28 April 2007

Interpretive knitting

In the comments earlier this week, Melanie mentioned how nice it would be to see a photo of the Shamrock Shawl "as it grows." To be honest, that never occurred to me! I think maybe because I started it so long ago, and it's always been something that took so long to show any progress. But, since I decided it would be my next project that I would finish, I have been working on it pretty regularly. So today, after I had done some work on it, I decided to see how it would look if I stretched it out a little bit, to take a photo.

Le sigh. The beginning looks pretty good. But the middle part, which I last worked on literally years ago (!), is a mess. The part I've been doing in the past month or so looks OK. But the middle part - not so much looking like shamrocks. More like, um, a sudden lace pattern of an amoeba or something.

I'm not tearing it out and redoing it, though that is really what I should do. But to be honest, I fear that I would end up in a home if I tried to do that. And I keep telling myself that maybe when it's finished, and blocked, it won't look so weird. But I will admit to feeling dismayed with the whole thing at this point. I'm still determined to finish it, and to do my best to make it look as much like it should as possible, but I think I'll end up with a shawl that will be for around the house, or under a coat, rather than one to wear and show off proudly. I am hoping that I can chalk it up to a "learning experience," and try the pattern again sometime, now that I understand better how to read a chart.

I'm sure I can chalk this up to character building and all that. Though to be honest, with all of the "character building" I've done, I really shouldn't have anything left to improve!

In any event, I will probably try to take some pictures of the shawl, and some other things I've wanted to photograph, tonight or tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some show-and-tell for my next post.

26 April 2007

National Poetry Month, Part 2

One of the suggestions for observing National Poetry Month on Poets.org, is to read a poem out loud. So, pretend you are hearing the dulcet tones of my lovely voice, reading you this poem that I have chosen.

In the Park
by Maxine Kumin

You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you're a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
--you won't know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his
heart beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It's a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven's an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there's a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,
and no choosing what to come back as.

When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.

24 April 2007

Kindness, forgiveness, and knitting frustration


Before I write anything else, I want to say a genuine, heartfelt thank you to all of you who left comments and/or sent me e-mails after reading about our girl Abigail. (I really will write back to all of you eventually.) I mean it when I say that hearing from so many people, most of whom I've never met, made me feel so comforted and not so alone. Everyone at our house was touched by your kindness, and I can tell you that I'm sure that Abigail is pleased, because she loved it when people would pay attention to her, and talk to her. Like any loss, you don't really get over it, you just have to get used to it, and so we are going along the best we can, since the world isn't going to stop and wait for us.

It does suck, though, as I'm sure you know ...


Last week, after the shootings at Virginia Tech, I was reading several articles, as well as my usual knitting blogs, and it was interesting to see what different people had to say. I was struck by the number of people who mentioned that it was important to remember that the student who carried out the shootings had a family too, and that they were not only dealing with a loss, but with behavior that they did not expect from their son/brother. When I first heard about the events, it seemed that most people were ready to celebrate the suicide of the shooter. And it struck me that just a few months ago, when the guy shot the Amish schoolgirls, all of the news outlets and reporters were falling all over themselves, talking about how the Amish people were kind to the killer's family, and had a true sense of forgiveness. The contrast seemed to be striking.

I remember reading an article in some health-related magazine a couple of years ago, where they discussed the positive power of forgiveness. They studied people who had experienced pretty terrible, life-altering events, at the hands of someone else. As the people in the study were given the tools to learn how to forgive, their overall mental and physical health improved. It was fascinating, and though there are times when it seems impossible to forgive someone (well, it's hard for me, at least), I think that it's worth making an effort. I certainly don't succeed all of the time (most of the time?), but if I have tried, it makes me feel better about the situation and myself.

Anyway, that was apropos of nothing, really, I just have been mulling it over, and felt like sharing. :-)

Knitting frustration

I am making slow (as in, snail's pace) progress on the Shamrock Shawl. That's the good news.

The bad news is, I'm totally frustrated by my other project. I had planned to make a sleeveless summer top from the Manos Stria cotton yarn shown in an earlier post. I dutifully swatched, and it took four tries until I had the proper gauge. Then I started knitting away, thinking it would take no time at all to complete. The pattern suggests that once you have knitted approximately two inches, you should check your gauge again, before going any further. Well, of course, I wasn't even close. So I swatched again, tried with another needle size, and still didn't come close. I gave it two more tries, without any better results.

I have decided that I will put the yarn away, and work on something else. Because I'm supposed to be knitting for fun, so why let myself get frustrated and aggravated about the project??

Now, though, I can't decide what I want to knit. The Shamrock Shawl is my "finish a project" project, so I can start a new one. But I'm not inspired by anything at the moment. Well, that's not totally true - I would *love* to try this pattern. I see this sample (entry for April 18, 2007) in the window at Loop, every day on my way to and from work. But I am trying (so far successfully) to keep with my Knit From Your Stash 2007 plan, at least until Maryland Sheep and Wool, which is the weekend after this coming one. And I don't have any yarn in my stash that I could use for the aforementioned pattern. Therein lies my dilemma (plus, I just used "therein," how cool is that?) ...

I am going to try and pull out a bunch of leftover Encore from my stash, and start working on some hats for the Charmed Knits project. At least until I see what/if I buy anything in Maryland. And if I am still obsessed with the pattern in the window at Loop, I'll allow myself my "free pass" and get the pattern and the yarn I want to use.

And all I can say is - I'd better get the gauge right on that one. Or someone will pay. (They always do ...)

22 April 2007

Earth Day

Remember to love your mother.

21 April 2007

In the arms of the angels

This is our sweet Abigail, who left us today to be with her siblings and other loved ones in heaven. When we were choosing a name for her as a kitten, we chose Abigail, because it meant "the father rejoices," and she made us so happy.

And though we wish we could still cuddle her, and pet her, we're glad she isn't sick anymore. We will miss having her physicially with us, but we will still be rejoicing because she is, was, and will always be, our sweet girl.

God bless you, Abigail. We will always love you.

Heaven just became an even better place.

19 April 2007

End of an era

When I was a little girl, I thought that the best thing that could happen to me would be to live in a glamorous apartment in a glamorous place like New York, and wear fabulous clothes, say witty things, and maybe - though not necessarily - have a charming husband. We would have all kinds of fun together, going to plays, concerts, having amazingly entertaining friends, and be able to discuss any topic, shallow or serious. I/we would not necessarily be famous, but we would be well-educated, and drink a lot of martinis. In some ways, like Nick and Nora Charles in "The Thin Man" movies.

Or, Kitty Carlisle Hart.

By the time I first learned who she was, it was through "To Tell the Truth," a game show where she was a regular on the panel. At about 3:00 every afternoon, when the show came on, I would be riveted, not so much by the people and their stories, but by the fact that they would introduce the panel, and the men wore suits, Polly Bergen or Peggy Cass, or whoever was the other female, would have on nice dresses, but then they would introduce Kitty Carlisle, and she would appear, at three in the afternoon, dressed like she was ready for a cocktail party with other society ladies! Such glamour, to dress like that in the middle of the afternoon, for a game show! That, I remember thinking to myself, is the life!

Later, I would see her in old movies, particularly in "A Night at the Opera" with the Marx Brothers, where she sang "Alone" and did so in such an incredibly dramatic, stupid way, that I would walk around the house the next day, trying to recreate it for myself. (I still do sometimes.)

Even later, I would read interviews with her, or see her being interviewed, and well, she was friends with George Gershwin, who even once proposed to her (though she said he was famous for proposing to almost everyone)! I longed to be proposed to by George Gershwin! And she married Moss Hart - of Kaufman and Hart! Would she stop at nothing to make me amazed at her life???

In the article about her appearing in today's New York Times, she is called a "doyenne." Such a mysterious, glamorous word. I daresay that there are no more doyennes a la Kitty Carlisle Hart, she of the glamorous life, good deeds, and sense of humor about herself. It really is the end of an era.

Maybe part of the appeal to me was that she was so far removed from my everyday existence, yet still seemed like a person who would talk to you in a nice, friendly manner if you ran into her at Saks Fifth Avenue. (Like I ever go to Saks Fifth Avenue, but work with me here, people.) Or maybe it was because her life sounded like a lot of the stories my mother used to tell me about when she and my father were young, and used to do exotic, glamorous things, like go to night clubs, or dinner dances, and laugh, drink, and dance the night away. I don't know about you, but the idea of my parents as young was hard enough to imagine, without taking it a step further to think they actually had fun!

I don't think life is like that anymore, even for society people. For all I know, maybe it was fakery. But it seemed to be convincing to me, even once I realized that I was not really cut out for the glamorous life. Today, so many people who appear on society pages, or in magazine profiles, are boring. Or fake. Or so busy letting you know how important they are, you really just wish you'd bought an Archie comic instead.

So God bless you, Kitty Carlisle Hart. Thank you for letting me live the glamorous life vicariously, while also knowing that the one I have is just fine, thank you.

My witty, charming husband and I will drink a martini in your honor (though I have to admit, we might be wearing sweats) ...

17 April 2007

National Poetry Month, Part I

"April is National Poetry Month."

This has been mentioned in a couple of articles I've read in the newspaper lately, and it has also been mentioned on a couple of other knitters' blogs. I'm glad that April is notable for something other than being Income Tax Month in the U.S., and well, poetry is a fine endeavor. I wish there were more true poets than, say, politicians.

Beginning in the fourth grade, I remember the Statewide Poetry Contest for schoolchildren (probably in April). The premise was that children would submit poems that they had written, and a panel of judges would find the pearls in the rough sand. The reason it was a problem was because it was a requirement to submit a poem. Yep, even if you couldn't put an articulate thought together in a sentence, you were supposed to compose a poem because you were graded on it!

As I recall, there were also two themes to choose from: religion and patriotism. (Excellent choices, as neither is a loaded topic ...) When I attended Catholic school, religion (needless to say) was highly preferred as a topic over patriotism. To be honest, from the get-go, I thought it was all ridiculous, because even at an early age, it had occurred to me that some people had a natural aptitude or affinity for things, and others did not. It seemed to me that you couldn't force a person to become a poet, just to win a contest. Of course, you can threaten to fail someone, which will make them try to start rhyming words left and right - that's called motivation ...

Anyway, I remember that one year, my sister Mary Ellen said she would help me with my poem. I figured this was a good deal, because she was smart, and very holy.* What I failed to take into consideration was that she also had the family sense of humor. So here is the poem she suggested that I submit, due to its "Biblical" theme:

When I think about religion,
I just don't give a hoot.
'Cause even Mary Magdelene
Was a prostitute.

I immediately wrote something where "Flag" rhymed with "brag" and how great America was.

In eighth grade, I was all about the limerick as a form of great poetry:

There once was a virgin named Mary,
The Savior of all she did carry,
'Twas the angel of God
Who gave her the nod,
And said "Please just don't name him Harry."

I found this hi-larious, as it was so wrong, and my father's first name was Harry. But once again submitted something that showed my faith in our great nation.

I love words and language; I greatly admire anyone who can use them well, and make them meaningful to others. I think anyone can learn how to write a poem, or recognize a well-crafted poem. But not everyone is a poet, just like not everyone who plays the piano is a virtuoso.

Poetry as most of us think of it, is not my favorite thing. But you will never be able to convince me that the elegant use of language is not as beautiful as any Shakespeare sonnet. There are few things more rewarding than reading something that is beautifully written. Words from the heart and soul, on paper or in your head, give us all the chance to be our own poets, in our own lives.

*This was years ago. I cannot in any way comment on the current state of her soul.

14 April 2007

Odds and Ends

Time for a little catching up, I think.

Easter - was very nice, thank you. It would have been nicer if a) it hadn't been so freakin' cold!, and b) if I had felt better. I was in the beginning of a bronchitis spell, though fortunately it didn't really kick in until all of our houseguests were gone. We did do our inappropriately themed eggs this year, but due to more people working on them than usual, and my not feeling good, I have no pictures. But trust me, there's always next year ...

Back in March, when I was regaling you with the birthday gifts I received, I mentioned that Tim had given me a necklace with my birthstone. Melanie asked if I would post a picture. I never thought about it, but sure, the next time I'm taking pictures (if my sieve brain thinks of it), I'll try to get a decent shot of it. Aquamarine is hard to capture in a photo, color-wise (because if there's a problem, surely it won't be my photography skills).

At different times, both Mary and Sue have asked if I am left-handed. Yes, it's true, I am a lefty. (Aren't all of the cool kids???) There's not a lot I can do with my right hand, so it just has to sit there and look pretty most of the time ... when I was a kid, my father decided once that he would take me to the driving range, and show me how to hit a golf ball properly. We were there about a half an hour when he said that he suddenly remembered that left-handed people weren't supposed to golf - which I actually believed, until we got home and my mother set me straight! I have no success learning to do things when people who are right handed say, "Now, just watch me, and do the opposite." Huh?

After reading posts where I have referred to Jetsam, our kitten, Maureen wanted to know, "If there is a Jetsam, is there also a Flotsam?" God help us all - no! Jetsam on his own is fine for now, thank you very much. :-)

BarbP wondered if I was planning to go to Maryland Sheep & Wool. You bet I am! I'm signed up to take the bus trip sponsored by Rosie's, which I did a couple of years ago as well. It was so much fun, and I am looking forward to it. (Barb, are you going??)

You may be wondering, where are the pictures of the prizes from a contest at Lorette's blog?? I have been waiting for a sunny day to try and get a nice shot of the yarn. This past week, I've been coughing so much, I can't even hold the camera still! So those pictures will be forthcoming as well.

After reading my post of the other day, Carol asked if my sense of humor is what had gotten me through some of my medical issues. I guess so, or at least it hasn't hurt! I come from a family with a sense of humor, so it never occurs to me that a person wouldn't naturally have one. (Until I meet some of the real duds walking around, then I thank my lucky stars that I have enough humor to find their "dud-ness" amusing ...) Mostly, my sense of humor has gotten me in trouble, as I find things amusing at the wrong times. And then, that amuses me. It's kind of a vicious circle ...

Finally, I think this post at the Taoknitter's blog is interesting. When I first started reading it, I thought, "What the h*** would Elizabeth Cady Stanton know about digital???" Then I thought, "Oh ... right.

13 April 2007

Yikes! Friday the 13th!

Bad Luck??

I don't think so!

12 April 2007

Three years. Two doctors. One husband.

Three years ago today, I was lying in an operating room, having major surgery (or, as I like to call it, The Rearranging of the Innards). Until then, I had never had to go to a hospital for anything other than emergency room visits (stitches), and to visit my parents during their respective illnesses. All of a sudden, I was busy with Advance Directives, tons of tests, and telling approximately 100 people my name, date of birth, and what procedure was being done.

Obviously, I survived.

Two doctors in particular made all of the difference. One was a surgeon, who I saw only because the person originally recommended by my gynecologist was on maternity leave, and Dr. C. was recommended by the person I spoke to over the phone. "She's relatively new, but very good. I think she would be a good choice." Well, when you don't know anyone else to ask, what the heck, I thought. I had my first appointment with her on Halloween morning, the year before the surgery took place.

"Oh my God, she's only twelve!" (This is what I thought when she first walked into the room.) But, I was there, she was there, and did I mention I knew no one else to ask? As it turned out, she was really nice, very straightforward, answered all of my questions, and made me feel like she was concerned about me. Which, when you are seeing someone for the first time, because you may have to have surgery - also for the first time - makes a big difference.

So then the biopsy was scheduled, and the results were what they were, and suddenly she was assembling a "team" to help with my treatment. One of the team members was a reconstructive surgeon, in the event that I chose that option. So I called and made my appointments with the various doctors. And all of a sudden, I had an appointment with a reconstructive surgeon.

A week or so later, I went to the office, and of course, he was a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. "Oh God, everyone here is going to be perfect-looking," I thought when I walked down the hallway to his office suite. The receptionist was a woman probably a little bit older than I was, and she looked normal. So far, so good. The nurse who came to get me was younger, and looked like a regular person too. When the doctor came in, other than looking like another twelve year old, he also seemed to be fine.

I was extremely nervous, for a number of reasons. He was nice. I told him my concerns, and asked him all of the questions I'd listed in the days prior to my appointment, which he answered completely. My biggest surprise is that he was really, really funny!

After various other doctor visits, tests, and lots of personal research, I decided on one type of surgery followed by immediate reconstructive surgery. The day I was supposed to show up, I was told to arrive by 9:00 a.m. They never even called my name until sometime after noon. Then it took forever to get all of the paperwork and registration completed, change into the hospital gown, and talk to approximately 82 people who had some role in my surgery and after care. (I didn't end up out of the recovery room and in a hospital room that day until about 9:45 p.m.!) Dr. C. arrived, and was upbeat, cheerful, and reassuring. She held my hand, and said that she knew that all would go well. I truly did believe her. But of course, as soon as she left, I got all nervous and teary again. One of the nurses told me that they all called my reconstructive surgeon "Skippy," which he apparently didn't appreciate, but it did amuse me, and laughing about that calmed me down a litte. Eventually Skippy arrived, and came over to tell me what/when/how his part in the surgery would take place. He saw that I was nervous, and teary. And then this person, who I was now seeing for maybe the third time in my life, reached over, patted my cheek, and said, "It's OK, darlin'. You'll be fine, I won't let anything bad happen."

Which is still one of the nicest, kindest, most wonderful things anyone has ever said or done to me in my whole life.

It was OK in the end. I stayed in the hospital for a few days, and then got to come home. From that point on, it was up to me to get well, and up to Tim to do just about everything, for me, for the house, for the cats. It wasn't easy for either of us, and I often think the hardest part was his. He not only had to do things that he usually did, and that I usually did, but he had to help me do just about everything, at least for the first few weeks. You really know how much someone loves you when they help you empty surgical drains several times in the middle of the night, even though it's gross. Or they help you shave your legs, or wash your hair. When they will get up many times in the middle of the night, when they have to work the next day, because you have moved in such a way that your pillows or covers have moved, and you can't move well enough to get situated again. I hope that if, God forbid, something ever happens to him, that I can return the favors. Because never once did he lose patience, his temper, or his sense of humor. And I wasn't the best patient, believe me!

As it turns out, that wouldn't be my last surgery, not even that year. I still see my "team" of doctors regularly, and all of them are the best. I consider them friends, and would walk through fire for them. But on this day, three years ago, two of those doctors helped me emotionally at least as much as they did physically.

I know I'm lucky when I hear what other people have gone through, and when they describe how their doctors interact (or do not) with them. Or when I hear about people whose partners couldn't, wouldn't, or didn't want to deal with the whole thing.

I'm lucky. Life goes on, and nothing is guaranteed, I know. Even so, I really think it will be OK in the end.

10 April 2007

I'd like to thank the Academy ...

Melanie of Tea Reads has nominated The Ravell'd Sleave for a Thinking Bloggers Award - how cool is that!? I will admit that I started this blog to make it easier to participate in swaps, and then found that in spite of my personal reservations, it was fun to have someplace to write about my knitting, my reading, and whatever I wanted. And it was nice to realize that some people read my blatherings, even regularly! So to have another person include me in a list of "thinking" anythings, is truly unexpected and most appreciated. (Thanks Melanie!)

Now I get to nominate five blogs that make me think. I can tell you that my nominations are all knitting-related blogs, as not only am I new to blogging, but to reading blogs, so my circle is rather small. Yes, I started reading them because they were about knitting. But to be honest, I don't keep reading blogs that bore me, and don't make me think about anything else at all - which made it hard to choose just five. The blogs listed in my sidebar are my absolute regulars, but there are others that I check on a regular basis, and they are some of the ones that I decided to include here. That in no way reflects the quality of anyone that I am - or am not - including, because though I came to them originally because of knitting, I keep reading them because they are so much more.

1. Go Knit in Your Hat - I will admit that I am a friend of Carol's, but to be honest, even if I had never met her, I would keep reading her blog. She writes expertly about knitting, copyright, books, life in general, and is fun in the process. Without meaning to get all mushy, if she was not younger than I am, I would really like to be her when I grow up!

2. Queer Joe's Knitting Blog - I came across this blog via Carol's list on her sidebar. I don't know Joe personally, but reading his blog is always interesting, and often very illuminating. He writes about his knitting, and about knitting in general. But he is also willing to share his beliefs and opinions, clearly articulating why he believes what he believes (which is never easy, as far as I'm concerned), as well as taking into account in a thoughtful manner, the opinions of those who may disagree with him.

3. The Panopticon - Another blog I found through Carol. I find Franklin's writing and humor to be challenging, funny, and sometimes surprising (as in, "Oh wow I never thought about ___ that way"). He writes about his conversion to Buddhism, in a manner that is informative, engaging, and not at all in-your-face. And his "assistant" Dolores, is not like anyone else - trust me! It also doesn't hurt that he is in Chicago, and since I used to live there, I can appreciate a lot of the local references ...

4. Femminista Della Casa - I found this one myself (I'm sure you're thinking, well it's about time!). The Femminista keeps you thinking, because she writes about knitting, feminism, the environment, sustainability, social justice, and other things that are worth reading and thinking about. The posts are never preachy, which is a large part of the appeal. You read and think to yourself that you could certainly try that. One thing she does that I have started to try and do is a "Seven Things Saturday," where she tries every week to get rid of seven things that she does not use, that don't fit anymore, etc., by dropping them off with Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or other organizations that can make them available to others who can use them. I will admit that I don't always manage to find seven things, but I am becoming more thoughtful about what I have, use, and don't use.

5. Crazy Aunt Purl - Laurie's blog is nearly always very funny - I mean, what can you expect with a tag line like, "Because nothing is sexier than a divorced woman with four cats"? But it's worth a look because she writes about her own personal growth as a person who has gone through what sounds like a painful divorce, and is finally starting to come into her own in the way she wants to. She lives in southern California, and it's always reassuring to read her blog and realize that there are plenty of people there who are not the stereotypical ones we read/hear/see on TV or in the movies. The best part about her from what I read, seems to be her willingness to laugh at her mistakes, her loyalty to her friends and family, and her determination to become the person she wants to be, no matter how hard it may be at times.

Now each of the nominees gets to nominate, if they are so inclined. Here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,

2. Link to the thinking blogger post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

08 April 2007

05 April 2007

March Book Report

It was a 50/50 month, book-wise.

First up was The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood. This was the March selection for the Knit the Classics group. I was looking forward to this book, since I have usually liked other things I've read by Atwood. As it turned out, I really didn't like this book much at all. Though it was interesting enough to finish reading, even at the end, I didn't really like any of the characters, or care much what happened to them. And though it was written as a story-within-a-story, neither story was that riveting or appealing. One of the persons who commented in the online discussion said that it was as if Atwood decided it would be a clever way to present the story, but then just didn't make either part of it something that engaged the reader. So this one was a disappointment, I'm sad to say.

Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, by Sue Townsend. I first met Adrian Mole when PBS presented a show called "Wonderworks," where they would air productions (usually BBC) of children's classics. They dramatized the first book in the series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4. It was really funny, and made me interested in reading the actual book. Poor Adrian Mole. He is the only son of working class parents (though for a lot of the time, his father is "on the dole"), living in a housing development outside of London, who considers himself to be an intellectual surrounded by others who have no clue about the finer things in life. The thing is, Adrian Mole is the perfect example of the person for whom a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Anyway, in this book, Adrian is an adult, turning 35, and still dealing with his parents, an ex-wife, and a couple of children. His eldest son is in the military, and the book opens when George Bush is trying to convince the world that Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction. Adrian feels sure that if Prime Minister Tony Blair agrees with Bush, then it must be true, because he cannot imagine someone as smart as the P.M. lying to the people. As things go along, Adrian's son is deployed to Iraq, which causes him all kinds of worry and fear for the boy's safety. But besides that, he still has to deal with his parents, his younger sister who is dating a drug addict, various former schoolmates, and problems with a threatening swan in the river near the condo he has just purchased.

Sue Townsend has managed to make the adult Adrian a logical extension of the young boy we meet in the first installment. If you liked the earlier books, this one will amuse you in the same way. As the book opens, Adrian is writing a letter to Tony Blair, asking for assistance in obtaining a refund for a planned trip to Cyprus. He cancelled the trip when he saw Blair announce that Hussein had weapons and could attack Cyprus at any time. But the travel agency is balking at refunding his money, as the agent questions whether or not this is the case. His letter ends, "Would it be possible to send a handwritten note confirming the threat to Cyprus so that I can pass it on to Johnny Bond and therefore retrieve my deposit? I can ill afford to lose 57.10 pounds."

If you haven't met Adrian Mole yet, get thee to a library or bookstore!

03 April 2007

What luck!

Though to be authentic, the title should read "What luuuck" which is what the lady on the Publishers' Clearinghouse commercial used to say. She'd follow up with, "Now we won't have to sell the farm." Because I am snarky, I always used to wish that besides saving the farm, she'd use some of the money to a) install a shower, and b) visit the dentist.

I, of course, would never be seen in public looking less than stellar ...

Anyway - I won something! I can't tell you how excited I am about it, because I have never won anything before. Lorette had a contest on her blog, to celebrate its anniversary, and I won one of the prizes! As I told her, it's a trifecta for me, as 1) I won something, 2) I'll get a package in the mail, and 3) it's yarn - hooray! I'm not just happy that I won, but also am pleased because I really enjoy Lorette's blog, and some of her commentary. She seems like someone who would be fun to spend time with in person - and honestly, given some of the people that some of us are forced to spend time with every day, isn't it great when someone seems like they are fun to be around?

Thank you, Lorette!

In my last post, I showed off the yarn I had wound, and said I was planning to start swatching. Which is what I did last night. However, swatching works much better if you actually pay attention, and try using the correct size needles first time around. Honestly, my brain was more sieve-like than ever last night. Even as I was knitting, I kept thinking to myself, "Gee this seems like it's making an awfully open fabric for a top." Tonight I thought I'd give it a try using the suggested needle size ...

And now for something completely different ...

(No, not The Larch.)

Thought you might enjoy this video, called "Medieval Help Desk":


01 April 2007

Lessons learned

Last week was a tough one. I do want to thank those of you who sent me an e-mail, or left a nice comment about my Tiger socks. I wore them to work on Friday, and they made me smile whenever I looked at them.

My medical procedure was completed, which was an accomplishment in and of itself. Without going into detail, let me just tell you that it was a test to get a baseline reading. They have been trying to complete the test since I turned 40. I am now 51. They finally got their baseline reading. And if I'm lucky, I won't even have to think about it again for another 5 years. And, though Melanie suggested I wear my Tiger socks when I went to have it done, I decided that I was going to save them for a better day - and what day is better than a Friday??

Anyway, the whole prep and the procedure itself really wore me out, so I didn't do much knitting at all this past week. I did decide what my next project would be, and it's a sleeveless sweater for summer, from Manos Cotton Stria. I bought the yarn 2 years ago (I think) and kept forgetting about it. So when I was organizing my stash, and came across it, I decided to definitely try and get it done to wear this year.

Which allowed me to use my new swift and ball winder (my friend April gave me a Rosie's gift certificate for my birthday, and I used it for a ball winder). I had no problem setting things up. And things started out fine, but then I ran into some problems. Once I finally got one hank wound into a center pull ball, I had learned:

1. It makes the most sense of the swift and winder are either on the same level, or close to it; or, perhaps if they are not, the swift should be the one that's slightly higher.

2. Ball winders, like nearly everything in the world, are made for right-handed people. Yes, you can use your left hand to wind, but it can be problematic.

3. You need to pay attention, so the yarn does not wind around the gears (I mess this up when I wind balls for customers at Rosie's sometimes, too).

4. Do not let Jetsam discover what you are doing. If by some mistake you forget this lesson, keep the door to the room where you are winding yarn, closed. Tight.

5. Some hanks of yarn set themselves up for winding more easily than others.

The good news is, that I not only learned valuable lessons, but I ended up with this:

Not bad for a newbie, huh? The yarn is actually not quite this bright, but you know me and the flash on the camera, etc. (I really need to do these things when Tim is around so I can ask him about it.) I am planning to knit a gauge swatch tonight or tomorrow evening, and hopefully I won't have to fiddle around with it too much before I can actually get started.

Other than that, today has been pretty quiet. I got some things done around here, and have nearly finished the laundry. Then I'll pay some bills, so I don't have to compose my next post in the dark ...

And after I have some dinner, I think I'll take a cue from Abigail and GK, and just take it easy. It is Sunday, after all!