Monday, May 28, 2012

Here it is Monday night.  May 28, Memorial Day here in the US.  Traditionally, the start of Summer in everyone's mind if not quite on the calendar.  I remember Memorial Day BBQs when I was a kid when the temps were not so warm but if a pool was handy, we went swimming.  Memorial Day meant swimming.  Now, it means time.  We try to use our vacation time to stretch the weekend out.  And it means taking the time to remember all those who have served our country.  PK is a vet but he doesn't make much of it.  We weren't officially at war when he was in the Navy.  It was the time when our embassy was overrun in Iran and our people were held hostage.  It was a tense time and with no email, skype or cell phones, our contact was limited to letters.  I waited for those pieces of paper that let me know he was ok.  I still have a few of them and they bring fond memories of a much younger us.

So, we stretched out our weekend.   Peter Kevin and I took Friday off and we took tomorrow off so we have one more day left.  The other four disappeared in a flash.  We managed to spend time doing what we wanted (which may have included naps and watching bad movies) and spend time visiting with family and spend time working on projects.

All despite the increasingly hot and humid weather.  We are in the middle of a bona fide Heat Wave.  Yes, it deserves capital letters. The temps have been horrid and the humidity is unbearable.  This is mostly since it's the first one and no one is used to the heat yet and we are not handling it very well.  If this were July or August?  We could do this standing on our heads.  In May?  Not so much.

But here's some photos of what we did this weekend.

This is one end of the lake that my brother's house sits on.  It's a good sized lake but not good for swimming.  The turtles who call it  home would bite.  And I have a feeling it's pretty slimy.  But, it's beautiful to look at and has that good, clean, earthy lake smell.

We putzed around the house on Friday and Saturday, doing some chores and playing with our hobby equipment.  (I finished spinning the yarn for my sweater!).  We went to dinner at my brother's house on Sunday night.  It was humid but there was a breeze and we sat in the shade and laughed the evening away.  My niece pointed out a book she was reading called Zombies vs Unicorns and told me I should read it.  I skimmed it but politely declined.  She then challenged me to a Words with Friends game and has been gleefully sending me her moves.  I love the fact that she wants to play with me.

Today we went to Valley Forge for a picnic.  I was a bit nervous about this since it was predicted to be another nasty humid day but we went anyway.  Everyone brought something.  Pk and I made cannoli along with some mac salad and cucumber salad.  The cannoli were delicious, we'll definitely make them again.  Kate brought drinks and Em brought lunchmeat and rolls.  El contributed the paper products. 

We set up at some picnic tables in the shade and within sight of the Memorial Arch.

Since this is a national park, everything is a Memorial to someone or something.  It's one of the encampment places of the Continental Army during the American Revolution.  There are statues of George Washington and other generals and cabins.  There are cabins that soldiers (probably officers) used.  There was some reenactment going on today.  We saw some tents and some men in uniform.  If they were at all realistic, those poor men were wearing wool.  And it was a brutal day.

Our spot under the trees was cool enough and there was often a bit of a breeze.  I used the opportunity to take some "action shots" of my newly spun yarn.

I have actually started a sleeve.  Three times with different results.  I finally decided tonight that it has to be because I used a different set of needles to do the swatch and these are nominally the same size but I'm not getting near gauge.  I know that the yarn is not perfectly consistent, it is handspun and not mill spun, but it's not that off that my swatches should be so different.  I'm going to try with some smaller needles to see what difference it will make.  It's going to be warn, the kind of cardigan you throw on when you're cold, not just to look pretty.I put it aside for the time being.  It's just too hot to play with right now.  I think that the weather is predicted to break sometime Wed/Thurs so maybe then I'll play with it.

I also want to play with the lace whorl for my wheel.  My tour de fleece goal is to spin a two ply laceweight, something I've never been able to do.  I have some gorgeous roving just waiting but the idea of putting the wool next to my sweaty skin makes me itch.  It will wait.  In the meantime, I'll finish baby sweater number two.  It's a yarn I bought from a Piece of Vermont a long time ago and I love the greens and greys in it.  I am halfway through the second sleeve and then just have the collar and button band.  Then I think I'll make some baby socks for a coworker who is technically not one of our employees but she's been there for months doing a research study and is having a baby in August.  I haven't decided if she's sweater worthy but I'm leaning toward Yes. 

Nothing too strenuous.  I've been off the computer (unless I was watching something) since it's too hot to hold onto it for very long.  This is getting too warm and I'm thinking it's time to close up for the night.

Happy Memorial Day to all those who celebrate.  Happy Monday for everyone else.  I hope you all take the time to thank a member of your armed forces.  They have a hard job and need all the appreciation they can get.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What a good weekend this was. 

Let's start with Friday.  The Handle with Care class went well.  I only had to take down my partner twice but I allowed someone to restrain me and my shoulders still felt it this morning.  It's not a comfortable position (but then it's not supposed to be).

Pk and I went to see the Avengers at 4:15 and liked it so much that we picked up Elanor, Kate and Patrick, got some Chinese food for dinner and went to see it again.  That Capt America fills out the spandex in a spectacular way. 

Saturday, Pk and I got up and ran errands which included looking for a space heater for under my desk at work since the a/c tends to be a bit much.  No joy.  Wrong season for heaters. We bought a birthday present for Patrick and then picked up prescriptions, did the grocery shopping and got all the laundry done.  I also baked a cake for Patrick's birthday and we went to Kate's house for dinner.  A busy but productive day.

I love spending time with my kids.  They are interesting people.  We talked about how we're spending Memorial Day next weekend and I'm pretty sure a picnic at Valley Forge will be involved.  I'll make salads and maybe some cookies, Kate will do drinks and Em offered to get lunchmeat and rolls.  Nice and easy.  Valley Forge is another one of those Battlefield Memorial Parks.  We seem to have a lot of them.  It might be nice to have a park that doesn't memorialize the dead. 

Today, I got up and went for a pedicure/manicure.  I managed to break 3 fingernails doing Handle with care but I got the manicure anyway.  It makes me feel good.  On my way home, I stopped at the hair salon for a trim/shape up.  Today was Basic Maintenance for DL day.  In a few minutes I'm going to give myself a facial.  It gets harder to keep up appearances as I age!  Or at least takes more effort.  I'm not 18 and will never look it but I can look good for 54. 

Peter Kevin spent the day in the workshop making large blocks of wood into smaller ones.  And lots of shavings.  He insists this is fun somehow. 

I spent the afternoon working on Elanor's May socks.  Not even close to being done but that's no matter.  She'll be happy when she gets them.  She's gotten 4 pairs already this year.  I've also been working my way down the body of the baby sweater.  Stockinette stitch on 2.5 needles takes a long time to grow.  It's a good thing the baby isn't due until the end of the year.

You know, I don't talk about my job much because I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm any better than I am.  I am good at my job but no better than my coworkers.  We are a good team and work well together.  I think the folks I work with appreciate what I do, the ones that recognize that there's a lot of paperwork/phone calls/forms etc to be taken care of.  One of my guys calls me the Empress of the Universe.  I  try to be there and to listen and to offer support and sometimes I'm in the right place at the right time to offer the hand to hold onto.  Most of the time, it's putting out little fires before they become conflagrations and helping people put out their own fires so they don't need me.
I just fell into a job that I happen to be good at doing.

Well, I'm watching the daylight fade outside and it's time to put the avacado/oatmeal mask (it's in a tube) on my face.  It makes my skin feel soft and I like the way it smells.  It's time to pack up my things for tomorrow morning and to find the clothes for my gym bag in case we get done early enough to go to the gym.  It's time to prepare to face another work week.

Weekends are so short.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Your jury service for this term has ended. You are no longer required to report as previously instructed and need not check for any further instructions. We thank you for serving as a juror in the United States District Court.

Well, that was an interesting two weeks!  Since May 4, I have been checking in at the District of NJ website to see if I needed to report for Jury Duty.  Each day, it would say something along the lines of  "no thanks, not today but check back tomorrow".  Today,  the message above came up.  So, I have done my civic duty and didn't have to leave the comfort of my home. 

This week has been a tough one at work.  I had two women call and tell me they were feeling suicidal.  Both because of family members.  I talked to them and we came to the conclusion that they really didn't want to die, they just wanted not to feel bad. 

Family is amazing and wonderful and awful and hurtful all at the same time.  I like to think that I helped them realize that they are terrific women (both single mothers who have raised their children to adulthood despite serious mental illness) who deserve to be admired for their accomplishments.  I admire them and told them so repeatedly. 

It makes me angry that people make comments without thinking about the effects those words have on someone else.  You can take them back and ask for forgiveness but the person who is in pain?  Doesn't forget.  They may forgive but forgetting is another matter.  Words get inside your heart and they cling with all the clinginess of a kitten climbing the curtains. 

Hopefully, I gave them some positive and kind words to sneak in there and help counterbalance the ugly ones.  I talked one woman into coming to knit group tomorrow.  Connections to others in a positive way always helps.

Here is the Foxfaces (Nancy Bush) socks that I made for Em's birthday.  Galad asked if I liked the pattern.  Yes!  I like the pattern very much.  I started another pair immediately for me.  I changed it a little bit by doing the ribbing all the way down the back of the leg because I liked the look better.  These are knitpicks merino/silk sock yarn and it knit up so fluffy and nice. 

I am in the middle of several things at the moment.  There are the two Bigger on the Inside, a second simple baby sweater in a green/grey color that I had lying around for a few years, socks for me (3 pairs), socks for El and socks for Pk.  Plus the Madli's shawl that gets a bit of time and them put away since it is not an interesting knit.  This is so unusual for me.  I am not a  multiple wip person.  It's weird  but it doesn't bother me at all.  I just pick up whatever I feel like playing with at the time and go to town.  Except for on the train.  That is always socks or something small.  Not too much space and I try to be a considerate passenger. (except for when I'm riding with Pk, then he's got hold of one of my hands-not that I mind at all!)

Otherwise, things here are going on as usual.  The summer clothes are out and washed and hanging in the closets and the winter things are put away.  And of course, the weather has been so up and down that it's hard to know how to dress in the morning. 

Off to fix some dinner.  Good evening all!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day.  I have mixed feelings about this day.  I am forced for at least a few minutes to confront my own conflicting feelings about my mother and our relationship (or the lack thereof).  There are things I am sorry for and things that I had no control over and I have decided to let myself off the hook.  Do I wish things had been different?  You bet.  I tried but somehow I was never good enough. 

I miss my 'other mother', my Aunt Joan.  I have yet to delete her number from my cell phone because I like the thought that she's out there somewhere waiting for my call.  Now there's an idea for a story.  A magic cell phone that stores numbers of dead loved ones and we can call them.  Stephen King could turn it into something fascinating and horrible but for me, it's slightly comforting.

For myself, Mother's Day is odd.  I'm used to being the one doing the 'taking care of ' and having Pk and Elanor downstairs in the kitchen making me breakfast is odd.  I have to stay out of their way.  I don't want to tell them how I would do things.  I need to leave them be.  Pk makes a delicious omlette and it's better if I just stay out of the kitchen.  (I did go down to get a cup of coffee and a donut while I'm waiting and I was definitely in the way).

Kate made lasagna for dinner last night (delicious!) since she and Patrick are headed out to upstate PA for a camping trip today.  I don't have to cook all weekend.  Not a bad deal.  She gave me two skeins of pale pink Manos del Uruguay merino/silk yarn.  It's a beautiful yarn (she liked the idea that independent artisans all over Uruguay make it).  I have some slightly darker pink merino/angora singles that I've put up against this.  They might make a nice pair of mittens for me for next winter.
These are the locks I bought last weekend.  Kate carded hers together and isn't thrilled with the way the color came out.  I'm going to flick card them just a bit and then spin them as locks instead of a batt. I'm thinking they might make a beautiful lace weight yarn.  They are so curly! 

When I was a little girl, I had curly hair.  My mother hated brushing it and always kept it cut short.  I got Scarlet Fever when I was young and the curl literally fell out of my hair.  I have wavy hair now but not nearly as curly as when I was younger.  (I am still growing my hair.  It's almost to my shoulders at this point.  Just long enough to make a teeny tiny pony tail)

This is my Mother's Day present.  It is amazing and wonderful.  I have plied one skein of yarn and have 3 and a half bobbins full to ply another today.  I love my Kiwi wheel but those smallish bobbins mean than when you spin for a large project, there is a lot of tying skeins together.  This will cut that number in half.  I have one full bump of wool and about a half of another to spin.  I love watching the skeins of yarn pile up.  I washed and blocked the swatch and am in love with the way it looks.   I can't wait to finish spinning the yarn so I can start knitting the sweater  .Pk offered to make me buttons for it.  I like the idea of a totally handcrafted sweater.    This is a satisfying project.  Pk has asked for a cardigan and once this is finished, I'll look around for a pattern for something for him.  I may just purchase the yarn this time!

I made it through the first week without having to go in for jury duty.  One more week to go.  I have to call on Monday after 5 to see about Tuesday.  Last week, on Monday they said to check in on Wed.  On Wed they said to check back in on Friday.  On Friday, they said to check back in on Monday (tomorrow).  I'm glad not to be called but I think it would be easier to just spend one day sitting in a jury selection room and be done with it than calling every other day and not being able to make any plans.

I cast on for my Bigger on the Inside. I am making one at work with one of my coworkers.  It took an hour on Friday for us to get through the first part (you cast on one stitch and gradually increase to 10 stitches) but she was determined.  Unfortunately, the first part is a lace pattern so it is going to be a challenge for her.  When we finish this part and move onto the knitted part, that should be easier.

I've been listening to the audio version of the Lord of the Rings.  It's still exciting to me after all these years and the number of times I've read it.  The first time was in 1972 and probably once a year for every year since then.  Listening to it is a joy except for the parts where the narrator sings.  Dwarf songs are not meant to be sung by humans.  All I'm gonna say.

Wherever you are this lovely Sunday and whatever you're doing, I wish you a peaceful day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Whew.  THAT weekend flew right by.  I swear I blinked my eye and it was gone.

We got up early on Saturday and left the house by 7 to pick up Kate and head down to MDSW.  After a stop for breakfast (at McDonalds.  I have an unnatural love of their pancakes), we were on the road.  It's a straight shot down 95 until you get to the Beltway.  We take the roads that go around instead of through the major metropolitan area and were soon waiting in a rather long line to get to the fairgrounds.  I don't remember a long line last year but this year it was impressive.

I went to this thing with one thing in mind.  I didn't want to spend money on something I could get at home or very easily online.  I wanted something that was special/different/unique/unavailable.  Fiber festivals are not the places for cheap/low/bargain prices, at least not in my experience.

We pet sheep when they let us, we talked to sheep breeders.  I learned way more than I really wanted to know about artificial insemination of Gotland sheep.  The breeder was a nice lady and I'm a sucker for nice folks.  She had some gorgeous sheeps named Sophie and Mathilda.  They were shy and hid behind her but they had the most beautiful silver/grey coats.  They were just sheared in Feb and already had full fleeces again.  She said she'd shear them again this week and the fleece would weigh about 15 pounds or so.  Imagine having to gain and lose the same 15 pounds over and over?  Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

And look!  Sheeps in spandex!  These were the Feeder Lambs (and we all remember Feeder Lambs, right?).  Several cages of adorable lambs all wearing striped spandex.  They looked like they were either off to the beach or in search of an aerobic class circa 1980.

Kate, El, Pk and I spent lots of time admiring the animals and fondling the things for sale.  Eventually, Kate and I bought some Lincoln Locks.  I've never spun from locks before and the colors are autumnal, all browns and oranges and golds with a bit of blue.  I'm going to put it aside until the wool for the sweater is done.

And on that subject, I bought something to help make that easier.  I bougha a jumbo flyer for my wheel.  I didn't even know that they existed until Julie mentioned them last week and how everyone is out of stock.  I went into the Ashford booth and asked about them and he had one.  I snatched that baby right up.  Pk installed it on my wheel (I could have done it but he came in and voila, it was done) and I've already plied two full regular sized bobbins onto it.  I don't need jumbo bobbins right now since I can spin the singles onto the regular ones and then use the jumbo for plying.  It was so COOL!

The only other thing we bought was a handmade corn broom.  Pk admired them last year and so this year we bought one.  It's a broom.  It sweeps and makes a satisfying swishy noise while doing so.

I finished and gave El her March and April socks but I can't seem to load another photo so you'll have to take my word for it.  The blue/white/red ones came out much better than I expected.  The white stripe spiraled the same way down each sock amid the red and blue stripes.  El loves them.  I started May's socks and I'm making myself a pair of Fox Faces.

We were up early again yesterday and at the grocery store before 8 (on a Sunday!) and home with the groceries put away by 10.  I did 5 loads of laundry and took a nap and spun some more sweater yarn.  It was one of those satisfying days where you feel like you got a lot done but don't feel overwhelmed with it all.

No jury duty today but I have to call every night this week and next to see about the next day.  This is very weird.  Not knowing until after 5 what I'll be doing the next day is a bit disconcerting.  It will keep me just a bit off balance the next two weeks.

Our neighborhood flowering trees (the literal late bloomers) released their pollen yesterday/last night.  My car is a lovely shade of yellow this morning and my eyes itch and mys sinuses feel like someone rubbed them out with sand paper.  I hope these are the last ones.  Pk's reaction to the wisteria responded well to the steroids and he's almost rash free at this point.  We are investing in some cotton gloves for him (the only kind he'll wear) to finish up the back.

Well, off to work.  Have a good Monday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

May the Fourth be with you.

Happy Star Wars Day!

I can remember the first time I saw Star Wars in the theater.  It was June 1977.  I had just gotten home from college and my best high school friend called and said, "We should go see this movie.  I hear it's good".

"Good".  It literally blew me away.  We waited in an unprecedentedly long line and had to sit in the front (which I hate) but Wow.  It was such an impressive movie.  I think I went back and saw it 26 times in the theater (yes, children, this was in the days long before vhs).   It remains one of my very favorite movies ever.  Something about the good guys winning against incredible odds.

My sinuses have been giving me fits all week as our weather teeters between damp/cold and rainy/warm and sunny.  All in the same day or two.  Today it's that wonderful kind of misty day.  If you stand outside for any real length of time, you'll be wet but it just feels like walking through the clouds.  The fog on the bridge made it feel like we were in a Steven King novel and I was ready for the tentacles to come through the windows. 

Pk always says "don't worry, I'll save you.  I have a plan".  He always scopes out the other passengers to see who we can use as a ladder to get out of the train when/if it falls off the bridge.  He takes for granted that we will survive.  Well, that HE will survive and will drag me along with him. 

This weekend is MDSW.  I was pretty sure I wasn't going to go this year.  But as the day grew closer, I found that I wanted to go.  I don't need anything so it's probably a good time to go.  I have plently of spinning fiber and developing a yarn stash is not one of my goals so I can just browse and touch.  Best part of these things is that you are allowed to touch things.  Pk is bringing the cooler with ice in case anyone is selling lamb.  It feels faintly cannibalistic to have lamb grilling all day at a sheep show.  Do the sheep know what that smell is?

Em is busy with her friend's wedding so she can't go but Kate is game.  I find myself becoming a tiny bit excited.

I have to call the Jury Folks this afternoon.  I have once again gotten a summons for jury duty.  This is a federal jury and they "have me" for 2 weeks if they need me.  I think if they say they don't need me on Monday, I have to keep calling to see if they need me another day for 2 weeks.  This makes it a bit difficult to plan to have things at work run smoothly in my absence since I'm not exactly sure when my absence may/may not be.  I'm not fretting since I have absolutely no control over this.

Well, speaking of work, I have a ton to get done for Monday.  Whether I am here or not, life goes on.  I have a blurb from a magazine on my cork board that says "The world will not fall apart in my absence".  It's right but boy, can it work itself into an unholy mess.  So, I'm going to drink my Peppermint Mocha Latte (decaf) that I buy myself twice a month (expensive and way too many calories but god is it good) and see what the blinking light on the phone is all about.

Have a good weekend.  I'll (hopefully) have some sheepy photos to share with you on Sunday.

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...