Sunday, December 31, 2006

Is it skirt, is it a poncho?

One cool, relatively quick and fun pattern is Annie Modesitt's "Hannah's Poncho." It turned out a little different than I expected, but it is really cute on Chicky. I used Cascade 220 superwash, and it is more elastic than the yarn called for in the pattern. The result is less width and swingyness, but as a skirt, who cares?


Right now I'm working on a pattern from Knit 2 Together, a scarf/bonnet deal that looks perfect for one of my friends. I'm also working on Bowen's sweater that I started last winter. I need to finish it before he outgrows the size. Hopefully, it will be finished in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

AAAGH! The holidays are upon us...

It's getting down to crunch time, holiday speaking. As for coworkers, they are sure to be disappointed after last year's home knit frenzy. I've done a few warshrags, but my knittin' thumb has been down for the last couple of weeks, due to a stupid move at Pet Smart, and some intensive painting on the weekends. The children, now that they know Santa is me, want to know what their budget is (where is the fun in that, I ask you?). I've got a few things tucked away, but my American children are all about American commerce over here, and I don't have the budget for it, to be honest. Bringing up Laura Ingles Wilder and her orange, peppermint stick, and new cup don't win me any bonus points.

I'm thinking about a few of these as stocking stuffers. You know, support your favorite radio program, and harmless, squishy fun. (Sorry about the lack of cool linkage, but I am a non-computer geek.)

In other news, at long last, a picture of my first lace shawl. Pattern by the amazing Meg Swansen, Goddess of Knitting, bravely carrying on her mother's legacy.

Swansen shawl finished

Must go, I'm off to play Spite and Frustration with my brood.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A very cool (hot,really) hat

It's taken a year for me to work up the courage to knit Meg Swansen's dubblemossa hat, but I did it. To be perfectly honest, I didn't think I had the attention span for all the Fair Isle. There is a pretty major mistake, but I'm not telling where it is (I frogged many inches and re-knit the others, this one I didn't notice until I was five more inches down the pike). I don't think this hat will ever really be handy right here in North Carolina, but maybe first thing in the morning when it can be in the 30's I can wear it before the car is heated up.


Here it is, in one of its many wearable options

Thanks to Morgan for his perseverance with the picture taking. There's nothing cuter than giving a nine year old photographic direction while posing, "Is my whole head in the picture? No? Take a step back, sweetie. Ok, what about now? No, we don't want the recycle bin in the picture."

I attended my first totally vegan Thanksgiving. I have been vegan for three years, but I usually celebrate with "mixed" company. This was the first time I have been with so many people I don't know for the holiday (that I don't really believe in so much). The children and I all did well, I think, but definitely being with those friends and family that are close is better. I don't want to get to know people at a feast, it just seems like it should be intimate - gorging yourself and getting inebriated is not something near strangers should see.

We are now officially in the holiday season and my clan is now allowed to watch Elf and The Santa Clause. Thanksgiving is when we get out the Holiday DVD's and videos. Whoo hoo!

Saturday, September 30, 2006


I have recently been inspired (in no particular order) by Bob Dylan (of course), Roseanne Cash, Inca Alpaca yarn, John Dean, Johnny Cash (ongoing inspiration), and good ole cotton yarn. How are these inspirations related? I listen to music while I knit. Sometimes I watch DVDs, but it's mostly music.

A couple weeks ago I watched Roseanne Cash and Steve Earle on CMT's Crossroads. I don't actually think of these performers being so different, they actually toured together (or tried to during Steve's drug days), they are both great lyricists, and I would consider both of them Americana before I would ever call them country. Roseanne's album Black Cadillac is amazingly beautiful. She uses objects to link memories and wrote these songs during 2003 and 2004 after June and Johnny died. During 2005 her mother died as well, and her thoughts on love, loss, loneliness, and grief are very touching. It's great music to knit with in the background. Although I do at times have to stop knitting to concentrate on the lyrics or the very cool John Leventhal guitar lick.

I've started another tube shrug (like the one designed by Teva Durham in the Scarf Style book) only without the ribbing in a self-striping black and grey alpaca yarn. The ribbed version fits snuggly and I like it, but I want this one to be loose and a little more swingy. We'll see how it goes.

The reading is going slowly, but steadily. I'm reading John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience. The problem for me when I read those kinds of books is that I want all the conservatives I know to read them too, but that's the equivalent of asking me to sit though a broadcast of Fox News (I can't bear it, and I can't be quiet about why I can't bear it either). Even though this book was written by a former Republican I still think it would not be well received. Being raised by authoritarians myself, I totally get the connection with the conservative wing of the Republicans. The whole, "Obey and do not question my authority" was my life. Now look at me, I question everything and everyone and am a conspiracy theorist. I think that's because I realized that much of what I was taught about how the world worked was wrong, and now I'm afraid someone's going to lie to me about it again. Not taking any chances over here.

Cotton yarn...soft, lovely colors, quick knitting. The holiday gift list includes lots of warshrags and some baby bibs. My flickr account is full and I have to fork over some moola for a "professional" account, so I'm a picture free zone for another week or so. I'll share the creations soon.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Nature in the yard and the dirty laundry

This morning, while doing the laundry, I uncovered this beastie. I wasn't sure at first if it was real or rubber (it was on it's back and we have rubber bugs, and it was in the dirty laundry - it could have been accidentally picked up with the socks or something) but when I saw a leg wave I had the answer. Ain't no bugs on me. I think it's a kind of scarab beetle. I have a Peterson Beetle book, but there are thousands of different kinds of beetles, and none of them match this one exactly in the book. This is the second one of these in my house. A couple of weeks ago, I was paying the bills at my desk when one of these did a fly by and I dropped to the floor (I'm afraid of giant cockroaches and better safe than sorry) and waited it for it to land. It landed in the bill basket and I put it in a bug tent and sent it off to school with Chicky and the beetle book the next day.


I've seen a beautiful spider web covered in dew the past two mornings. I had to play with the camera...


Yesterday I went and fetched our new resident, a hatchling cornsnake. We got her from a dear friend and amazing teacher, Sarah Tichnor, and I'm letting the children name it. We used to have a cornsnake at KIN (Bob), he was very sweet, gentle, and we had to give him away due to new health regulations for child care programs. However, at my house, reptiles are fine. Sexing a cornsnake is difficult (and not so important to us) so I have dubbed it a girl. She still rattles her tail defensively when handled (only at first) and I have read conflicting articles on when and how often to hold her. Right now I'm letting her get used to her new home. Tomorrow the children come home and I'm thinking about the ground rules.

baby corn snake

Nature abounds.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Bob We Trust

In a much deserved tribute to Bob Dylan (a.k.a. The Man) I am joining the Cult of Bob. I admit my youth and cannot claim to be a High Priestess of Bob at this point in my life, but I do consider myself an Acolyte, for sure. I aspire to High Priestessness at some point on my earthy journey.

I came to know Bob in a personal way fairly recently. Mostly, when I thought of him what came to mind were various people doing parodies of his vocal style. My parents were not Dylan fans, so what I knew of him I learned from the radio or covers that other people did. I remember when Guns 'n Roses had a hit with Knockin' on Heaven's Door and my brother (who was a huge G'nR fan) said to me, "Yea, isn't that song great! Axel wrote that." I made my you-are-so-fuckin'-wrong face at him and said, "He so did not write that song, Wade. Bob Dylan wrote that, like, a decade ago!" and he didn't believe me.

While I was a nanny in Minneapolis, the people I worked for had a greatest hits album of Bob's and I liked it. Sometimes when I clean I like to have music on to inspire me, but I couldn't clean while listening to Bob. He commanded my full attention to listen to the lyrics. This was during the late 80's and I am chagrined to say I was usually listening to some crappy fly-by-night pop music that I can't remember now, or won't admit to because it would lower my cool factor.

Bob was revealed in the fullness and power of his glory to me by my ex-brother-in-law, Frank. I adore The Band (ex-husband liked them) and had a very obsessive Robbie Robertson phase (I can still tell you more than you want to know of his musical loveliness). Since Frank knew and shared that musical fondness, he gave me Bob Dylan and The Band's double album Before the Flood and The Band's double album Rock of Ages for Christmas one year. Those albums totally floored me and I listened to them incessantly. The force of Bob Dylan was pretty clear to me then. Soon after that I rented the old documentary Don't Look Back and was amazed to watch him sitting at a typewriter just churning out songs and handing them to Joan Baez. "Here's another one." It was incredible, he was like a musical channel from the other side or something.

Last weekend I had the amazing fortune to be GIVEN tickets to see The Man. Jimmy Vaughn opened for him (Jimmy is a very good guitar player, but it must be hard to have had a younger brother who could play rhythm, lead guitar, AND sing all at the same time. Jimmy can't sing and play at the same time. He may be able to, but I didn't see it.) When Bob came out in his black pants with the white pinstripe, black shirt, white jacket with the sparkly doo-dads, and the cowboy hat, I was a gonner. I hooted, I hollared, I danced in my little spot, I jumped up and down with joy. He started out with Maggie's Farm and went on to do some of my favorites: Masters of War, It's all Right Ma (I'm only bleeding), Don't Think Twice, Shelter From the Storm, Boots of Spanish Leather, All Along the Watchtower... it was and hour and a half of pure, unadulterated BOB DYLAN, people. He played keyboards, his band was tight and watched him like a hawk. He was clearly the Bandleader and they knew it.

He didn't chitchat at all. No little comments before the songs, just playing and pausing to wipe the sweat from his sacred, legendary brow. He didn't look out at the audience once (I'm pretty glad about this because it was a shame how few people were at the ballpark in Winston-Salem. Very embarrassing. Where were you guys?)

I tend not to get into commercial icons. All my tattoos are symbols that are relevant to me: tao, Haida frog, labyrinth, and a cool South American tribute to the sun god Ra. Right now though, as a tribute to The Man, I'm thinkin' about the crowned eye insignia of Bob's somewhere on my body. The question is, where?

When I was a kid, one of my father's favorite games was, Guess Who Wrote that Song? The answer most of the time was Hank Williams, which was part of his schtick. Now that I know more of Dylan's repertoire, I could have The Bob Dylan Version.

Bob's new album Modern Times is now available. He's in a swing and crooning phase in addition to his kick-ass rockin' style - consider yourself warned, but it's still good.

May Bob be with you.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A sphinx and Koigu

This week I found a honkin' caterpillar hanging out on some grapevine in one of my forsythia bushes. It is a beautiful eumorpha pandorus sphinx. Here it has scrunched it's head up because it is rather annoyed. I think the third instar is kind of like caterpillar PMS, something is going on in it's body and it doesn't totally get it, but it's all moody and slightly pissed off in general. I've never had a caterpillar try and bite me, but this one did. I was out of fresh grapevine in the house and it wandered in the night. After almost a full day of looking for it, I found it on the underside of the tablecloth (I looked under the table at least six times already, how I missed it I have no idea) and as I was trying to put it on some fresh leaves it came after my finger with some pretty fierce mandibles. It got my fingernail and I could hear the scraping. So glad that wasn't my skin.

pandorus sphinx

On a more gentle and predictible note, here is a very lovely monarch. I thought I remembered hearing a few years ago that they were harder to see these days (probably due to pesticides) so when I first saw it I thought it was one of those almost-monarch-looking butterflies. Nope, it's the real deal.


And, in the world of knitting... I've finally started the chevron scarf from the Purl knitting book. It is supposed to be 78" long, so maybe I'll be done by Christmas. It's made of the very lovely Koigu Premium Painter's Pallette Merino (KPPPM) in a blue and green. I am really liking the color changes.

chevron pattern

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dry spell (on a couple fronts)

Do I know my NC summers or what? The gardens are severly bummed...birdhouse gourd vines - dying, zucchini - dying, tomotoes - sun-dried on the vine. Sigh. Since our gardens are new this year, and this being the land of red clay, our dry gardens aren't surviving well with only a morning watering. The not-so-worked clay has hardened and when I water in the morning it merely runs off and barely soaks the soil. A friend and lanscaper has recommended Perma-till which I plan to use to help counteract the clay issue. I've also had a compost pile and a leaf mould pile that I hope will help for next year. Chicky's garden of sunflowers has made the Goldfinches very happy. There are two pairs that are regular feeders. When the wind is blowing it looks like an amusement park ride for birds. The little darlings hold on to the stems while they bob and sway and when the wind dies down a bit they snack on a few seeds. I haven't been able to get close enough for a good photo op, but I'm trying.

Knitting lull over here. Several projects, not much time. The kids are back in school and now that I have custody on week nights we spend all our time doing routine life stuff. Actually, it feels like I spend all my time in the kitchen, either preparing food or cleaning up from the most recent dining experience. On occassion, I let the kids help with either end of the process, but having a galley size kitchen is a hinderance.

I have been reading before I konk out at night, though. I just finished John Irving's novel Until I Find You. I really adore that man's writing. He doesn't write wholly likeable characters, but that's a lot like life, right? This one had a more somber tone with less comic relief than most of his other work, but I must confess, I didn't want it to end. By the end of the eight hundred and some pages I wanted to know what else happened to Jack Burns.

Right now I'm reading William Least Heat Moon's book Blue Highways. This was recommeded to my dad by a friend, and my dad mentioned it to me, and I mentioned it to another friend who read and enjoyed it, and now it's my turn. Part on the road adventure, part history, it's a great wandering through the back roads of the US in the late 70's.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wasps, spiders, and gardens

I haven't posted in a while, and here is yet another without much knitting. This week, I accidentally placed my finger on a wasp and it stung the shit out of me. Itchy, swollen, and icky looking, the lack of index finger dexterity limited my desire and ability to knit.

The gardens are looking good (if you pretend the weeds are invisible). On Saturday I found the biggest spider I've ever seen in real, up-close life. For a minute I wondered if someone lost their baby pet tarantula. But no, it is a spider. A Ummidia (trapdoor) spider to be precise. They build a tunnel and wait for prey to come by and then rush out, grab it, and drag it down their tunnel for lunch. I found the spider in the garden, so now I'm wondering: a. where the tunnel is, and b. how to avoid it. If Bowen ever sees that thing he will never go out of doors again.

giant spider

The birdhouse gourds in the boys garden are coming along nicely. One of the suggestions in the garden book is for the kids to etch their names in the side and see what happens as it grows. Cool, eh?

birdhouse gourds

Chicky's maze garden is great. The sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos are all blooming.


I finally finished the sock I started a very long time ago, yea! Now, I just have to knit the other one...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gardening post

I am still knitting, I swear it. I'm working on a sock I started a while ago, still finishing the "Olympic" shawl, and am working on the gauge for a new cami. It has been so hot and humid here lately that the yarn sticks to my fingers and I end up getting frustrated (when it's humid, my natural state is cranky).

The gobsmacking rains have been making my gardens happy, though. And, probably in another month or so, we'll have a long dry spell so I'll have something else to complain about. The following is a not-so-great picture of the boys' garden. I must have been breathing wrong or something, the other side of the garden is more interesting but the picture came out even worse than this, so this one will suffice for now. The garden plan is from Sharon Lovejoy's book Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots. This would be the Giant Garden and has giant pumpkins, birdhouse gourds climbing on the tent, scarlet runner beans covering the tunnel, and giant walking stick kale (on the other side). The pots in front have a cucumber and cranberry beans.

Giant garden

The veggie garden has three different varieties of tomatoes, basil, sage, dill, oregano, bush zucchini, jalapeno, borage, edamame, some other kind of pepper with a name that escapes me, two kinds of rosemary, and some flowers that were planted late. I am very much enamored with the borage flowers, next year I'm planting way more of that.

veggie garden

Borage flowers

borage flowers

The pictures of Chicky's Maze Garden (plan also from the same book) didn't do it justice so here's a cosmos that was blooming in it today instead:


Saturday, June 10, 2006

End of school and more FO's

Dad and Jean left yesterday and you cannot tell that Elena kicked butt on the house at all. Chaos reigns supreme once more.

The great news is that I finished the blanket in time for the last day of school. The class was gathered to look at the blanket when the mother of the unborn baby it was being gifted to walked in the door. She joined the gathering and when she saw the blanket she said it was the first thing she was putting around the new baby. I decided to make it look more like a quilt (that's the tie part) because of all the different sized squares. It would have been almost impossible to make invisible seams.

Bowen's class knitted blanket

Here is a felted box (Mason-Dixon Knitting, my friends) that I finished at 10:30 pm the night before it was being gifted. I am so pleased with the way it turned out, I'm making some for me. They're quick, lovely, and very addicting.

Felted box

I totally enjoy getting my children's portfolios at the end of the year. This is Chicky's self-portrait.

Erin self-portrait

She said some kids made fun of it, but I told her how much I liked it and that it reminds me of Lauren Child's illustrations (Clarice Bean). As a child, I had no idea how to draw; how to see and interpret what I was seeing. I love that about my children, they each have an interesting perspective when it comes to art.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Library bliss and warshrags

I love a solo library trip. BC (before children) I used to go to the library and hang out for at least an hour. Roaming. Browsing. Leaving with a pile of books for ME. Then, there was going to the library with small children. Visiting the children's section and getting what we needed quickly because they were more interested in pulling things off the shelves or running away from me in the non-fiction section. Now that they are older, there is much perusing and even using the computer to search by subject and finding what they want (I love that).

Nevertheless, today I really enjoyed going by myself. I got books for the children I teach, books for my children, and a book for myself. All within thirty minutes. Not that I'm about a race at the library, but I've finally figured out it's not worth it to check out more than one book for me at a time. I just don't have the time for reading like I used to do.

Here's some Mason-Dixon Knittin'. It's a warshrag, for those of y'all new to this here handknit item. I was havin' some severe flashbacks whilst I was aknittin' this one. I used to knit warshrags with my momma. She weren't much o' a knitter, mind, hers were supposed to be diamond shape but they weren't. But hell, it's just a warshrag, so there's no need to get all hep about it.

mason-dixon warshrag

I made another'n too. Tain't as fancy as the first, but it'll clean a plate (and that the imporan' part)!

stockinette version dishcloth

Friday, June 02, 2006

Time is a wastin' people!

Grandma and Grandpa will be here on Monday. Yep, that means cleaning and throwing shit in the attic and closets. My house has very little storage (very sad) and I typically use any available space for yarn storage. In order to not seem so pathetic, I've tidied the "yarn table" and my dear friend Elena came over and KICKED ASS on my living room, family room, art shelves, and Chicky's bedroom! The organizing gene skipped me, totally. I can throw things away, but when it comes to a cluttered room I tend to do stream-of-consciousness cleaning. I start in one room, carry something to another room to put it away and start cleaning there too, and then I have something to go somewhere else and, well, you get the picture. It's ugly. An hour into it and the whole house is torn apart and hopelessness sets in. So not pretty.

I still have to do my desk and catch up on the laundry and get my bedroom set up to be the "guest room." It's good I don't get the children back until Sunday morning. Chicky will be happy I'm bunking with her all week. That is like gravy to her.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another FO!

I'm feeling pretty good over here, I finished the birthday present (it had a June 4 deadline). Here is the completed Sunflower Shell

sunflower shell

The only other gifts of pressure, are the teacher gifts. Well, the teacher gifts and finishing the squares Bowen's class made into a baby blanket for one of their classmate's expected baby. That one is looking a little tricky and I keep looking at it and thinking, "The baby's not due until October, I have time." When really I should be bustin' ass on it, so they can present it to the mom-to-be on the last day of school (that would be June 9. Yea, I'm in some serious denial.) I'm making Chicky's teacher a booga bag. I did it out of a Lion brand that was half wool and half acrylic. I like it, except for the fact that I didn't felt the handle and the body of the booga together, and I think the handle should have been felted more. The drawback to that was that I was sick as shit of knitting i-cord. It's one of those things I knit and knit and measure every ten minutes and the measurement it EXACTLY THE SAME as it was ten minutes ago. I-cord hell.

Booga bag

I'm making Bowen's teacher felted boxes (out of the Mason-Dixon Knitting book). I want to make the flax hand towels, the swirly floor rug, the bath mat, the bubbly curtain, aw hell, I want to make all of it! My warshrag is comin' right along, too.

Our Memorial Day was spent planting seeds in all our empty flower pots, finding slugs (Chicky loves slugs, I don't know why. She names them and talks to them, and is probably the Best Friend of Slugs I know),

slug girl

and weeding the gardens. Bowen weeded their entire garden (Morgan faded pretty quickly on it). The birdhouse gourd vines are growing, the scarlet runner beans are happily clinging to the tunnel trellis, and the giant pumpkin, and giant walking stick kales are all coming up. By August that garden will, hopefully, be huge.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Kimono. Finished.

Well, I'm not so thrilled with the underarm seaming of the kimono. I ripped out the first seam three times before I got it to a state I can live with. I added a tie on the inside because I have a couple of these shirts, and if there's not a tie on the inside it doesn't look so tidy. This is so cute I'm using a larger picture.

finished kimono

I really hope Madison won't be too big for this (she may be a newborn of some heft and girth).

The Hardest Part

I am now at the hardest part of knitting. The baby kimono is blocked (and looking very cute), and I am waiting for it to dry so I can sew the seams and add the ties.

blocked kimono

Sigh. The key to blocking is the waiting until it is BONE DRY. I saturated this little cotton/poly blend softie with a mister on a big thirsty towel. It has been in the drying stage for well over twelve hours...I'm ready for it to be done now.

Maybe later tonight there will be a post of the finished piece.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Knitting Progress

I'm not done with the Olympic Shawl yet. There's a friend's birthday and a baby on the way that have kind of sent me off course for a little while.

The Sunflower Shell is almost done. The back and front are supposed to be the same, but I decided to make the back plain. The glitch is in the finishing. I'm not sure how I'm going to make the edging as pretty on the back as it is on the front. Ah, a challenge...

back of shell

A co-worker is expecting a rather large baby in a few weeks and I decided that baby needs a kimono. The pattern is by Christina Shiffman and is in Mason-Dixon Knitting. I think I will have to make another that is larger, so this is a trial run.

Newborn baby kimono

Happiness is a new sock, in a rockin' pattern. It never ceases to entertain me, self-patterning yarn. I am also a banana-head about trying to make both socks MATCH. This is very important to me. I don't know why, I consider myself something of a rebel in my regular life, but when it comes to socks the rebel leaves and becomes an anal-retentive, yarn-measuring knitter.

new sock

The other day, I received a gift of a wig for the dramatic play section of the childcare program where I teach. Bowen decided to try it on. He loved it so much, he now wants to let his hair grow out. He looks like a little skater dude. I don't care whether he has long hair or not, his father had long hair when I met him and was certainly part of the attration.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Bird update and knitting progress

I've been so negligent in the posting. My defense is it is that I have been spending lots of time gardening, and at soccer practice, and games. Lame excuses, they're all I have.

The baby birds are gone from the nest. Now my porch lamp is filled with an empty nest with bird poop all around the edges. I get keeping the inside of the nest clean, but seeing baby birds resting their little heads over the poop-laden edge bummed me out. Where are bird social services when you need them?

baby finches

There seemed to be another nest on the ground for the finches after their practice flights. Morgan tracked this little wacky flyer down. There were birds skittering all over the front yard for a few days. I have no idea how many survived.

almost grown finch

Well, it's May and I'm three quarters of the way done with my Olympic shawl. Think anyone cares? Me neither, but it's really cool. This is the Meg Swenson shawl out of the winter Vogue. I blocked the first end so I could decide if I wanted to rip it out and start over, and admire how cool it is. (If I liked it. It's not perfect, but I do.)

half a Swenson

And finally, the Sunflower Shell I started last summer. I don't think it will fit me when it's done, but I know several women it might. It's done in Classic Elite's Pima cotton/Tencel blend. It has an amazingly soft hand. It sort of self-finishes and I was doubtful, but it seems to be working.

Chelle's shell

When these projects are finished, I'll finish the pair of socks I've started.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Bowen and Morgan's ninth birthday. They had a friend over and ran around like banana heads for most of the day. Boys. Excited. Yikes. In the not so far off future, when the testosterone spikes start happening more than ten times an hour, I think I'm going to live in my very small storage shed in the back yard. Eowyn, our dog, says she's coming with me. Chicky will have to fend for herself (she's pretty good at it).

Morgan is laughing so hard he can't think of a wish, or catch his breath to hold it to blow out the candles.

Morgan birthday #9

Bowen is so busy worrying about blowing out his candles first (as soon as "Happy Birthday to You" is over) he hasn't even thought of a wish. The boy is damn happy, though.

Bowen birthday #9

These are the guys that made me realize that love is boundless. After two miscarriages I made up for it by having twins (it's good I hadn't had a singleton first because I had no clue how demanding a baby would be - not to mention two), they are the crazy lights that make my days brighter, and keep my life moving at a pace I never imagined. They are funny, bright, have memories like elephants, hair-trigger tempers, the silliest laughs, and the most beautiful eyes. I think I'll keep 'em.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Go mama bird!

Damn. I had no idea mama house finches laid so many eggs! We usually have at least two Carolina Wren nests at our house, formerly placed in my bedroom window (the storm window was stuck up) and in my hanging plant basket (no plants, just a nest). Since my house got new windows this past fall, the birds have been in a quandary. I look out the windows and there are little wrens in the bushes looking in at me and chirping (in an angry sort of way). I've tried explaining that I am just the tenant, much as they are, and I had no control over the new double pane windows that save me electricity. They don't care. When the windows were going in, the landlords also "trimmed" the bushes around the house. Hacked within an inch of their lives is more like it, and the birds cannot build any kind of protected nest there, either.

Last night, I had company and I used the front door (don't usually do that) and the next thing I knew there was a mama house finch, flapping and sqwalking her beak off. I saw her fly to my defunct porch light and saw a nest. Today, since I am short, I held my camera up and aimed it in the nest and Holy Toledo there are at least five eggs in there. No wonder she was raising a ruckus! If I had worked that hard, I certainly wouldn't want some overgrown shmuck to fuck up all my efforts. I don't know how many days it takes to grow each egg, but as a mother of twins I'm here to tell you this is some amazing work people! It may actually be a Purple Finch, I haven't been able to get a good look at them yet. There's too much frantic flapping when I see them.

Shhh, here are the little beauties!

house finch

I love a tulip. I have several yellow ones, but only two red ones.


Today has been a day spent mostly in the garden, and I look forward to being in it again tomorrow, and Monday. The children will be here to help plant their gardens for the day and to celebrate the boys ninth birthday. I can't believe we've all made it this far!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hitting the books, and the sticks

I have to say how much other knitters inspire totally rocks! Ideas of things I'd never even consider, but now that I see it, wow! I am so thoroughly enjoying Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. It is so funny and so cool. I can't wait to try a log cabin blanket and one of the circular rugs. If it weren't for the socks on the needles, the tank top from last year I need to finish and about three other projects, I would be all over one of them right now. As always, the lovely Yarn Harlot (a.k.a. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) continues to inspire with her basic patterns, and her justification for the "knitting lifestyle." Knitting Rules! is making my spare minutes fly by.

The non-knititng book I am currently reading (and almost done with) is Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? It is perfect timing for me. I've spent the past couple of years saddened by the lack of general feminism in this country. Women worked so hard to be able to go out and earn a living, and now many of them want to stay home and be taken care of (without their children present while they are at home!). What's up with that? And plastic surgery? Anyway, Maureen's got some interesting thoughts on the subject and I'm enjoying them.

I'm working on a cool pair of socks right now (Grumperina's Jaywalker pattern) in Opal (the band is gone but it's stripey purple, blue, yellow, and white). The pattern has me hooked and I'm movin' like lightening on them. I am only still on the first sock, but hopefully my interest will hold me through a quick go of sock number two. Hey, who knows, could be a bonus pair of birthday socks for Jean?!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Herps, ho!

I am so digging this weather. I love having the windows open so the whole house smells like line-dried laundry. This morning, after picking up the kids from their dad's house we came home and started working in the garden. Chicky caught this grey tree frog and it hopped on my new sock yarn! (It must be a kindred spirit.)

grey tree frog knits

grey tree frog on sock yarn

We went with our friends Mel and Angela to the Carolina Botanical Gardens (first trip of the new year) and nature was freaking everywhere! The weather was great, there were leaf buds on many trees, and the river was cold at first, but very nice. It's always a wonder we see more than a toad when the children are around because they are LOUD! Once we got down to the stream we saw this juvenile northern water snake.

Northern water snake

It was very sweet and calmed down quickly once caught.

northern water snake 2

Then, after Mel and the kids went up the stream and saw a larger water snake, Morgan spotted this along the bank:


Angela, being very quick and nimble caught the little bugger. I think it is a northern cricket frog.

northern cricket frog

The hard thing about identifying juvenile creatures is that most i.d. books show pictures of adults.

P.S. No herps were hurt for these photographs. All creatures were released in the area where they were briefly held.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cherry blossoms

Spring is here! I know, the signs of spring sprang a while ago here in North Carolina. The daffodils started blooming last month, and my forsythia blooms are long gone. The redbud trees are still in bloom and yesterday my ornamental cherry tree had one little double bloom open. It is bustin' out all over today.

cherry blossom1

The Garden Project is underway. A few weeks ago Mel came over and we tilled three circular beds. Since then I've amended the soil and have been turning it every week so the weeds will hopefully be less after the planting. I planted my lettuces and spinach late, by southern standards, but they are in the shade and I'm hoping for the best. Tomorrow the children come back to me and we will put up the tepee and tunnel in the boys garden.

I finished Jean's birthday socks. Jean is my step-mother, but she's more like my real mom. She picked out sock yarn while she and dad were here taking care of me and the children in November. Right now she's on her way to Florida, so her socks will be waiting it out in her P.O. box until her return. By the time she and dad get back to Grand Marais, MN I'm optimistic the snow will be gone and she won't need them for a while. (I have memories of wearing a hat and mittens to watch fireworks on the fourth of July once, so wool socks in the summer are not completely out of the question.)

Jean's socks

By the way, the book that the socks are resting on is called Blankets, by Craig Thompson. Part truth and part fiction, it is a graphic novel based on his first love and childhood. Becca gave it to me and I sat down and read it last night. Craig came from very religious stock, and his story resonated with me. He felt like an outsider at school, church camp, and his home life sucked. His personal pilgrimage from devout Christian adolescent to an adult that put it aside was very moving. I thought about it all night and most of today. It's funny, sad, very honest, and if it weren't thirty dollars I'd rush out right now and buy my own copy.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

New hair, finally

Ok, here's the new hair. I am not very girlie, I used to make more effort in this area than I do now. If I were to put product in my hair and then blowdry it, I have no idea what would happen, but it is not something that I normally do. I think it's because when I was in junior high and high school I did all that and my dull, limp, hair would just be lank again in half an hour. I have a new coif and it's just wash, pull a hair pick through it and go. So please don't tell me how good it would look, if I would only straighten, perm, product, and roll it. It won't happen. If it did, it would automatically undo all that work within a few minutes anyway. This is my hair:

new me

Friday, March 24, 2006

Vegan? Ha!

I'm thinking maybe I need a new, personal definition for my food choices. I was appalled to read the "good news" in VegNews that Strawberry fucking Quick is vegan! Hot damn, I've been craving that....NOT! Why, if I do not want animal products (tainted with antibiotics and growth hormones, or not) would I find chemical food acceptable? Hey, so are a few hundred other chemical foods. I don't care. I don't recommend, want, or support them. Get away from me Hideous Non-Food Options! Hell, I think maybe a McDonald's french fry is vegan too. If I want a piece of genetically modified, corn syruped piece of potato, I'm in luck!

I now e-mail companies. I highly recommend it. About a week ago I emailed a company and asked what a hydrolyzed soy protein is and they replied it was a vegetable derivative in a few of their products. No shit, Sherlock, I got the whole veggie thing down. That so did not answer my question, people. And it is sad that they don't know what a hydrolyzed soy protein is, either.

I would like to add that I still use titles (e.g., To Whom It May Concern) and this particular company responded at their close with Regards, Product Questions. How lame is that? I couldn't resist, I responded to them by saying Dear Product Questions and closed with Regards, Former Potential Customer. I was going to close with Regards, Vegan Hominid but I thought they wouldn't get my smartass humor.

For all you people about Rocking the Boat of Complacency, please e-mail Kelloggs and tell them vegetarians and vegans don't want genetically modified foods in their MorningStar Farms products. I don't believe them (that it's safe and nutritious).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Google me not

Sometimes, just for the hell of it, I'll Google people I know to see what comes up. Usually nothing much. When I Google myself, my work comes up. Fine. Not exciting, but fine. I tried Googling my married surname and I am all over the place, people! I am the NCAA director of professional development and (even more notable, in my mind) there's a woman with my name in Midland, MI that won a $1000 gift card to Wal-mart and was so psyched she was jumping up and down. I have been known to jump up and down when I'm excited, but I have never jumped about Wal-mart. I don't even shop there. I actively AVOID Wal-mart. I jump up and down if you say there's a new place within a hundred mile radius to check out yarn. I also jump up and down if I know Guinness is on sale somewhere, but not about Mal-wart.There, now you know, I'm not that Rochelle. I am imagining the me that I know to be somewhere in the socio-economic bracket between those other two Rochelle's. May the force be with Rochelle's everywhere, we're all just tryin' to do the best we can.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pretend Love

Here's a shameless plug for the Avett Brothers new CD "Four Thieves Gone" - I know I've said loudly, proudly, and publicly that I am in love with them. I am. But I am also aware that I have at least a decade on them in age and they are T-R-O-U-B-L-E (they're young, but they may have taken a few pointers from Steve Earle in the womanizing department). If you doubt me listen to their lyrics. Bowen's favorite song on the album is "Pretend Love." Since the darling boy is eight (nine next month-yikes!) the idea of pretending to be in love with someone freaks him out (me too) and is very confusing to him (ditto for me). I know this because we had a discussion about the lyrics.

Back to my point, the Avett Brothers rock, and they're cute and charismatic, but they are Trouble. "Matrimony" is a favorite song of mine on the album. Distration #74 is also good, so is A Lover Like You, It's all good. They are funny, they scream over acoustic guitars and a stand up bass. They have a stomp drum and an electric guitar occasionally, and I adore them and all their shenanigans. Bad Boys that they are, I think they have to be bad to rock so well and have such great lyrics. They were raved about at Merlefest last year, and just had a sold out show at the Cat's Cradle. I'm all about the Avett Brothers.

Oh, I'm also all about a hair cut. I used to say that I wouldn't have long hair after 30. Well, at long past 30 I cut it. I'm diggin' the hell out of it. It's great, easy to wash and comb, and feels less like Frump-girl.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Funk and Fish

There's been a lack of posting due to general malaise and personal funk. I had a fine birthday - spent with good friends sharin' the love at a Thai restaurant. I bought myself three CD's for my birthday. I am in love with the Avett Brothers - they are like crazy bluegrass punk! I've kind of got a crush on them, but they're too young for me and all their songs are about girl troubles. They are funny and good. The second CD is in almost constant rotation, it is Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell's album Begonias. I grew up on country duets and this album is like a refreshing blast from the past. Great lyrics, great 70's sound without over-production. I cannot get enough of it. KT Tunstall's album Eye to the Telescope is also very amazing. This woman performs by herself, playing everything when she's live. Gorgeous voice, beautiful lyrics - she's got it all. So, even though I'm in Personal Funkland I'm listening to good music.

We have had a pet trade at our house. A little background is necessary to explain this one. About four years ago I had this wild idea of breeding guinea pigs. I am an early childhood educator and we had several female guinea pigs at work and parents kept asking about having them as pets. I decided to breed some and give them away. Well, as you can probably imagine, it soon got out of hand. I put one male (Tree) in baby pool in the kids' room with three sows and soon had a whole passel of pigs. Oddly enough, the interested parents vanished like smoke on a windy day and I was left to find homes for all of them. Many of them ended up at the child care program. I gave four away (two each) to my sons' first grade classrooms. In Bowen's class there were Scooby Doo and Captain Underpants (I had nothing to do with the names). After a couple of months Captain Underpants died from injuries sustained at the hands of one of the children in the classroom (it was really sad). The surviving pig came home to live with us (Scooby Doo). Scooby has lived in the laundry room and was then in the boys' room on their desk. He has had quite the time being held by the children, riding in Chicky's baby stroller, being put to "sleep" in her doll bed, and left to run around on the sofa.

A few months ago at the child care program, a woman knew of an African Pygmy Hedgehog in need of a rescue and asked if we wanted it. She came to us in a plastic tub; scared, very dirty, and neglected. We tried letting her out to run around when children weren't there- and she would after about an hour or so of sitting all curled up in a ball and making her huffing/hissing sound. But she didn't seem very happy. It just didn't seem fair to have a scared nocturnal animal living in a place that can be quite loud during her prime sleeping hours. So, that's where the trade comes in. Fish (named by a child at the program, we think she was thinking about a pufferfish when she came up with the name) has been enjoying our house. Here is a picture of her on a recent explore under my desk:

fish the hedgehog

Even though I'm funky I've got cute prickly company.