Friday, December 28, 2007

I won! I won!

I cannot believe I forgot to let y'all know about my good luck (and perhaps an example of my Phoebe like premonition skillz). Skrilla had a "Not-So-National Finish a Sweater Month contest. Skilla had a series of unfinished sweater projects and asked folks to predict how many and which ones she would finish during her self challenge.

On the 19th I got a comment on my blog from her telling me I won. Hm, I guess the fact that I got this email the day before I left for NY may have something to do with forgetting to brag, er, tell you about this. When I got the message I ran over to her blog and found this, so excited I tell ya!

From her blog I really should hate her because she is so damn cute and talented, plus she models for Lexie Barnes bags, has had Knitscene accept one of her designs. I mean really, so folks are just too wonderful. Did I mention she is skinny too? And cooks. And is probably acing grad school unlike me? When I am in the Pioneer Valley next summer I will simply have to take her out for the beverage of her choice.

Yeah me. It's like an extra holiday gift that comes late, thus extending the joy!

Christmas Past

Exhausted, nervous and excited, I dozed on the first leg of my travels last Thursday from Dayton OH to White Plains, NY. The second leg I stayed awake, pondering any number of things - almost none that I can recall a week later. Except one.

I realized that thirty-three years ago I sat on a plane, possibly on the same date, for holiday travel. Everything was different that time, first off I was still a child. My stepmother and I were heading from New York City to Phoenix, Arizona. Fran, my stepmother had just birthed my siblings (a set of fraternal twins) about six weeks previously and we were taking them to meet Fran's favorite relatives (and some my favorite relatives as well), Aunt Thelma and Uncle Walter.

I have nothing but fond memories of these folks who treated me as family from first meeting. They had been living in upstate New York State, the Albany area maybe, before moving to warmer climes. Walter was still tall though I suspect he had lost a few inches over the decades, and came across as what I now see as a mid-western country folk kind of man. Aunt Thelma was a very proper but warm woman who had iron gray hair that I saw once undone from the braided bun of daily wear. Her hair was stunningly long and still lush. I tried so hard to copy her evening ritual of brushing her hair a hundred strokes after seeing her mane but at age eight I didn't have the follow through that was required for such things. Their upstate house had a lovely fireplace by which Thelma and I did jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps it was during this visit that Thelma gave me this lovely crochet hook set that had a handle and a number of different hooks sizes that one could screw into the handle. Now with what I know of the fiber arts it is more likely it was a tatting set as the hook sizes were quite tiny. Many years later I let go of that set and have regretted it every time I think of it. It would have been the only thing I had from that lovely woman. I remember eating strawberries at their house, and my mother discovering that she apparently was no longer allergic them, much to her delight.

Somewhere in a photo album that is probably still in a box somewhere in my new home is a photo of Fran and I, each holding a baby. As I recall you cannot really see my face because I am looking down at my sister. Well I think it was my sister as she was the smaller of the babies so it would have made sense to give me the lightweight babe to hold through the journey. I don't remember much of either flight except that I think it went well, meaning no screaming infants for the entire trip. There is another photo that I have from that trip, it is of me standing by Thelma and Walter's tree, which I am pretty sure was artificial, looking awkward. I know that had been trying to finish a a woven fabric green jumper to wear during the trip in my school sewing class in time to wear for this trip but I cannot remember if I did, or if it's what I am wearing in that photograph.

It was there that I ate red snapper for the first time and have loved it ever since. It was also there that I first saw Morgan Fairchild in Search for Tomorrow. I believe her character was in prison when I began watching. It may be the only soap on CBS I ever watched. I remember how it seemed so incongruous for it to be Christmas while it was warm, in a place with no snow and things blooming. Of course even with two moms with advanced degrees in English I didn't think of that word to describe what I was feeling back then.

I think I saw Thelma and Walter only one more time, about four or fives years later, in Brooklyn. Somewhere I have a contact sheet of photos I took with a few shots of Walter, but I fear none of Thelma. I know we went to Central Park, played with "the twins", as they were referred as forever - a habit I am trying to break, in the back yard of the house.
Again my portfolio of work from those years is in a box somewhere and I have probably ditched the negatives in an attempt to declutter my life. The memories will always be there it's true, but sometimes a physical reminder is really nice to glance at, especially when it can trigger such warm, happy thoughts.

I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday and created sweet memories to recall randomly in the future.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hello my peeps!

I see it's been a long time since I posted. Please accept my apologies. A quick trip to NY from December 20-24 evidently took up a lot of space in my thoughts. On the trip there I had a post start in my head but it was an eventful trip, and I was tired so it didn't get written. But I think it still will.

Thanks for sticking around and checking in. I can't believe I have been doing this blogging thing for over two years (I totally missed my blogiversary back in late October).

More later because I do have thoughts and stories. Just need some time to sit and write. Bye!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

A new hobby

Thrifting for yarn. I have been thinking about this because my dear friend Jennie has been doing this for awhile. Let me make it clear I am not searching for skeins of yarn but sweaters that can be reclaimed for new projects. Now that I have a ball winder I think this will be easier. There are lots of ideas about the best way to process such yarn. Some folks think it should be dampened and "stretched" to lose it's pattern memory; some think it's unnecessary.

Thursday my new buddy Andi (MysticSpiral on ravelry), called out of the blue, offering to pick me up and take me to her favorite thrift store. As long as I didn't mind having the advent
ure with a toddler, her lovely daughter. So off we went to Village Outlet, or something like that, and I received an excellent lesson on how to check for the right construction for unraveling. This place is fabulous with a capital F. Great prices, awesome labels, neat and orderly.

For less than $10 I purchased three sweaters, two stuffies for Wyatt's stocking, a small surpr
ise for TGF, and a holiday door mat in perfect condition and something that would make TGF very happy.

Okay first up a beautiful, 100% merino
wool sweater from Banana Republic for $1.75. Yes that's right less than two dollars. It's a soft lavender. No I have no idea what I will do with it. None but it's so soft.

The weather lately has been horrible cloudy and today when I shot this, well, it was snowing and now sleeting.


The second find is also Banana Republic top that I am almost tempted to keep as is because the tailoring is beautiful. But it's really too preppy for me. The colour is spectacular. I was thinking a hat and something when Andi suggested Mrs. Beeton's. Certainly something to think about! Or perhaps Delicato Mitts, or Anne's Orchid Lace Mitts! This lovely yarn source cost me $1.00.


Just when Andi and I were just about ready to move onto the toy area so Micah would finally get to have a bit more fun I found this last item that I just couldn't turn down. An XL J.Cr*w 100% wool (worsted/aran weight) sweater in a gorgeous brick red. Lots of yarn to make something for TGF. Maybe even Central Park Hoodie, a pattern I have not been drawn too, probably in part because it seems like everyone in the knitting blog world has been. (Again I must apologize for the photo.)

I told TGF about this place and we went the next day coming home with three winter coats/jackets, a fleece balaclava, and a tablecloth to use as a curtain for the kitchen doorway to the mudroom/bathroom/laundry room - all for about $14.00. I found a Lond*n Fog rain coat for $3.00 but it was too big :-(. Really great stuff at this store, I'm telling you. I cannot wait until I have real money to buy some clothes there. If I ever get a job I am seriously going to need a work wardrobe I fear.

Anyway, I now have a new addiction but at least this one is inexpensive, involve reuse, and is creative.

Oh! If anyone doing this wants "labels" for their yarn Andi has designed some awesome ones, available here, it's a pdf file.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The bells were ringing

Sunday we took a drive around the west side of Oakwood. I think it was the west side, whichever side it was, the homes are amazing. Really beautiful, bordering on estates rather than "homes". I received a tour of parts of the area I hadn't driven through yet and got to just look as TGF drove.

Then we went to Carillon Historical Park, which she had just mentioned to me the other day. As we drove into the entrance she mentioned she hadn't been there in a long time. Not since her Aunt Kay died as it was their special place. Aunt Kay has been gone for about twenty years. I felt a silence come over me with that inform
ation as if I was about to enter sacred grounds, which in many ways, I was.

It was an appropriately gray day with a chill in the air, a bit of wind, and
there was not a lot of dialogue between us as we wondered the grounds.


This is how it looked walking down on of the roads of exhibit buildings but it felt more like this shot.









There was a beautiful statue of Maria Aull who the Au
llwood Audubon Center in Dayton is named after.



As we were leaving I decided it would be appropriate to take a photo of the Carillon tower of bells. They rang as I shot this last photo of the day.







Thursday, December 06, 2007

In which our heroine has spontaneous company

Via ravelry (have I mentioned how much I love that place!) I heard from Emily aka DaintyKitty that she was feeling the need to get out of the house and socialize. There were no knitting meet ups that I knew of, so I offered that we could just meet up somewhere or she could come to my animal infested, messy home. She replied that she "would love to come to Chez Dharma" and that animal filled, messy homes were the best kind. How could one not adore a response like that?

The idea of company helped to get my butt in gear and I straightened up which meant I was pretty happy with the place, despite the lack of hanging art, the dingy 10 year old paint job and our cheap living room curtains that barely dim the sum or block views from the outside at night. It also helped me to finally make my third batch of apple crisp before the fruit went bad. Gosh that stuff is so good. The other day I had an itch to make scones and I also wanted to make potato leek soup. Again before the leeks died a miserable death.

By the time Emily got here the crisp was done and had made the place smell great. I was just cutting the scones when the knock came so those went in the oven moments after she arrived. Later we had one each with the mother-in-law's refrigerator strawberry jam. Tasty stuff. The scone recipe is so simple and so good.

At about 7:45pm I realized the time and asked Emily if she would mind moving her knitting into the kitchen so I could make soup. She was most accommodating while I sort of consulted a recipe but largely winged the entire thing. TGF came home as the soup was simmering and we had a round of introductions. Emily announced that she really ought to be moseying home.

Later TGF had a scone and when she was told that they were easy breezy, she asked if that meant I would be making them once a week or so. I guess she likes them. Yeah!

Reflecting back I forgot in a way how nice it is to have company, to just hang out with someone. Chat, cook, and knit with someone. It's like I live here or something. How cool is that?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

In which our heroine has left the house 3 nights in a row

It is truly amazing that I can be so busy in the evenings when I have just arrived in this state. Of course for some of this business all praise must go to Ravelry which allows me to find all these knitting/fibrous things to do.

Sunday was not the best night in the house as TGF was very quiet, not wanting to talk, and I could not separate from her mood. Luckily I had an option! On Sunday evenings there is a knitting meet up at a St*rbucks near the Dayton Mall. Some women get together starting at about 8ish and goes, as I learned later, until the last person goes home. This particu
lar St*rbucks is open 24/7 and as there is caffeine available it certainly lends itself to the night owl crew. There were only two others who showed while I was there (WildWoman wrote later to say she got there at about 11pm). It was still fun and I learned that these two women were open and amusing to hang with for an evening. It was definitely the right thing to do rather than stay home. I didn't even spend any money on tasty drinks.

The next night I had already decided I would go to Cody's lacrosse practice/game as it would be one of the last for the season. I arrived at Jeriann's place just as the
y were leaving to warm up the car - it was quite cold last night! We had a good chat while Cody listened to the radio. It was quite the night of meeting up with folks. Jer's parents came by and it was really great to meet them. Her mom sent me off with hug for TGF. Michael, Cody's godfather came with his wife and there 19 month old son, but they couldn't stay long so Cody didn't get to see them. Cody wanted to me stay for dinner, but mom said homework was more important. I got a hug before he headed for the front door, and just before entering he called out "Love you". Melted my heart I tell you.

Tonight is Tuesday and I love my knit night at Therapy Cafe meet up. These
women are fun and it's so close to home, it makes it easy to go. We were a smaller group tonight and unfortunately Squeezleknits didn't make it. Also Dainty Kitty didn't show, boo. I showed off my chemo cap (photo and details soon) for Catherine, worked on TGF's Odessa hat and blatantly ignored the sleeve of her sweater. A lot of my annoyance with the sleeves are the needles, Clovers, which I really do not like but they were all I could find when I needed them the other week. I really like the Silky Wool yarn and I think it's going to make a lovely little hat for her. The company was so entertaining that I misread the directions and wound up having to tink the four rows I knit. Never fear, I have reknit about half of that while watching the final episode of the Tin Man on the SciFi channel. Good stuff that was!

It almost makes me want to go out again tomorrow night and you know what? I could because there is a knitting gathering at the B&N near where I was Sunday night with yet another group. Isn't that a trip? And I didn't go to one last night in North Dayton. And I think there is one on Friday morning near TGF's store. Crazy huh?

Oh South Park is having their first annual Xmas party (I will have to talk to someone about how politically incorrect it is not to say "holiday", don't you think?) on Saturday at our tavern. Admission is two cans of food per person. I think we can manage that. I have tentatively invited Jeriann and Cody for candling lighting and latkes on Sunday, which will also be the day we put the tree up.

Looks like a busy week over here in South Park for me.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Red is the new green?

On my homepage I have the Dayton Daily News headlines as one of my data sources. This is something I added to the page a few months before I moved there. It was amusing to see the difference in the news, and many times the articles links had typos. So cute, in a provincial sort of way.

Tonight a headline reads, "Some Ohio roads will get beet juice mix to keep ice at bay". Beet juice? Wouldn't it be better if more people were eating beets? Food products for other purposes, in bulk at that? Will beets become a prized commodity if this takes off? According the article, this is a "green" solution. If you read the article you will notice an editing problem, or perhaps it was a cut & paste error. Whatever. It's kind of cute, as I said above.

The paper itself is small, a lot of general local coverage, little world news really. The obituaries are rather comforting in that almost everyone is older, 70 years old and above is the average. Yes I do scan, sometime read obits on a regular basis when getting a paper. It's an interesting bit of sociology, or morbid thinking, which calls to you.

Truthfully I mostly read the sale circulars, particularly for groceries and hardware things, the coupons pages, and I do the crossword puzzle. It's nice to be able finish one on a regular basis. I regret to say the NYT is often beyond me. Maybe it's because I don't read the rest of the paper enough.

PS: This is my 400th post! Wowza!

Friday, November 30, 2007

A small success

Yesterday I found a recipe that sounded good but I realized that was missing a key ingredient - corn starch. Do you see a theme here? About two weeks ago I was missing baking soda. There is something about moving that makes basic ingredients normally in one's pantry disappear.

My shopping list today including, besides corn starch, plastic for the windows, processed ham slices (don't ask), weather stripping, toothpaste, butter, glass cleaner, contact lens cleaner. It was an exciting day at Home Despot and Me(i)jers I tell you.

This vegetable pot pie was quite easy to put together but of course there was TGF's picky palate to potentially please. Visually it looked fabulous and smelled quite tasty as well.

It was one of those times when the Life commercial plays in my head, "She likes it!"
She even had seconds.

Another success, this post concludes my post a day for everyday in November.
Happy end of NaBloPoMo my compatriots!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Whom the Academic Bell Tolls

I believe it tolls for me. Two months have passed during which I had planned to be writing papers. The books haven't even been unpacked. Due to lack of payment of administrative fees associated with taking my leave of absence, I have been administratively withdrawn. As I have scanned help wanted ads in two states it seems that as much as I love the focus of doing the marriage & family therapy route, it's not that practical. The plan had been to write papers this fall/winter (which could still happen), reenroll with a change in concentration and finish up in the spring semester with an MA in Psychology and reassess things. However that will cost a LOT of money.

Now I have been thinking of writing the papers just for me, start paying back loans in the spring and apply to a local MSW program. It as been weighing on my mind a lot. It has probably been contributing to my on and off again depression, night anxiety, and inertia. I am burdened by my "should" list, my "should have done" list, my "what if" list. There are more, but you get the idea.

So today I researched some local schools that offer MSW degree and have requested information from two of them. Unfortunately any other school requires the GREs. Ugh. The practice session I did on the spur of the moment a few years ago was god awful and I really sucked. This could be a very ugly process.

I wish I knew someone, objective and informed on the degrees and job market to talk to about this decision, path, last ditch effort to pull a master's out of this procrastinating body of mine. If any of my four readers have any ideas, let me know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A little closer towards settled

Our new to us refrigerator and stove were delivered today and they look fabulous! Once again I have a bottom freezer which I love love love! It's a little bigger than what we had but doesn't overwhelm the room at all and the seals work! The stove is no longer avocado green. (I do have pictures but I'm feeling lazy.)

The new stuff inspired a little rearranging after TGF went to work. Finally the moving blanket came off the vintage coke machine and I turned it the right way. The table is now faced the other way and makes it look more inviting.

Then I worked on the front porch, finally moving the two extra chairs, the box of garden tiles and the pitch fork away and into the basement. I dug out our wind chimes collection, cleaned each and every chime rod (do those have an actual name?) and hung them. Cleaned the glass topped table and swept. It made things look so homey and welcoming. Before TGF came home I lit the candle on the table. I like to do that every few nights as it seems like nice visual (and she likes the scent, magnolia, southern babe that she is) to greet her at night.

I also went through all the picture/mirror boxes to find the mirror and the glass tops for two of my bedroom pieces. In the process I labeled all the boxes so when we are ready to hang things we know where to find them. There is no medicine chest in the bathroom and TGF hates having to go downstairs to do her 'do, so I hung the beveled mirror above my dressing table so we can have something for such purposes. Tomorrow come hell or high water I am unpacking my jewelry and my make up! Another good task to do would be to experiment with the one rod I have to start turning the attic space into a real closet and have access to more clothes.

Slowly but surely it's getting good in here. Paint would help a LOT in every room but that will have to wait a bit longer. One needs cash for such thing dontcha know. There is a tight budget going on in this place. I do think it will be a bit longer before we have a big shindig here. Oh well. In due time, in due time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"I got nothing. Well scratch that I'm sure there's something in there but I can't find it", I whined.

"Well just start writing", TGF said with encouragement.

In truth I feel like the majority of my writing this month has been horrible mediocre however I do feel like it has been a good exercise to write everyday. It has also been a good exercise to use my camera more, of course the neighborhood has been very inspiring so that helps.

Random thoughts will follow.

Went to Therapy Cafe again this week, really like this group of women. I am happy to find people to hang out with so early in my time in Ohio but I miss my friends in California. I miss real talks, maybe not "real" but the ease of time, bond, the intangible something when you "know" someone.

There has been a thread on the Queer Ravelry board on Ravelry about coming out in groups. The knitting groups I've gone to I have been direct and just matter of factly stated my partner is female. On another board, Dayton Fibers, someone was inviting me to another knitting group and mentioned that husbands/boyfriends were welcome, that they went to another table to prevent estrogen overload while talking geek speak. I laughed at the posting and easily wrote, "Actually my beloved is a woman who is also petrified of excessive amounts of estrogen and is extremely geeky. To me such a response is a no-brainer. How could I hang out with these folks and not be out? It is rare that I am not clear about this part of my life.

As I write this I am watching Law & Order: SVU. Paramedics would NEVER have the police officer run an IV. ARGHHH. Of course Cathy's bag of fluid brakes and contractions start within minutes. God I hate pregnancy, labour and birth on television. I am trying to stay quiet during the rest of the episode but I have TGF so well trained that she is having a hard time not muttering. It's not working I am muttering, biting my tongue, clenching my fists in order not to say anything.

Time for another bowl of pasta.

Monday, November 26, 2007

One task down

Right before moving in I found out that I could rip out the rugs in the two bedrooms upstairs (and on the stairs - ugh!). Since we were getting our belongings unloaded on a Wednesday, and TGF was in Indiana at corporate training it was my task to complete.

The rug was a lovely blue as you can see. This is a bunch of it all pulled up. I forgot to take a
photo before embarking on the job. Much to my dismay in our bedroom was not the wood floor I had hoped for but tile. Ugly tile.


I search
ed around for an inconspicuous spot to see how far down until wood, if there was a real wood floor or just a subfloor. A short time of exploring netted a wood floor. Luckily the substrate it was laid on was not as thick and weighty as when I did this in my house in Massachusetts.
Another lucky thing was discoving the other room (which will be the office) only had carpeting over wood.


There was yet another discovery however. Underneath the tile was a linoleum "rug" laid in the center for the room. I decided to leave it to add some charm even though one section was less than pristine. A few hours later I had done about 80% of the room, it was about 7 or 8 at night. Jeriann and Cody had stopped by and helped me clean up.

Today I finally took crowbar and hammer to the rest of the floor. I love it. It makes it feel homey, more like a bedroom now. Next on my list is the rest of the rug on the landing (which is tiny) and the stairs. TGF has been making some headway in the office too which is exciting.

Oh and Wednesday we are getting newer appliances as the stove and refrigerator! The ones we have are at least 25 years old and I may be being generous. The "new" ones are used but way newer (I hope - our landlady is supplying them). It looks like I will be getting one with the freezer on the bottom - I love those.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The NaKniSweMo attempt

Inspired by this sweater I bought some inexpensive yarn made of very soft acrylick in a beautiful heather gray with the idea I would make it for TGF. This was back while we were in motel land. However when I showed this photo of the pattern, she gave it a distinct thumbs down.

So the hunt then begun for just the right pattern. Many sweaters that I would love are too femmy for her. There was a recent thread on the butch-femme forum at Ravelry about just such a dilemma of a good pattern for a soft butch (or as TGF prefers "tomboi"). Luckily I already knew to run ideas by her.


Finally I found one that passed her muster and was the right gauge for the yarn I had already purchased on the Garn Studio Drops Design site. It seemed like a design I could handle.

But between home hunting, the moving, an
d the settling in nothing appeared on my needles. Finally roused from my knitting slumber by NaKniSweMo, I decided to cast on and unofficially join in (along with NaBloPoMo, which I did official join. Can I just say that via the Randomizer I have found so many blah blogs, not to mention many people have long since bagged on the premise. But I digress.)

This is the first time I have attempted an adult sized garment, it's also my f
irst bottom up sweater with raglan sleeves. Don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Well I don't really I am just repeating details from the pattern. The bottom up to a bind off for sleeves went rather well and used almost an entire skein.

Then in a flurry of bravado I thought I would do two sleeves on two circulars. Firs
t I researched on the web, followed by learning the long tail cast-on (ridiculous easily!). I began trying to cast on but no matter what I did it just did not square up At.All.

Deep frustration. Finally I proceeded w
ith dpns. I figure when I start increasing I can switch to a pair of circulars and begin the second sleeve on dpns and catch up to try to do them sort of simultaneously. Given how far I have gotten since I finally gave into the dpns yesterday I think it is unlikely I will finish this project by Friday.

Today I found a great tutorial on y*u t*be by Cat Bordhi for doing one round object on two circulars. It helped a lot so maybe I can try that and then try two objects and it will work. Another day, not today though.

The other I also cast on for an Odessa hat, also for TGF in a beautiful wool & silk yarn by Elsbeth Lavold. Well I casted on and decided it was too small so I ripped back and cast on with one additional repeat as my gauge is different because I am using very different yarn.

I think my knitting dry spell is ending. Yeah!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First time in awhile

Since I last saw this, snow on my car. Yesterday morning was a quiet time in the house, TGF was reading the paper, the animals were calm, and there was a light flurry outside. Sipping on coffee I watched the tiny flakes falling and just had to go out in the freezing temperature, not even bothering to put shoes on and snapped a shot before it all disappeared.



Later the snow was gone from the cars and the rooftops. Wyatt and I took a great walk around the neighborhood. Speaking of the puppyman, I have to share this photo of him. He has been loving driving in the car and taking in all the smells. See for yourselves.




There are still leaves on a lot of trees but many more on th
e ground, with colours strong and faded. The crunch of leaves under my feet delight me everyday, like a cacophony of cracking, shushing, and softly folding under pressure.




Friday, November 23, 2007

Gates of South Park

A recent commenter (Kate) asked if American houses don't have front fences. The comment got me thinking about the various places I have lived, in particular about where I live now. In South Park there is a great variation of the presence or absence of fences, and where their are fences the style can be very different. So I present some photos of fences for your viewing pleasure. Oh hush, a grrl can dream.


There are a lot of different example of wrought iron fences in this neighborhood which I just love. The gates can look very different as well.



There are examples of the traditional white picket fence as well.








A mix of concrete and iron hints to a gothic past for some of the homes.







This one reminds me of a professor I had who always said "the devil is in the details".

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite "holiday" for me growing up. When I was quite young Fritzi and Teddy hosted it at their house on Long Island (I cannot for the life of me remember the town, maybe Kings Point?) and it was quite a huge, decadent affair. I am certain Fritzi did not cook a single dish as she had a live in maid and a living room large enough for two grand pianos. All the children got a present and people carried trays of hors oeuvres like shrimp through the rooms. Did I mention most of my family did not keep kosher?

There are some missing years between the hazy days of luxury and the abundant spread in Montclair NJ when Judy and David took over the hosting responsibility. The missing years are annoying but a fact of my life. Many years later I realized that the first year there was the year my siblings were born which is cool because I have carried an image from that day for decades. Sitting quietly on a chair, wearing a light blue denim shirt with a cloth gracefully draped from her shoulder Fran sat nursing one of them. I suppose as the day ran on each of them had a turn in that chair. They had been born three and a half weeks before, still tiny and from what I remember mostly silent. I loved that house; it was a huge Victorian farmhouse style with many rooms, two staircases (maybe that's where my obsession came from) and a carousel horse on the front porch. They have moved twice since that place and have the most amazing converted grange hall in Hebron CT that I would love for TGF to see. I think she would fall in love with the place. Also it would be a kick to have her and Judy meet.

Over the years the attendance waxed and waned, finally waning a lot. There were always "non-family" present at this celebration (and for our family sedars), a practice that imprinted deeply and passionately on my consciousness. Family, friends, and celebrations are things to be intertwined.
There are no such boundaries if it means someone is alone. Someone who has no home base for christmas, chanukah, july 4th, whatever - you open your home to them.

My "family" thanksgiving passed away, doesn't exist, it ended about two years ago. People have died, moved, drifted, reformulated with the addition of new generations. Moving to the west coast meant I hardly returned east. I think I managed it once in the six years I lived there. It was small and though I noticed it I think I avoided acknowledging what this really meant for the future. Judy kept a notebook, jotting down who attended and what was served for all of the 28 or so years she hosted our gatherings. This document is probably very bare bones but I treasure the thought of it because there is so little written anywhere about my family. Many people who knew the stories have died, the rest of us have not taken pen to paper. We do not see each other often enough to have an oral tradition of retelling tales of journeys made, alliances built and feuds born.

The last two years in the Bay Area we had started a rough tradition of getting together with some of our "family of choice" out there. As today came closer it was hard to think about the people I wouldn't be spending the day with, like Sue & Sarah, Liz & Andrea and all the kids in their families. The amazing thing I realized was that I had begun to formulate my own "family" traditions with TGF and though I had moved away from another "family", I take great strength in realizing my ability to create celebrations and rituals.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Making up for the other day

So remember Monday, when I couldn't drag myself out for baking soda? Today, totally different. Cleaned up the kitchen, took a shower, and dealt with laundry first thing out.

Gemma had a recheck appointment at the vet today and from there I went in search of some needles I need to work on the arms for TGF's sweater. After that I popped in on my nephew Cody for a bit. He asked me to play a computer game with
him. It was called Tanks, or something like that. Ah found it. Of course I totally sucked and he whooped me in like 3 moves the first time. The second we actually battled a bit. When I told TGF that I played essentially a war game her response was, "how the mighty have fallen". What can I say.

Thanks to something the Code-Man said I remembered to run to Dorothy Lane Market to pick up stuffing that TGF wants for tomorrow. This place is incredible, very much like a Whole Paycheck place but this one, which is quite close to us, is open 24 hours a day. 24! Wow.

Upon arriving home I finally ate something because I hadn't yet. Then I got cooking. Seriously cooking. First I present the much delayed banana bread.

Next began the apple
crisp. Now I wasn't asked to make a dessert for tomorrow but how can I possibly attend my first thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws and not make something. TGF is making her version of 7-Layer Salad which is Midwest Heart Attack Salad with it's bacon and Miracle Wh*p. My apple crisp was one of the first things I ever made TGF and she loved it proclaiming it almost as good as sex. If you know TGF there is little that can come close to having the same ranking as sex. Yes it's that good.

Finally I tackled the roast chicken leftovers from the other night. I had some random ideas when quite by chance I clicked on a site that got posted to a li
st I'm on for a macaroni and cheese recipe. From there I wondered onto the rest of the blog and found this really simple homestyle chicken and biscuit recipe where I could use the chicken, some frozen veggies, a condensed soup (something that before TGF never lived in my pantry), and a package of those biscuits in a can (again never bought those before her). All things I already had, not thought needed. It was easily breezy and TGF had two helpings.

A very successful evening in the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Better Now, Thanks for Asking

It is not unusual for one of my black moods to just disappear. Sometimes I am just grateful, sometimes it confuses me. Other times it scares the bejesus out of me because I feel so powerless, like there is this amazing lack of control. like my mind is outside of my range. Maybe it wouldn't scare me so much if mental illness didn't run rampant through my family. The ghost of bipolar illness sometimes haunts me after a day like yesterday.

My mother was diagnosed with bipolar illness several years ago, following decades of struggle, years of the wrong medication. It has made me more vigilant, more worried when I have a crash. Of course I can give you a litany of very real things that "caused" yesterday's black cloud and some of them are very much about circumstance and not a sign of my mind leaping and falling at whim of the chemicals that race around there with no ability to balance.

As yesterday evening ran on I was able to knit on TGF's sweater (my NaKniSweMo) and my mood lightened a bit. Today I was able to go shopping, attempt to take Wyatt to the Bark Park (don't ask, he was Mr CrankyPants so it was short visit). Later I went to Therapy Cafe for the knit group meet up that happens there. Dainty Kitty was there and it was really good to see her. Greeneye was super friendly and had some great felted bags she had made. And, and, and I met someone from the neighborhood. She lives practically around the corner from me and I love her avatar. Squeezleknits inspired me to consider yet another popular pattern.

As of tonight I am just about 1.5 rows from binding off some stitches for armholes and needing to purchase needles to cast on for sleeves. Finishing by the 30th isn't a guaranteed thing at all but I am happy to be making progress. I am officially thanking NaKniSweMo for kicking my butt into gear to make an adult sized sweater for the first time.

So, yes, I'm better today Jer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Black Monday

You know those days when everything seems like too much. When lifting yourself off the couch to go pee is about all you can manage? When you keep eating cookies even though you are so full you're feeling sick? When nothing in particular is running through your head and you're not watching a sappy Lifetime movie but you are crying anyway? Yeah, that's the day I had today.

I was going to bake banana bread but going four blocks away for baking soda was too much to contemplate. Leftover roast chicken is still sitting in the fridge rather than turned into some fantabulous dinner. Knitting should have happened but didn't. The surprise project didn't get worked on. Nothing got done. I mean absolutely nothing.

Shortly before TGF was to leave work I texted her to say it was a bad day and I could not be here when she got home. She called, was terribly sweet and said she wanted to see me, that it was okay that I didn't do anything, that I didn't have to cheer up.

Reason #897 why I love her.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tears of Joi(a)

Some of my more attentive readers, or those with great memories (which means like one person will remember this) will recall that the night before we took off from California one of our cats ran away.

Joia Maria, often called Mama Joi, was one of first fosters. She was the firs
t to just sort of stay on and never leave. She came with two nursing kittens (one was Gemma our manx kitty) but we could not be sure either were her offspring as Joia was being used as a milking station at the shelter she was rescued from by Milo. She let Gemma nurse on her for a very long time. Whenever I mentioned anything about this, TGF would say, "But I thought you were in favor of extended breastfeeding", while she smirked. What.ever.

Joia was eventually spotted and later caught by the new tenant at casa de Cedar. She was picked up by a friend who hosted until we could figure out what to do next. Both TGF and I were extremely hesitant about flying her in cargo (not to mentioned all the rigmarole involved and costs). I emailed a number of people and organizations, contacted airlines to price things out. Also the balance in our house has really changed. Grace has continued to sleep on our bed, even if others on there, which is amazing. Sure she still strikes out at the others but this is a huge improvement.

Then out of the blue Alex, our patron saint of moving, said she wanted to give it a shot to take Miss Joia into her home. I have been getting emails about Joia's adjustment to her new home and the updates have been so positive. Seriously I start to cry when I think of Joia being so happy. It sounds like part of Joia's wel, joy, is being the only cat and lots of attention. I swear my heart swells with happiness every time I read a message about her.

I miss her but it sounds like such a good home that I feel I can let go a bit a more, relax and know she is safe.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dang I missed autumn - a photo essay

I wish I had taken photos since I've been here because the colours are mostly fading, or hard to capture. Or maybe the delight I feel when I see all the hues of greens, yellows, and red is hard to convey.

Today while out and about with Jeriann I wished f
or my camera a few times but wondered if I could have framed the feeling.



I have always like to watch the transformation of garden spots as the chill starts to permeate the air and shift the colours and textures.



When I can I like to think about how a plant changes through the seasons. These hostas are probably a variation of standard blue hostas but I think that practically glow in mid-autumn in a way that is more beautiful than in summer.



I love how this neighborhood has what they call pocket parks. Here is a shot of the one at the corner of James and Adams. The mounds on the right are lavender, the blooms are mum.


The sky is different out here and further east in the autumn, there is something crisp, sometimes painfully brilliant about the colour. Trees that offer shade in summer become a produce store for the critters.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A tour of the neighborhood , part I (more photos!)

Since I have found my camera cable (finally!), and I finally remembered to take my camera while I walked Wyatt y'all will get a glimpse of where we are. Wyatt and I walked for at least an half hour today wondering this way and that. Found some houses I hadn't seen before - this neighborhood is so interesting architecturally speaking.

Here is an example of the signs we saw everywhere as we drove towards the Oak Street house that first Saturday on the 29th of September.


These signs intrigued us and led us to believe (rightfully so) that this was good community that was working hard.

This is a shot of the house that brought us to the neighborhood. It is also the place we put a bid on to no avail. Located on Oak Street, there are a lot of houses that are being saved by Team South Park.


Here is the beautiful home that had TGF, Jer and I oogling, which lead to meeting Maureen, which led us to Holly, who led our to our landlady KM. When I went by it today the "for sale" sign was gone so perhaps it's been sold to some lucky person. It is known as the Balcony House.


Here is a shot of part of the Greenway that I love for it's curvy paths, it's beautiful crunch of leaves, and the space of nature half a block away.


The other thing that enchants me are the alleys that allow one to cut through and sneak all sorts of ways around the neighborhood. Yes cars can drive through them, garages are usually located on the alley behind the house. This is the one next to our place and where I take amusing short evening walks with Wyatt and Atticus cautioning Wyatt not to hunt "easter eggs" and beckoning Atty to catch up. Our place is just to the right of this shot.


Finally here is a shot of our place. We live on the left hand side. The old house was easy to find a nickname for (casa de Cedar) but I have been stuck so far with this one so if something strikes you let me know.

More shots later, maybe tomorrow, or not. {grin}

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Teal Secret (photo heavy)

Waaaay back when I posted this shot of jumbled of yarn.
It was a surprise project for someone who sometimes reads this blog, hence the secrecy.


I had decided forever ago to
make a shawl/wrap for R. Scanning dozens, maybe even a hundred, patterns I knew immediately when I found the Storm Water Shawl motif I knew it was the one.

Next started the hunt for the right yarn. I knew exactly the sort of colour I wanted - something that looked like the water, where we walked our dogs. Finally I thought I had found the yarn, then I had the funds so I purchased it last December. When it arrived it was nothing like the photo, which happens what looking at hand dyed yarn. I was beside myself but through the lovely synchronicity of the planet someone on my knit list mentioned this independent dyer, Deb of Fearless Fibers. Hitting the right keys I found her etsy shop and laid my eyes on the perfect yarn. I was able to return the other yarn in the meanwhile which was a great bonus as I couldn't think of anything to do with it - totally the wrong colours.

This project was a lovely piece to work on, it was the first thing I have made that I love so much I wanted to keep - a sure bet that it was perfect. Unfortunately the news of impending move to Ohio froze me in many ways and one was that I barely knit. However I was determined to finish so that I could gift this piece before leaving the area. It wasn't a race to the finish exactly but it certainly lit a fire under me to have a deadline.


It was with this piece that I also got a serious taste of the magic of blocking. The piece was lovely unblocked but afterwards it had this fabulous drape (which I did not photograph dammit!). My guessimate is that I used about 875 yards of fingering weight yarn. It is probably the largest project, yardage wise, thus far. After blocking it bloomed into about 19" wide by 63" long, which is just about on the money for those who suggest that a shawl be a long as the person is tall.


In many ways this is my favorite project so far because the pattern, the yarn and the person all matched my vision perfectly. The yarn was a continual visual and tactile delight. The pattern easy to memorize but still formed an interesting treat to watch.




Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Knitting, because I haven't mentioned it in awhile

As my button on the right side my page says, because I'm insane I joined up for NaBloPoMo again this year. I am finding some support over at the forum on Raverly

Because I am not completely certifiable I have not officially, signed up for NaKniSweMo, however I am attempting this as well. What is it you might ask. Go ahead ask. Oh, you don't know? Well it's knit a sweater that has 50,000 (or there abouts) stitches or thereabouts in a month. Also in November. What is it about that month? Why in November, a month before most people are gearing up for the holiday hell season when they are trying to get a zillion and one other things done in preparation for the descending of relatives, hours in the kitchen and the mall, and screaming children? I am working on a sweater from Drops Design website for TGF. The yarn is cheap but incredibly soft acrylic in a beautiful light heather gray. It's the first time I am making an adult sized sweater and the first time I am doing a bottom up pattern.

Next up is another project for TGF (isn't she lucky!) out of some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. The colour is a beautiful deep orange. She picked the hat pattern, Odessa (no beads) and I will make a pair of Dashing to match. I believe the two skeins I have will be enough. I am thinking of making myself an Odessa out of the deep red Berroco Softwist I have lying around. Maybe even with beads.

Also in the line up is Kiri for someone I can't name (surprise and all that) out of some fun coloured yarn. In theory I have a fair amount of yarn for socks and should think about trying that two socks on two circs method. Or not.

I have started, just barely to catalogue my stash on Ravelry which really is fun, but would be more fun if I could find the cable for the camera so I could add photos. Also because of Ravelry I decided to clean up my bookmarks of knitting patterns. Since web things can be ephemeral some of them were dead links, the ones that were pdfs I have saved on my computer in a folder. In a fit of bravery I got rid of ones that were clearly not my taste and too dull to think about knitting because I am no longer a rank beginner at this and I need challenges at least some of the time.

I have had a headache for most of the day so I think that's the extent of this post. I mean really people, I went to the laundry mat (blankets), the dry cleaners, opened a new bank account, and purchased a new coffee maker because ours leaks 1/4 or more of the coffee out the back or something. I think I did plenty today, don't you?

Oh the couch arrived today! It is so wonderful to have things to seat on in the living room. What a treat.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Third time's the charm

A few weeks ago we went furniture shopping with Jer and Cody because we frankly have no living room furniture. Our seating consists of two heirloom rocking chairs, one with a foot stool (TGF's grammy and mamaw {sp?} [great-grandmother] family pieces) and this really funky 50's chair thing that is in desperate need of new springs and fabric that doesn't scratch your skin.

Between cost, too deep seats since I'm so short, not cushy enough for TGF's taste, it was not a promising event. In add
ition she has a huge fondness for Lazyb*y sofas. You know the kind, where the two seats on the end recline? For my taste they are too stuffed looking, the profiles look like airplane seats - offends my aesthetic taste.

About a week later we went just the two of us and found only one thing that we agreed on at all but it was pricey and I wondered if it would fit well in the space. It was one of those L-shaped pieces with a chaise extension which meant TGF's need to prop her feet up would be met.

A week we tried again, this time going to a different showroom of a local chain. After wondering around a lot, I kept trying to like this one lazyboy-type couches. I tried so hard. Finally I e
xplained that to me such couches were on the same level as appliqué sweatshirts (told you there was nothing to worry about jbeeky) and minivans. These things are NOT me. No way, no how. She laughed but understood.


We took another spin around and found a couch we both liked. We stared at the couch, sat in the couch, stared at each other. The matching chair was not comfortable for TGF. (The photo is the same couch, different colour)




She suggested we look at reclining chairs, clearly hoping to win on that score. Scanning the three or four rows of reclining chairs I found one that had similar lines to the chair (very classic, late 40's-early 50's kind of look). She liked it, said it hit just the right spot in her back. Wow. This image is not the exact chair, but close.

Next step was to check on colours. No go on the any changes, a bit of a disappointment because they were not our first choice, very light yellow-beige sort of colour but really not bad. Well except for the fact that our dog has long black hair and three of our four cats are gray. Luckily the two colours match quite well, they are practically identical. Also with pillow and throws colour can easily be added I figure. The final step was financing. There was the clang of boom in the distance. No go, hadn't lived here long enough, hadn't been at job long enough. Bummer. But the delight that we found furniture we agreed on could not erase the glow we both had. I suggested that this was so miraculous that perhaps we should buy a lottery ticket.

Fast forward another week and TGF got a co-applicant so tomorrow the couch arrives!
The chair is back ordered but who cares. No more fighting over the one relatively comfortable seat in the house! I get to rearrange furniture tomorrow, one of my favorite things to do. No, seriously it is. My mother has said since I was a teenager that I should never live with a blind person because of my predilection for changing room layouts on a whim and without warning.

I have great hopes of this increasing my motivation to whip through this place getting it in shape.