Thursday, August 31, 2006

1954 Girl of the Year


Today my mother would have been 70 years old. I prefer to think of her on her birthday, rather than remember the day she left us.

Margie Ann Denham Keene was funny, caring, loving, and strong. I strive to be like her everyday in my dealings with the kidlets. I don't know how she did it. Growing up my mother had to be mother and very often for long stretches the father. My father's job often took him on the road to exotic places for months at a time. While he was gone, mom had to not only do the "mom" jobs, she also had to take care of the "dad" duties - minor repairs around the house, car repair, heavy lifting - you know, the jobs that are usually reserved for dads when they get home in the evenings.

In addition to taking care of the kids, house, and the occassional plugged toilet, she was also very active in PTA and church, which left very little time for Marge. I suppose that's why she liked to crochet and sew. Even though she was often making something for me, it was her time to sit, relax, and just be. I still have the hat she crocheted for me to match the poncho(back when ponchos were popular the first time around) that I sort of designed. I requested a purple and white granny square poncho with fringe. She threw in the hat as a surprise. I could kick myself for getting rid of the poncho several years ago when my daughter was still a baby. At the time I thought "these things will never come back in style". Thankfully, I kept the hat.

She was a very strong woman of character. When I was about 8 months pregnant with my first child, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn't say a word to anyone except my father. She didn't want to steal my thunder at the impending birth of my first(and her only daughter's) baby.

Evan was born at 8:30 in the morning at the same hospital on the same morning that mom had her chemo cathater inserted. I didn't know it at the time. She came into my room to see me before Evan was born. I saw a bruise on her chest, and asked her if she had been in a bar fight. She just laughed and blew it off.

Mom never told any of us how poorly her chemo treatment was going. She didn't want any negative vibes or anyone's pity. She had a type of breast cancer that I had never heard of before. It was inflammatory breast cancer. It looks as though you have a bad sunburn is how her oncologist described it. It claims 80% of it's victims. But we didn't know any of this until her last days.

Through it all, Mom kept up her sense of humor even until the end. She was the perfect straight man to my husband's one liners. They had a running joke that she never paid him the dowry he had coming to him when we got married. Her last words to John were priceless, "You're still not getting my money!"

Here's to you, Mom.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Samurai Cat, er, Hat


One down, three to go.

Honestly, the cat(Wally) never does what you want him to. It was pure serendipity that he sat there while I took the picture. I didn't even try to get him there next to the hat, it was all his idea.

Now that one hat is done, the world(or at least the next 2 hours until the bus arrives to shatter the calm) is full of possibilities. Do I immediately start in on hat number 2? Do I work on the girl's(the daughter) sweater that has been at a standstill since last October? (Subconsciously, I think it's been languishing in the tote bag, because I'm a-bored with it, b-making it a bit bigger because I thought it was too small, but actually it's a bit too big so I'll have to frog it, c-not crazy about the yarn(Lion Brand Homespun - needed something I could throw in the machine - you know kids).) - I'm making up the punctuation as I go along-

Or do I work on the husbands XXL Malabrigo sweater that's been on hold since the weather got hot and who the heck wants an XXL wool sweater sitting in your lap while you work on the sleeve? Should I sew up the seams on the baby kimono for the baby that's not due until February(yeck, seaming)?

What's most tempting me is to start a new project. Something for me. The last thing I knit for myself was a pair of socks in the spring of 05. The entrelac backpack I made in December of 06 doesn't count, the daughter has taken that over.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Do you hear that? Yeah, neither do I. The Kidlets are in school.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hello, my name is Karen

...and I'm an eBayaholic. I'll admit it. I buy and sell. I have an "items I'm watching" list with over 50 items on occasion. It's usually always knitting related, yarn, yarn swifts, addi turbos, a wpi tool. Although I am on the lookout for a window scarf for the dining room.

I'm always looking for a bargain. I've scored 10 skeins of Rowan Rowanspun 4 ply for $20 which included shipping from England. I'm hoping to score some more and eventually try my hand at a Fair Isle sweater. (Who are these people spending well over $100 for the Alice Starmore Fair Isle book?)
I also got some Koigu for a good price. I thought about a pair of socks, but that would leave me with one skein left over. I hate having yarn left over, because it seems that leftovers never seem to get used up. They just take up space in the stash, valuable space that could be used for well, more yarn.
Having said that, I've recently bagged some Shetland cobweb weight yarn on eBay(five 1/2 skeins) and two balls of plain old sock yarn. I've never knit lace before and have been wanting to give it a try. I'm not going to start with the cobweb weight, I've got some very old fuzzy Pingouin in the stash with which I'm going to attempt the first shawl before I move on to the cobweb weight. I do, however, have a pattern picked out for the cobweb. The problem is that I'll have leftovers. About 1/2 oz. by my calculations. So what in the dang world do you do with 1/2 oz. of cobweb weight Shetland? Luckily, it is cobweb, so less area will be used up in the stash containment system.

It's not really a "system" so much as it's those big zippered bags that slipcovers, drapes, and comforters come in that I've somehow ended up with. Odd since it's been about 5 years since I've bought any of those items.

This is the last day of summer for the kidlets!!! This is the (school)year that I will finally get the trim in the dining room painted, rehang the curtains(maybe with the new scarf I find on eBay), get the house sparkling clean and organized so it only takes a half a day to run through the house with the duster, vacuum, and mop. I will also throw this in the compost pile. I should have done it May when I bought them and saved them the indignity of dying on the front porch for the whole neighborhood to see.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mush for Brains

The past several days, I've been feeling all sorts of emotions - loneliness(pretty ironic in a house with 5 other people), jealously, despair, silent anger, boredom. O.K. , I've mainly been feeling emotions that most people would rather not feel.

So, I decided that rather than tussle with Puff the Freakin' Fussy Beaded Dragon again, I needed something totally mindless so I could go to my "Zen" place, but not so mindless that I actually did lose my mind. I started this

from this book.

I've obviously made a few changes from the way it's written. The first change was to make it a bit longer and wider. It's for my brother's and sister-in-law's new baby due in February. Prudence would tell me that if I'm going to get a jump start on something it should be gifts for that big holiday in December. You know the one I'm talking about, the one that's only 3 months away! Shut up, already, Prudence.

Anywho, my brother and his wife tend to produce rather large babies so I decided not to make the "newborn" size. I decided this after I decided on the green cheap cotton yarn that I only had two balls of, thus the white stripes to take up the slack. I hope it works, otherwise I'll be doing a bit of ripping to add more stripes, because I'm done with one side(I finished a few minutes after taking the picture), and I've started on the other front side.

I have some really cute green and white ribbon that matches the colors of the yarn perfectly, but I'm going to hold of until they know the sex of the baby(this will be my brother's 5th child, and he's done being surprised) before I decide on the type of fastener to use. They show ribbons as the fastener in the book, but I think that might be a bit girly for a baby boy. If it's boy, I'm going to go on a button hunt.

I've also added eyelets at the neckline on the back to match the eyelets along the edges of the front.

2 more days until the kidlets are back in school, and I'll be more of a frame of mind by then to pick up Puff.

Brainstorm! This can be a Christmas present for the unborn child! I'll knit another for when the child is actually born. Take that, Prudence!

Friday, August 11, 2006

We Can Rebuild Him

Just because we have the knowledge and the technology, it doesn't necessarily mean that using it is a good thing.
Dear Monstrously Large Local Telephone Company,

I sent an email on 8/9 concerning my ability to log in to my
account in order to pay my bill, and have not yet received an
answer other than a computer generated message stating that my
message had been received. Considering that your company is in
the *communication business*, I have never dealt with another
company that is so hard to *communicate* with!

There are easily 30+ customer support numbers, not to mention
using email, for Monstrously Large Telephone Company, and I
have never been able to get through to the correct department
when I have a question after sitting through the automated
menu. I often put off calling, because I know it will be 30
or more minutes of my time wasted trying to get a simple
question answered.

I understand the need to keep costs down by not having a large
payroll, but certainly a little too much technology can be a
bad thing. Just because you have the ability to use and
upgrade the technology(automated phone menu, online site),
doesn't mean you have to. A little personal contact with your
customers, and making it *easy* for them to *communicate* with
you goes a long way toward keeping your customers happy.

So, my payment is late, because I opted for the paperless bill
and online payments, and I am unable to log on to make a payment.
Sure, I could do it the old fashioned way, but that would
involve looking up the number, calling, getting the automated
menu, wading through the menu just to find out how much I
owe(we have two phone lines, so I assume it would take that
much longer), writing out the check, finding an envelope
(I no longer get the pre-printed envelope since I'm paperless),
addressing the envelope, finding a stamp(if I have one here,
otherwise you'll have to wait until my next trip out to buy stamps),
and finally putting it in the mail. Then you have to wait
several days for it to be delivered, when all of this could
have been eliminated had someone(a real live person)
responded to the email I sent two days ago! Have I wasted
enough of your time, yet? Good, now we're even!


P.S. While typing this I've been on hold for 10 minutes
waiting to get transferredto the *correct* department. Check
your phone logs if you don't believe me, I know you have
the technology.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

He tasks me

This is my white whale.


After sewing on 30+ beads per side and sewing on the belly of the beast, I began to crochet the scales along the spine thus attaching the sides to each other and simultaneously stuff the beast, when I heard the soft ping of beads hitting the floor. Son of a beast!!!

My suggestion to the husband that he learn how to sew on beads fell on deaf ears. It is after all a silly hat for him and his Iaido sword buds. Yeah, he requested that I make more than one hat.

On the school count down - 16 more days until it starts! Then I can tackle the other silly hats in peace.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Do you see it?

It's over there in the sidebar. I know it's not very exciting for you, but for someone that is definately right brained, i.e. technically stupid, this is a major accomplishment.

I've managed to add some links in the sidebar all while this
was going on. That's four sets of kidlet legs(the fourth one is hidden behind the girl)playing the PS2 very loudly, right next to my desk.

The Tylenol is not working. 21 days until school starts.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Maybe you should cram it up your ...

I'm ready to sit down in my usual chair near the Husband and put Puff the Fiddly Dragon together, so I begin to gather my equipment. Sides of dragon - check! Crochet needle(ugh) for the dragon spine - check! Yarn to crochet with - check! Cool folding scissors that I purloined from Mom that I know I left right here on the table next to my usual chair - bloody hell!!!
God knows I love my children, but I think we've been spending too much time together lately. They have this horrible habit of picking up things of mine, fiddling with them, and putting them down where ever and when ever the spirit moves them. Naturally, I went on the "Leave my stuff alone - I don't mess with your stuff except to pick it up off the floor and put it where it belongs" rampage, when the Husband calmly asks me, "Did you cram them up your arse?"(I tend to cuss in CanaBritspeak - I think it sounds nicer.)

"No, I didn....WHAT?"

Evidently, when he and his sister were children and my always blunt mother-in-law couldn't find something that they had fiddled with, she would shout, "Maybe I should have crammed it up my arse, that way you couldn't mess with it and I'd know where it is!"

I found the scissors buried in Mt. Laundray-to-be-folded on the sofa, and school starts in 23 more days.