Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good Only Goes So Far

And then you have to 'fess up.

I hit another pole. Only this time I backed into it. Not as bad as the last time when I took out the whole front end of the passenger side, but bad enough to have the rear bumper waving at me all the way to the pool and back. And mildly embarrassing that the nice man at the repair shop asked Jon "Are we working on the same white Lexus?" Jon: "New car, same wife." Thankfully, nobody was injured, unless pride counts. It was a very quiet ride to the pool that day - even with four girls in the car.

Lesson: the newspaper mail tube of the VP of Circulation for the local newspaper is ALWAYS going to have his post planted in the ground in solid lead. DO NOT hit it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Now with More Goodness!

Brenda, of the Tuesday Morning Knitting Group, is just that kind of good person. The kind that does the good stuff quietly and never tells anyone that she's doing it , even when she's doing it right in front of you. You could almost not like her for that kind of good doing-ness, but then, it's Brenda. And she's just about the nicest person on the planet and you can't fault a person for being nice AND good AND not a bragger person - I mean - can you?

So, sometime a while ago - no one knows exactly when - Brenda started sneaking away to a memory care facility every other Wednesday. Her mission, to spend some time with the residents and to knit and crochet with them. The goal, to simply make squares. And they did.

OK - some looked like the upper part of the state of Minnesota . . .

. . . or hour glasses. But week by week, the squares grew (or shrank if they became unwieldy and Brenda had to rip them into submission). And our girl sat patiently with these ladies and listened, and learned; taught and was taught; laughed and probably cried (Brenda never cries so I'm just guessing here).

And for the past two weeks at the regular meeting of the TMKG, she's just been sitting over in her designated spot with an enormous crochet hook and big fat yarn (SO not Brenda - let me just say!) and playing with these weird squares of different colors and shapes and sizes. Finally, some asked: "What the hell are you doing over there?" And non-braggy, wonderful person, good doing Brenda shared the story with us. OK - I do cry and I did! She's crocheting all the squares together for a lap blanket to be used in the TV room at the memory care facility. See me - I'd keep it. After all - who would know?

Brenda - you already know that I love you like a sister . . . (OK - you know how I feel about my sisters, so I love you more than like a sister) . . . but this thing you do, it's just so . . . so . . . Brenda!

Thanks for being such a great inspiration.

Love ya,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Done Some Good

Yesterday, Kathryn and I joined about 40 other friends from school for our second annual summer service project at Feed My Starving Children. In case you decide not to click over there, I'll tell you that this organization does just what it says, all through volunteers, it prepares, packages and ships nutritionally healthy meals to children throughout the world.
After a brief overview you arrive at your workstation and quickly decide who will do which tasks. There are scoopers, and weighers and sealers and packers, and plastic bag holders (I suck at that job!) Our team decided to rotate jobs every once in a while to keep things fresh! Only grown-ups can work the sealer. I was awesome at that job!

Once your bag is on the funnel, in goes: one scoop of vegetarian chicken flavoring and one scoop of dehydrated vegetables. We were able to recognize broccoli and something red in the vegetables.

After that comes a coffee cup scoop of soy nuggets and a coffee cup scoop of rice. I also rocked in the soy and rice scooping. The younger girls had a rough time with the handles on the cups and their knuckles.

From there, the package gets weighed (380 - 400 grams). When 36 packets are completed, they go into a box . . . in a very.specific.order. Kathryn did that job for the longest period of time as she was the only one who could be counted on to remember the "very.specific.order".

We occupied 14 of 16 available the packaging stations for 1 1/2 hours.

If you were an overflow person, you got assigned to putting labels on the bags. Not as much fun, but you get to sit.

Each package of food makes 6 meals. Our pod packed 14 boxes. That's 504 packages of food, or 3024 meals. In total, our group packed 61 boxes for a total of 13,176 meals. This will feed 36 children for 1 year. The cost to FMSC of the ingredients for this amount of food is $2240.

I love this event for so many reasons but primarily because it gives the children a chance to "do" something; to get their hands dirty (so to speak). They know that each package they prepare, seal and pack will be going somewhere so far away, to someone who desperately needs it. Even the really young kids can grasp this concept. Sometime when the boxes are packed on the pallet, there is an opportunity to write messages or draw pictures on the outside of the boxes. The little ones always write the best messages. We didn't get a chance to do that this time because the boxes were being readied for shipment at that moment. We we did get to bless the boxes before their long journey. I heard one little one say what must be her family's dinnertime blessing, of "Grace" over the boxes. And me without my Kleenex.

Monday, July 27, 2009


At her last check up, Kathryn was reminded of the need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Note that I put this responsibility on her, not on - - say, her parents. No matter what fruits I buy, I eat some, but the rest usually sits around until it's time to toss them. Except for bananas. So yesterday morning I decided to try a new way to entice her with my own version of a fruit smoothie.

Fresh strawberries, raspberries, orange juice and mint blended with ice (no yogurt here!). If it was dessert, I might be inclined to throw in some ice cream.

Truth be told, she might have preferred the yogurt and didn't like the mint, but she persevered and drank it all. Later, after she left for an afternoon at the racetrack with her Nanee and Poppa (an annual occurrence; alas, she lost $6.00) I came upon a great idea on how to use up the left over smoothie.
I added more raspberries, more strawberries, some fresh frozen blueberries, more OJ, ginger ale, more mint. I had a vague notion of adding the Ruby Red Vodka to the concoction; but cooler heads prevailed. I just didn't want to ruin all the goodness - of the vodka.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sad, not Blue

For more than 14 years I have lived in a blue house. I've always wanted to live in a blue house. I love my blue house. Love, love, love my blue house. It looks perfect in every weather condition. On sunny days, it looks happy; on cloudy days, it seems to brighten things up; the blue just shines against a snowy backdrop in winter; in the fall, this color blue looks gorgeous with all the fall colors. I have always given directions to our house based on the color "Follow that all the way to the end; it's the blue house at the bottom of the hill."
I guess it's time for a change. The old girl needs paint and some one's we've decided to go more neutral. Sometime between now and the time she'll need to be painted again, we hope to sell her and build again. The reality is, neutral will help her sell better. Conceptually, I understand this. I also understand that painting her again in this time frame would be a waste of money.But, I'm a blue girl. Actually, I'm anything but a neutral girl. I'm going to have a hard time telling people "Follow that all the way to the end; it's the house that looks like all the other houses in the those subdivisions that all look alike which is so not what we wanted when we built this house and painted it blue but now looks like that - or - it's the last one on your right."

On closer inspection - nope - I don't even really like the new trim color either. And the painter wasn't even cute.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Longer than Life

When last looked upon, Larger than Life bag was complete - sort of. The outer, crocheted portion of the bag was complete; the lining was complete. All that remained since June 12, 2007 was to join the two pieces together. Yeah - I'm that lame. The problem was that the lining was just a smidge too small for the bag, or so I thought.

I finally decided that defying the laws of physics was not in my nature, gave up and after two years of having it sit in the studio, turned it over to a goddess. In the hands of my good friend and trusty seamstress Pam, who can make anything work, the two pieces came together (something about "easing"?) Silly me, I was prepared to give up the two darling fabrics I had found and everything.

I love how the flower side of the double-sided lining peeks through the holes in the crochet! She even found a cute, third coordinating fabric for two pockets I hadn't considered!

So no more hanging around - it's time to get this out in the real world to show off!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Babs and I spent some quality time together this weekend. I finished the squares for sections 7 and 8 and then tried a different method for seaming them all together.

I'm quite pleased with it - even in its un-blocked, un-pulled, un-tugged, un-tucked state. It's simple too - hold the pieces wrong sides together, single crochet through both pieces, chain two, single crochet repeat!
Side-by-side comparison of the other seaming method. You decide.

Along with the quality time with Babs, came quality time with someone else. Maybe because it was just freezing cold here all weekend, or maybe it was because she was bored, but wherever Babs and I went, Kathryn went. And wherever I sat, Kathryn sat; not just next to me, but that place that's just short of being back in your womb. Lots of questions, comments, general chatter. Normally this is my time and I was biting my tongue wondering where Jon was and why she wasn't interested in what HE was doing! By yesterday afternoon the closeness got to me. "Would you like to learn?"

I sent her on what I assumed would be a wild goose chase. "Go down to the studio, in one of the plastic drawers and find an "H" crochet hook." Back in 10 seconds! We started with a simple chain. Over and over again. Rip it out and do it again until you get it.

Once the chain was perfected, it was on to single crochet, turning chains, then double crochet and then . . .
I've taught grown-up students who can't get this far in two weeks. It's not like she moved any farther away from me while we worked on this, in fact, she had to move closer at some points. But at least it was on my terms!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Of Books and Hooks

And books for hooks,
(and my favorite pieces of each new book - The Picot Star Table Cloth, and the "idea page")

. . . and hooks on books,

(the KnitPicks double ended crochet hooks - stick with your regular crochet hooks - just saying')

(a Tunisian crochet hook brought to knitting on Tuesday so as to be reassured that it was not a mistake at the factory!)

And my current hooking obsession! Babette has been pulled out of hibernation and is moving along at a rapid pace. Eight of ten sections are complete. As I look back now, I've become a better crocheter in the two years she's been asleep and I see the things I should won't do over. The one thing I do know I'll change, based on Motifs book, is how the squares and sections are joined. There are much prettier, more decorative ways to do this. And that won't take much time. There are only 127 squares. But I'm hooked.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Agony of DeLeg

I am on injured reserve for a while; I have an owie-elbow. Mom and Dad don't know what happened to it and if I did remember, I don't know how to tell them. Tuesday night it hurt so bad I couldn't even walk on it. On Wednesday morning it still hurt really bad so Mom took me to see the vet that I love so much. Dr. Matt pushed and pulled and poked and prodded and tugged and turned. I was so brave; I didn't make a peep. Even when he got to the part that was the most hurtiest. Mom cried. Dr. Matt said I was "stoic". I love the girls at the vet store so when one of them came to get me for the back room I was happy. They gave me a cookie and picked me up really careful and put me on a funny table. They told me it was for pictures. I was thinking of the blog and tried to smile. But then I saw the pictures - you guys would not want to see them! They were scary pictures of my inside guts and stuff. Dr. Matt was happy at the pictures because nothing was broken. He showed them to Mom and they got that worried human face on account of some dark stuff in my elbow. They called it "swelling". The next words I heard really scared me - rest, 7-10 days, no swimming or running, quiet, medications (I do not like to take pills!!).

Today I am not wanting to rest so much because the medicine makes me fell like I am better than I am, but I am not. Mom just caught me waking up from a dog nap and I forgot about my elbow and fell down when I tried to go get some water. Mom is thinking it will be a funny (not ha-ha) couple of days trying to keep me rested and quieted.

Holli - the dog.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Face the Strange Changes

Dear Diary,

I finally made that call to the OB/GYN practice today to schedule the appointment I’ve been putting off for several months. In so doing I’m beginning to accept the fact that Nature has a plan for me over which I have no control. It’s just – I’m not ready. Seriously – not ready!. So I’ll rattle off my concerns – fatigue, can’t remember stuff, emotional blubber house (more than usual), the obvious missed periods, someone else’s boobs have wound up on my chest, extreme crankiness (more than usual), can’t remember stuff. Nice lady doctor will be compassionate and we’ll discuss all of these with care and concern. We’ll come up with a plan. She’ll give me that same stupid booklet again, the one with the gray-haired couple who look as if they should be checking in to Happy Acres Retirement Home, happily walking arm in-arm, that describes all of these things. I’ve purposely never read the booklet before because -THAT LADY IS OLD AND I’M NOT OLD! I have a twelve-year old daughter. I’m a school mom. I’m not old yet. I just cannot get over tying this whole process to “being old”.

When Kathryn begins this whole journey, in weeks, months or years from now, it saddens me just a bit to know that her whole experience of it will be without me along for the ride. How stupid does that sound? It’s just I always imagined us giggling in the bathroom or running back and forth asking: “Hey – do you have a ….?” All the while driving Jon crazy with our “period talk”!

I’ve talked with Jon. I’ve explained what I think is going on and how I feel and why I’m acting the way I am. He is, of course, so terrifically wonderful. He says the right things and does the right things and hugs me and use words like “It must feel strange to blah blah blah.” And every time he does, I secretly yell inside “He deserves somebody much younger and newer and not old and on the downward slide!” Yes, I know this is silly thinking; see above list of symptoms.

The girlfriends are what girlfriends are supposed to be. You can tell them everything; they tell you everything back. Even the things you don’t want to hear. Nothing is off limits. We talk about how everyone’s experience is different from the next but that we all share the common experience. Like childbirth. Books are recommended. Some are specifically NOT recommended. Tears are shared as readily as laughter. With them, I suddenly don’t feel old. I don’t feel like pitching The Red Tent with them, but I feel a bond that I know will sustain me.

Still, NOT READY! When I turned 50 I told myself, and anyone who would listen to me, that it was the best time of my life. I felt the best I ever had – physically, emotionally, mentally. I was at peace with myself and the world around me. That was only 18 months ago. Now this? I feel like crap? I don’t know the person living in this body? Or, more likely, I don’t know the body this person currently inhabits? Yes, I am fully aware that I am wallowing, wallowing in self-pity. But damn – it took me 50 YEARS to get to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and only 5 months to tumble back down to the bottom of the triangle! Couldn't the hierarchy have been an inverted triangle? Just a little more space at the top would have been really nice.

So Diary, I made the call. I accept what’s going on. I know that all of this will pass. I’m assuming that I’ll be back to my somewhat same-but-different self at some point. I will try to be graceful and at peace with all of this. After I press the “PUBLISH POST” button. But until then, I just really hate this.


Monday, July 06, 2009


Kathryn has become a fan of a few blogs lately; notably, Chris and Bakerella, cats and cupcakes - the life of a twelve-year old! So when the demand was issued call came to gather at "The Big House" for a family dinner to celebrate* with baby brother and wife of just one year who are in town, we jumped at dessert for our "dish to pass". Nanee asked for a "pan of brownies". "Pan" of brownies you say - that's just not going to work here anymore.
Although we were allowed to use a package mix, mini-brownie bites were what K wanted. With a raspberry plopped right in to the middle. I had to do some serious maths to recalculate the amount of cooking time required for the mini-ness and the raspberri-ness and it took several attempts before we got the proper done-ness.

Because of the proximity to the holiday, the decorating theme was easy. Although we wanted to make flags, the mini-ness sort of took away the space required.

We compromised.

The nieces / cousins didn't really care so much that there were no flags on the brownie bites.

And all of a sudden my hopes that 48 brownie bites might get me through the family dinner AND the two meetings I have at my house on Monday and Tuesday evening this week - were . . .

. . . gone!!

Just vanished!

Not even one little brownie bite left for this guy who was waiting at the end of my parent's driveway as we pulled out. Guess he knows where to go for leftovers!

*Keep your fingers and toes crossed for baby brother Dennis and his beautiful wife Helen; they are expecting a baby early next year; grandchild number 10 in our family! xoxox

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hmm . . .

Maybe it was his party hat?