My Friend Frank

Frank came to work for the agency 3 or 4 years ago.  I don't recall exactly.  As a new web administrator for the agency, he automatically became a member of our web team and was encouraged to attend SXSWi like many of us.  We got acquainted while waiting for panels and  started hanging out together picking panels and going to lunch with some of our coworkers and friends outside the agency who were also attending the conference. 

Frank is a great programmer.  But he is also an artist.  And a flyfisherman/fly-tyer, and a cattle rancher, and a grandpa, and he likes to read, a lot.  His wife's name is Frankie, (Frank & Frankie) which I think is the cutest thing in the world.  Frank was always a little curious about my knitting habit which I exercized through many a web team meeting.  He was especially curious about my sock-knitting as that was my preferred meeting project.  I tried to explain to him the joys of wearing hand knit socks.  One day I presented him with a pair of his own.  I guessed on the sizing, since it was a surprise, I didn't exactly want to measure his foot, but I think I got pretty darn close.  It seemed like every time I saw him, he had those wool socks on.  Not a little surprising since we are after all in Texas and I think I gave them to him in a warm part of the year, but I was the one who told him wool breathes and that I wore nothing but wool or at least hand knit socks. 

So, Frank kept asking me questions about knitting, how do you do this? or how do you know when to do that and how do you pick a yarn or a needle.  Well, as you may have suspected, Frank was on that slippery slope to becoming a knitter.  I think I've told people that I taught him, but honestly I don't remember teaching him to knit so much as handing him my Stitch N Bitch book, answering his questions and showing him a couple of things and, oh, maybe introducing him to the owner of a yarn shop.  He's made himself quite at home at The Knitting Nest, even if I don't go with him.

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Well, now I'm so proud of him that I want you all to know about him and take notice. He has done a hat, several scarves, for himself and as gifts. He wanted a felted sleeve for his fabulous new Netbook, so he figured his own pattern, and when the first one shrunk too much, he recalculated and knit and felted another one which was perfect!  Go look at the thing!  Then he came down to my office the other morning to show me his new mitts.  He found a pattern on Ravelry and made the pair in just 2 nights of knitting.  Y'all, this man is a Knitter.  And he is fearless.  He is this far away from knitting his own socks.  And besides all that, he's a really nice guy.  

You can find Frank in several places online, check him out at his blog:

Artistic License (and you can get his pattern for an Asus sleeve)

Also on Flickr

and Ravelry

and of course, Twitter.

His daughter Marguerite (Rete) is also a knitblogger and quilter and I met her when the Yarn Harlot came to town. 

Be sure and say hello to him sometime, I'm sure you'll run into him somewhere.

Winter Garden

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We still need rain really bad even though it rained today.  Here in Central Texas we are in a severe drought cycle.  The only things left in the garden right now are kohlrabi and Swiss chard.  Swiss chard will grow here pretty much year round.  The kohlrabi I planted because it is so interesting looking and apparently hardy.
I put it in soups and casseroles.  The Swiss chard I put it in soups and stews too and saute the ribs in butter and add cream and Parmesan and it makes a lovely pink pasta sauce.  Yum. 

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I tried to plant lettuce and spinach seeds before the soil got too cool and before the days got too short. The drought was just too hard to deal with.  I couldn't keep the soil at the right moisture level for germination for those seeds.  This year the looper worms were a real nuisance and took my spaghetti squash plants.  Normally I grow it earlier in the year and don't have any nibblers, but I delayed everything waiting of rain this year. 

Sometime around March, I'll start getting antsy and looking at seed catalogs online, making lists and eyeballing the current dimensions of the garden for further expansion.  I keep meaning to plant a couple of Hansen Bush Cherries, I really should have done that by now, and some asparagas crowns but something always comes up and I lose that train of thought.  Tom shows no interest or sympathy for my garden pursuits, he thinks it's a waste of time with grocery stores full of food just a short distance away.  I do try to visit the local farmers market that opened up nearby – she even carries the local Bastrop Cattle Company organic, grassfed beef. 

For now, I'm happy to see the kohlrabi and chard, but there's not much do in the garden now but dump more leaves in for mulch and wait for longer and warmer days…and rain. 

Late to Eight

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Miss Abby turned 8 on December 15th, unfortunately she was sick that day and for several other days just before they took their winter break.  We had to cancel the party we had scheduled at Justice Just for Girls.  They were very nice about it and assured me we could reschedule but ALL the girls were disappointed, especially the birthday girl. 

After the chaos of the holiday, we decided at the very last minute to try to reschedule the party before school started back up.  Success!  It turned out to be one of the nicest, most unseasonably warm days of the break (81 F) and after a fun time getting made up and Party_girls
playing games and picking out goodies at Justice, they got Amy's Ice Cream and a little play time at the nice playscape at the shopping center.  Abby thought it was the best party she ever had.

We chose Justice Just for Girls for the party because we like their clothes and we wanted to do a smaller party this year.  For the past couple of years we've done the Bowling Party for the whole class and this year we needed a change.
Justice clothes are stylish yet modest and age appropriate.  There is a little sparkle, but no Vegas glitz.  Their prices are very reasonable.  They have lots of cute accessories and of course, Webkinz.  Also as it turns out that even in a down economy, they are expanding to more locations in the coming year.  Apparently it's a business model that works.  The company owns Limited Too, but are replacing all those with Justice stores.  Abby and I have been having the battle over clothes (the one you're supposed to have at about age 14) since she was 4.  Justice is something we can both agree on. Isn't eight adorable?

Easing Back into Normal

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The holiday is almost over.  We put my MIL on a plane home to Vermont today, tomorrow early, my BIL and his family return to Seoul, Korea.  While our thoughts were with my aunt in Dallas, we managed to show them around a bit here at home.  We made it to SeaWorld and the Riverwalk in San Antonio, they took us to a Korean Restaurant in North Austin and then today they took me to a Korean Market in town.  I love Korean food.  I can't get Tom or Abby to eat it, it's mostly too spicy for them, but I got a few things for me; kimchi, noodle soup(hot) and some dumplings that I think they will be able to handle, also some soy bean sprouts and seaweed.  It was good to have some guidance in the market today for future purchases.  The man who owns the store promised to remember me when I come back without any Korean speakers with me. 

Tomorrow we're having Abby's birthday party after we had to cancel it in December because she and some of the other girls were sick on the date we had it scheduled. If we don't do it tomorrow, we'll likely never get around to it once everyone is back to their normal routine. 

My thoughts have frequently been about my aunt since Christmas.  She continues to improve at the hospital in Dallas, but she's awake now and while that is great progress, it also means she is now aware and struggling with her condition and unable to communicate right now beyond responding to yes or no queries.  Besides around 12 broken bones and being strapped to her bed with her jaw wired shut, she is a smoker and I'm sure she's jonesing for a cigarette despite all the other indignities she is suffering, I KNOW my aunt.  This whole ordeal will likely also cost her some weight, as she hasn't had a real meal since Christmas Eve.  Her jaw will be wired shut for about 6 weeks.  I know she misses her CSPAN too, but at least if she can get into a room other than ICU, she'll be able to watch the inauguration because I know she's looking forward to it.  I wish I could do something now, but I'll wait till there is something useful for me to help with as she recovers.  

Monday I return to work and I'm looking forward to some new projects and committees at the office and beyond, some involving social media, which is very exciting.  I'm also looking forward to trying to get some things in my house organized – New Year's always seems to stoke my desire to get a handle on my demons and what to do with all my stuff is one of those demons.  I think I'll start with a new closet organizing system.  There simply must be a way to get it all in there.  Can't spend a lot of money, but I'm handy so I feel confident.

Now to bed.  I'm practicing getting up early again so that Mondy won't be so painful.  Night, night.

Happy New Year!

I have heard that whatever you do on New Year's Day determines how you will spend your whole year.  If that's true, I will continue doing laundry, cleaning house and cooking for family.  Somehow I don't think I was really going to get out of all that even if I'm not superstitious.  I am however an irrepressible optimist and like to think that attitude is what will carry me through this new year.  We all have lots to look forward to despite the economic outlook and the fact that we remain a largely one (solid) income family at this time. 

My aunt who was hospitalized on Christmas Eve is now awake and my family is positively jubilant about it even though she has a long and painful road to recovery.  We are up to it.  Her internal organs are fine, her brain is fine and she is no longer on a ventilator.  She will have several reconstructive surgeries but she should regain the use of her broken limbs.  I want to thank all my blogging friends and Twitter friends who responded with kind encouragement.  I am extremely lucky to count you all as my friends. 

Tom's brother and his family from Korea have been visiting since the 20th and will be returning home in a couple of days.  It's been really fun getting to know the newest member of the family, little Mina, who is only a month younger than my own grandson, Cooper.  They played together well and were a constant source of amusement.  My MIL #2 is here visiting also and she goes back to Vermont tomorrow. 

I've been playing around with a couple of ideas about my blogging for a while and today seems like a good day to make a decision one way or the other.  I have really been enjoying some of my online friends efforts at 365/6 Flickr postings but find that I am not such a good photographer and really dislike photos of myself so I don't think I could bring myself to do it.  I also have been envious of other knitbloggers who committed to writing a blog post every single day for a year.  That might be something I could pull off if I really worked at it.  What I would like to know is, those who have done it…was it difficult and was it rewarding and did you feel like you imporved your writing skills or what other revelations did you experience on this journey?  I may not do it, but I would like some force to compel/propel me to post more frequently because I really do enjoy the interaction.  I admit that I often don't post because I feel so overwhelmed and conflicted and don't want to babble or rant or just indulge in wasting time and cyperspace just to see my words in space.  I also know that I have lost a few regular visitors because I have fallen behind so badly in my blogging activites.  I wonder if I could carve out a bit more time to write and perhaps spend a tad less time on Twitter.  Finding the time seems to be the biggest challenge – Twitter is easy and I really like the immediacy of it.  But, it's not exactly blogging.  So, I will think on it some more.  

About my knitting:  I still knit and really need to organize that area of my life a bit more – still working on that Starsky Jr. for Abby and a couple of other UFO's that continue to haunt me.  And I have tried really hard to resist the urge to start more projects – at least until I can finish one.  Inspiration doesn't seem to be lacking, really, again, it's time that's lacking and I need to address that in some way.  What shall I stop doing so I can do more of what I want, hmmm, that may be the essential question.  And so this is how I start my new year; desparately wanting more time for me, without my family suffering.  If you have any success stores, please share.

And my you all have a Happy New Year and thanks for sticking around!

A Christmas Wish

It's after 11pm on Christmas night, the child is asleep, and I am up alone in a quiet house. This has been a challenging December at our house and it's not over yet.  Tom and I both had interviews for new jobs, neither of us got.  Abby was sick for her 8th birthday and we had to cancel her party.  Two dear friends at work have left the agency, one moved to a new and exciting job at another agency and one retired to an exciting home remodeling project.  Both will be sorely missed and whose absence leaves a gaping hole in our web team.  My church that I have been a member of for 24 years voted 213/176 to dismiss a much loved and controversial minister essentially splitting our church in two.  I am still vexed by this action and feel betrayed and broken-hearted.  As my family celebrated the arrival of my brother-in-law and his family visiting from Korea for the holidays, the part of my family that lives in Dallas was gathering to celebrate Christmas last night.  Unfortunately a freak accident as they were all leaving for their homes has left my aunt in intensive care in a Dallas hospital and my family reeling from the sudden randomness of the trauma inflicted on both my aunt and my nephew who was also injured.  They tell us that her injuries at this time are not life-threatening, but they are life-changing.  My nephew's truck rolled over both of them when the parking brake failed.  My aunt is 69 years old and has multiple fractures and lacerations and will likely be permanently disfigured on the left side of her face and head.  It is still too early to know much else for certain.  There is a lot of inflammation that needs to subside before they can consider surgery, so she is being sedated for now and we wait.  My husband Tom drove my mother to Dallas this morning.  He volunteered and had his bag packed 30 minutes after we got the call last night.  We celebrated Christmas today without them as they sat vigil in a hospital 200 miles north. 

Last December I lost a childhood friend to cancer and my father-in-law to a lung disease.  As painful as that December was, I am feeling almost as vulnerable this year.  Though I don't pray, it's not part of my religious practice, I understand some Unitarians do, I do have a Christmas Wish for my aunt Martha, a beloved aunt whom I am very close to, to heal quickly and allow her family who loves her to help her in any way that we can.  I also hope that my nephew who assumes too much responsibility for the accident will find peace in the fact that nobody was to blame and that we all love them both very much.  May the New Year bring healing for us all.

Peace.

Giving Thanks

  1. Us I am thankful that my family is in good health
  2. I am thankful I have a job – I have lived through tough econimic times when I was not as securely employed (like the 1980's) and it makes a difference.
  3. I am thankful Tom got his degree and even though he still doesn't have a full time teaching contract yet, he is subbing regularly and get this…he doesn't hate it.  That's big.
  4. I am thankful for all my friends, whether they are local or distant or even whether I have ever met them in person or not, they make being a mere human being bearable.
  5. I am thankful that my mom lives nearby now and that she is involved in our lives and she is in a safer place.
  6. I am thankful for all the relatives that don't live near us, I just wish they did. (Hear that Martha, Laurie, Bart?)
  7. I am thankful that we we do not have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage on our home.  Boy, am I thankful.
  8. I am thankful that our cars keep running, most of the time, even though they are 10 years old.  If they can just hang in there a little longer.
  9. I am so very thankful that the next president of this country is a visionary, reasonable, uncommon man who I believe will save us all.
  10. I am thankful that the winters in Texas are not any worse than they are because I am convinced I would freeze to death if it was any colder for any longer.
  11. I am thankful for my husband, Tom because after ten years of marriage, even though he's a little surly sometimes and he would rather live in the city, he doesn't leave me and he is the best father I have ever known. Did I mention that he's been married to me for 10 years?  That's really big.
  12. I am thankful that my oldest daughter, Kandis has grown up to be a wonderful wife, mother, friend and daughter. I am also thankful that she found a wonderful husband, Rob and that they gave me a wonderful grandson, Cooper!

Now, let's all eat turkey and pie and take naps and shop (modestly).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Positive Product Review and the Art of Distraction

I have recently come across a couple of products that I have decided deserve sharing because of their effectiveness or quality or whatever it is that makes us buy a product again after we have tried it once.  This also gives me something to do while we wait for the election returns tomorrow night.  Waiting is not one of my best things.  Ask anyone. 

Hand and Body Lotion – Joy Spa Formula and J.A.S.O.N. Cocoa Butter Lotion

I have had dry skin my whole, entire life.  I remember when I was growing up Jergens was in every grandmother's house and in ours.  I don't think it had a lot of competition in the early days.  I remember when Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion first came out.  It was all the rage.  The long awaited cure for dry skin.  Meh.  But it was the best we had.  I tried every new hand and body lotion that came out for many years.  Avon, cosmetics companies, hospital grade products, herbal remedies, and even natural salves like Bag Balm.  Some were okay, some sucked, I hated anything with perfume in it, it burned, and most felt greasy or just like I had something on me.  Then one day after my mom came back from a trip to Hot Springs, AR, she brought home with her a bottle of lotion she got at the hotel where she enjoyed the mineral springs baths.  This lotion was used by the massage therapists after her bath.  It is made from the natural hot springs found in the area.  It is the perfect hand lotion for me.  No dyes or perfumes and it absorbs into your skin easily and leaves NO residue.  I love it.  I used to have her bring it back every time she back to Hot Springs.  Well, now you can order it from them.  You can't actually order it online, but you can order it by phone and here's the web page where you can see the prices – scroll all the way down to the Joy Spa Formula Products, Therapeutic Hand & Body Lotion section.  It will not disappoint.

The other hand and body lotion I can recommend is by J.A.S.O.N. is scented – cocoa butter, that's why I love it.  I don't use many products with fragrance, because Tom hates them, but every now and then I find something with a scent that isn't objectionable to him and that I love.  Not only is this a fabulous smelling lotion to me, I use it every day on my legs which are afflicted with eczema most every winter and it helps to moisturise my tattoo.  The stuff is so rich and smooth and I swear it is still there at the end of the day, on my honor, never had a lotion with such staying power.  It comes in pump as well as squeeze tube and I usually buy it at Whole Foods, but you can order it online.  They make other scents, but cocoa butter makes me think of lying on the beach in summer and that's one of my happy places that I go when I need to. 

Niether one of these products is prohibitively expensive and they aren't that exclusive, they just work extremely well for someone who is extremely particular.  If you try them, let me know what you think.  I will be spending Tuesday night in front of the tube with family watching the returns and I'm not leaving there until I hear Obama's acceptance speech.  Then I'll tell you about a little something I found that takes care of moths.  Here's to Happy Days ahead.

Change

Changing Priorities

I can't say when exactly things changed.  It may have been when I agreed to become the PTA Fundraising Chair.  It might have been when my mom moved down from Dallas to a house only about 10 miles away.  It might have been even farther back before I became a grandma, I just can't figure out when exactly my life changed, but it did and I haven't quite adjusted to it yet.  I really miss blogging.  I really miss me time.  I really miss lots of things I used to do and don't seem to have the time to do now and yet, I keep trying to do it all.  Which means I am doing most things in a very half-assed, scatter-brained sort of way.  My life is spread so impossibly thin between work, family and volunteering that there is less and less time I get to spend at my favorite passtimes. 

Changing Technology

I used to think that I had to have something craft related to talk about in order to bother with a blog post.  I got over that a bit, but then I got completly sucked up in Twitter because Twitter can provide that instant gratification that you can't get from regular blog posting. Twitter is impetuous and reactionary.  And it limits you to 140 characters.  It's been a real lesson in brevity. It's very "in the moment".  At least for me.  Anyway, I would truly be dangerous with a smart phone because at least for now, I can only Twitter from a computer, which I am almost always in front of.  So, lately I don't blog.  I Twitter.

Changing Sizes

Starsky_jr And there has been precious little knitting.  I started a sweater for Abby.  Starsky Jr in Cascade 220 Cranberry.  I got to the armholes on the back and held it up to her.  I don't know why I can't seem to keep up with this child's growth.  I measured her.  And made the smaller size.  Now it's too small and I have to rip and start the next size up.  The pattern is killing me.  I love cables and was thinking this would be like that and it's not.  I still love the design, but it's a lot harder than it looks.  Something like a 14 row repeat that is hard to read on the needles.  Anyway, I think I'm getting better at reading it and only refer to the chart every so often.  Also when I sit down to knit these days, it's just before bedtime or during debates (try debate watching while Twittering the drinking game AND knitting), so it's not real productive knitting time.  Now I'm ripping.  <sigh>

Changing Seasons

Dorothy I did manage to sew Abby's Halloween costume while she was at a Brownie Sleepover last weekend.  I think it's big enough for her to wear next year too.  We're still looking for a Toto stand-in for this gig.

The Daylight Savings thing begins again this weekend, so what that means to me is: short, dark days when I can't get a decent photograph of anything that I made.  It also means that it's winter. 

The Change

I started having hot flashes.  It took me a while to figure out what was happening.  I always thought it would be great to feel warmth instead of cold all the time.  But it's not like that at all.  It's like being really embarrassed.  It's not just warmth and it's not all over, it's just from the chest up and it's a discomfort – not horrible, but it gets your attention and it's hard to ignore.  But it passes.  My chiropractor tried to get me to take these Chinese herbs, she said something about my pancreas steaming.  As scientific as that sounded an all, I decided to pass for now and we'll just see how it goes.

Changes in Attitude

It's a really stressful time for lots of people, like those with money in the stock market or in real estate, or in retirement accounts, but I can't really get too worked up about that right now, maybe because there's not a damn thing I can do about it.  I am very excited about the prospect of a real change in the leadership of this country and I don't think much can spoil this optimism.  See, I don't dislike change, I embrace it.  Tomorrow I am voting, I have never voted early before.   I always liked the excitment of voting on Election Day, but I don't want to take ANY chances on something going wrong that day. I am really looking forward to Tuesday night TV.  I wonder if we have any champagne?

Feeling Memish

37 things about me(cuz it's been so long you folks must have forgotten).

Borrowed from Beth.

1. Do you like blue cheese? No way!

2. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? Yep, for over 25 years EXCEPT when I was pregnant.  This November marks two years since I quit.  Still miss it.

3. Do you own a gun? Husband owns a pistol.  Currently I have in my custody a .22 rifle that is a loaner(for squirrel control).

4. What Kool Aid flavor was your favorite? Hate Kool aid, but might dye yarn with it.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Not any more.  Have great doc been going to for 15 years.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? Love hot dogs, but feel guilty about it.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Scrooged with Bill Murray.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Diet Dr. Pepper.

9. Can you do push ups? Probably not, but I haven't tried.  Thought about it though, cuz of all the hype about 100 pushups, but lack any real motivation.

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? a pair of pewter birdhouse earrings, a gift from my oldest daughter.

11. Favorite hobby? Knitting, duh, but not the only one.

12. Do you have A.D.D.?  It has never been diagnosed.  My husband is NOT a physician, so it really doesn't matter what he thinks.

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Yes, bifocals, used to wear contacts, can't anymore – too many visual deficiencies.

14. Middle name? Ann

15. Name three thoughts at this exact moment? 1. So tired 2. Really should be sitting in the Living room and enjoying my husband's channel surfing company. 3. Where are my plumbing tools?

16. Name three drinks you drink regularly. Diet Dr Pepper, Dos Equis, Diet Dr Pepper.

17. Current worry? I weigh too much.

18. Current hate right now? Politics.

19. Favorite place to be? outside, when it's not cold.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? As usual, at home probably asleep?

21. Where would you like to go? China

22. Name three people who will complete this? Couldn't say.

23. Do you own slippers? Yes, they are sheepskin, only wear in winter.

24. What shirt are you wearing? "BrOwse me" t shirt I got for free at the Opera booth at SXSWi last year.  First time I've worn it.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Doughtful – though I don't know – only %100 cotton or cotton flannel.

26. Can you whistle? Yes, but struggle with the Andy Griffin theme.

27. Favorite color? greens blues and browns and cranberry.

28. Would you be a pirate? Nah, I get a little sea sick.

29. What songs do you sing in the shower? none.

30. Favorite girls name? Tula

31. Favorite boys name? Dirk (silly questions)

32. What's in your pocket right now? $14.32 cash, grocery reciept, gas reciept, lottery ticket for tonight (crossing fingers) and a business card from someone I met today.

33. Last thing that made you laugh?  Husband trying to convince me to stop doing this and watch a show about body language.

34. What vehicle do you drive? 1998 Subaru Legacy.

35. Worst injury you ever had? Broken ribs – bastard ex-husband.

36. Do you love where you live? I love Texas, I am content in my current house for now.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house? 3 – sometimes they are all on at the same time.

Okay, now that that's done, perhaps I'll try a real post in a day or so.