Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
So guess what I did?
Yup! I whipped out my light-up knitting needles and knit most of baby bib while watching the movie. (Mom thought it was funny, and no one was hurt by the tiny light show my needles made. )
Super Simple Shawl
And here I am, simpering in the Super Simple Shawl:
Sarah also took a picture of the back:
I did the version with four triangles, and I like the way it stays on. So many of the shawls I've made want to slither off unless I sit absolutely still, or pin the shawl to my clothing. I also did the knitted edging included as an option for finishing. It was enjoyable to knit, and pretty when finished.
Facing the Giants
Thursday, September 28, 2006
A package for Sam!
Can a taste for certain foods be genetic?
As the children have grown, I have found that they like a lot of the same food I like, even though they haven't eaten them with any kind of regularity. They certainly haven't been trained to eat these foods.
Here are two recipes that the children often ask me to make when Steve is out of town on a business trip:
1 whole chicken, cooked and deboned
chicken broth (about 3 cups)
6 eggs, hardboiled, peeled & sliced
Pastry for a double-crust pie (if bought, use two deep-dish piecrusts)
1/2 c. butter
1 c. milk
While chicken is cooking I make the pastry:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2/3 c. shortening
6 to 7 T. cold water
Mix flour and salt in mixing bowl. Cut in shortening until pieces are about pea-sized. Add water slowly by tablespoon, mixing with other ingredients until all is moistened. Divide dough in half. Roll into two balls.
Roll out one ball to fit dimensions of casserole dish (I usually use a 9x12 dish). Roll other ball thinly, but cut it into strips. Butter or grease casserole pan, then put a few strips of pastry in bottom of pan. Layer cooked chicken, sliced eggs, butter pats, and more pastry strips until ingredients are used up. Add salt and pepper and enough chicken broth to cover ingredients about 2/3 the depth of casserole dish. Cover all with the other pastry and put in 350-degree oven to cook for 45 minutes. When casserole is done, set on trivet to cool slightly and thicken. With spoon, lift up each corner of pastry and pour about 1/4 c. milk into each corner. After 10 minutes, serve. It's even better the next day as leftovers, cold.
1 round steak, cut into small cubes
6 potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
2 onions, sliced thinly and separated into rings
1/2 c. butter
2 pastries for double-crust pies, (or 4 pie crusts)
In greased pie pan set one pie crust. Layer meat, potatoes, onion rings. Dot with butter. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Cover with another pie crust. Do the same with second pie pan. Seal edges of pie crusts, then make a few vents in top of pie with fork or knife. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. This is also even better the next day as leftovers, cold!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Sam at play
I got all the way downstairs after taking his picture when I realized that Jeannine and Tammy wouldn't be able to read the titles on the shelves behind Sam unless I went back and took pictures of the books. So here they are. (You girls don't strain yourselves!)
A surprise from Meg
I had to make myself finish it, as I did not like it at all. Twice before I'd tried to read it, and twice before I'd given up before making it even a third of the way through the book. I'd like to be able to say that when I came to the end of the story I was glad to have read it, but I can't.
This was a tale of adultery, not romance. The lives affected were train-wrecked, and no one emerged happy or content, not even the people in the outer story.
The outer story involves two literary researchers, a man and a woman, each researching a different literary figure - also a man and a woman - from the mid-1800's. They realize that their figures apparently had significant contact with one another, even though there is no public record of such. They travel, search, read and interview to find out the extent of the supposed relationship. Their 20th century lives as academic professionals reminded me of the worst of academic life. And unlike Lucky Jim, they don't realize how pompous and dreary and humorous their obsession with their area of study is.
The inner story is of the two literary figures, both poets, and minor ones at that. The book is filled with pages and pages of the poetry these fictional characters wrote, and I didn't find the poems enjoyable. In fact, after a while I started skipping whole chunks of poetry, or barely reading a line here and there.
At least the story came to a conclusion. I was grateful for that, as it seemed as though it might never end, or end ambiguously, like Villette .
On Monday I started reading The Thirteenth Tale.
I'm afraid to make comparisons to other books, lest I spoil the story's twists and turns. So what can I say? I liked it. I couldn't put it down today until I finished it. I immediately handed it to Jacy and told her she has to read it so I can talk about it with someone else. At first I thought I wouldn't enjoy it - some of the characters were just too repulsive. But soon they didn't really figure in the story much, and then the story really got interesting. And I very much appreciate the fact that Setterfield neatly tied up every storyline and explained every character by the end of the book.
I'm glad I didn't wait for the library to buy it, but instead shelled out the $$$ for a hardcover edition. It was worth every penny - a fine indulgence.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Yes! I'd love to show the children my spinning wheel and my hand-spindle, and spin some yarn for them. It's been months since I've touched my spinning, and I'm long overdue to get back to it, especially since next month is the long-awaited trip to Rheinbeck, NY for the NY Sheep & Wool Festival. Months ago Penny and I talked about how great it was going to be to buy fiber for spinning - new fiber (because we already have fiber for spinning, but it's old now), exotic fiber, maybe even a smelly fleece to take from its raw state and process it ourselves. I really need to use up more of the wool I already have so that I'll have room in my fiber bin for new stuff!
For several months - since March, I think - I've had two bobbins full of spun yarn needing to be plied. I only have three bobbins. Because I'd like to spin yarn for the children's class, I knew I should go ahead and ply that yarn. So that's what I did yesterday afternoon.
Then I wrapped it on the niddy-noddy where I'll leave it to show the class.
I pulled out some gorgeous soft merino in a magnificent red colorway (Pam gave it to me) to start spinning. Hopefully I'll have a few days to practice spinning it before I have anyone watch me at it. It's a very slick and quick fiber and wants to pull out of my hands and onto the bobbin before it's spun enough. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's a rich fiery red with blue and yellow for excitement.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Friday night pictures
I remember meeting Uncle Hiram a year or two before they married and thinking what a nice man he was. He showed the boys some fish he caught, then he and Aunt Jane walked with us down to a little park with a railroad running through it and we saw the train come through. Glenn and Aric were about 12 and 10 then, and Tom and Jacy were toddlers.
I hope that some pictures of Hayley, Abbey, and Madyson I send to Aunt Jane and Uncle Hiram go through - if not, I'll have to take lots when the girls come here to visit next month and send the pictures to them then. (Who am I kidding? Of course I'll take lots of pictures of the girls when they come see us!)
Jacy asked me to post some better pictures of her with her sisters.
Here they are on one of the front porch swings last month.
And here they are with Marley and cousins Charlotte and Kelli at Grandmother's funeral back in March.
And just for fun, here's a picture of Marley and Sam taken a few weeks ago, when they were pretending they lived in Mexico:
Yes, I'm a lemming
I jumped on the bandwagon. Or I caved. I blame Sarah and Cindy and various ads in various publications that I've read recently. Even though I requested my local library buy The Thirteenth Tale I went ahead and bought it today while I was in Books-A-Million buying books for a birthday gift. I bought it for me. Obviously I have no patience. When I got home, the mail had arrived, and in it a package from overseas with this book inside.
So now in addition to my serious reading (Sophie's World) I have lighter fare to enjoy. Good thing today is Friday and there are no new Monk episodes until January.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
That left me only Dad's Aran cardigan to work on, and I can't haul that around easily. What to do, but knit another pair of socks? Providentially for me, Penny and Meg had wanted to check out my new Knit Picks size 2 circular needles while I was in Virginia last weekend, so I cast on blue Opal sock yarn and they both knit a round of k2 p2 as the start of sock ribbing. Now I am well into a pair of Auburn socks for Jacy. On one sock the ribbing, heel, and toe will be blue, and the rest of the sock will be orange. The other sock will have ribbing, heel, and toe of orange with the rest of the sock in blue. Because I'll have enough left of each yarn to knit another pair of similar socks, I told Kim I'd knit a pair of Auburn socks for her, too, and she promised to wear them!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Small world... big God
Mrs. C. and I visited briefly, but she was bustling about packing and getting ready to go home. I promised to call her in a few days when I get the yarn I ordered for her. We made plans for me to go to her home and knit with her then.
On my way out, I saw Col. F. again and asked about his wife. He urged me to go down the hall to their quarters and see her. I did, but she was napping, so I didn't disturb her. Their suite was lovely and made so warm and cozy with a few beautiful antiques, old wicker furniture with cushions of pretty fabric, and paintings on the walls. The paintings were the type you look at and think, "I'd like to be there, in that picture." I told Colonel F. that I liked the paintings, and as I did, I looked more closely, saw the signatures, and exclaimed, "You or Mrs. F. painted them!" He smiled and said that they both did. They both got degrees in art from UAB. He urged me to come again soon to see Mrs. F. and I said I'd be back on Friday.
Back in March...
Colonel and Mrs F., my knitting buddy, Mrs. C., and my grandmother were all in the local emergency room at the same time on the same day. I went there after I got the message from my mom that Grandmother had been transported by ambulance to the ER and her condition was not good. I took a sock to knit and settled down to wait with Mom to find out what they could do for Grandmother. Mrs. C. was brought into the same ER bay as Grandmother and her son and daughter-in-law, Ann, were there with her. She had been at lunch with friends when she suddenly lost her ability to speak and the doctor was about to start tests to try and determine why that happened. Ann introduced herself and her mother-in-law and asked me what I was knitting and I told her it was a sock. Mrs. C. heard and made gestures to Ann. Ann told me that Mrs. C. crocheted a lot, but she used to knit also. She asked if I would show Mrs. C. my sock. I did, and although Mrs. C. could not speak, she pointed to the stitches, the needles, stroked the knitted fabric, and smiled and smiled. I told her all I could think to tell her about the sock, and about using 2 circular needles instead of 4 or 5 double-pointed needles. Several hours later her ability to speak began to return slowly. I spoke to her again, and ended by saying, "When you're better, I'll come and knit with you." She nodded enthusiastically and said over and over, "Love it! Love it!"
We were in the ER a long time before the doctor decided to admit Grandmother and keep her overnight for observation. Before they moved Grandmother to a room, I walked out of the bay and over to the nurses' station to get out of the way so they could more easily move Mrs. C.'s gurney to get her down the hall to x-ray her. Mrs. F. was standing a few yards away from me talking to the nurses, telling them that she didn't know if her husband had had a heart attack or not. (The nurses obviously knew her, because they loudly and repeatedly addressed her by name.) While I was standing there, about to go back to Grandmother, Mrs. F. finished her conversation, turned, lost her balance, and crashed to the floor in front of me. I rushed over to her and knelt on the floor beside her, murmuring to her to try to be still. A nurse came over and wiped her head - her glasses had broken and cut her temple - and another nurse raced down the hall to get the EMT crew. They told Mrs. F. to lie still, and they'd get her on a backboard, then down to x-ray. I stayed with her until they took her away. I didn't know it, but her husband was in the single bay behind us, and had watched helplessly as it all happened. (He had suffered a heart attack - he told me today.) After they x-rayed Mrs. F. they brought her into the same bay with Grandmother and Mrs. C.
We eventually left the ER and went to Grandmother's hospital room. My aunt and cousin came to see Grandmother, and I went home to get some books and more knitting, as we decided I would stay the night there in Grandmother's room with her. My aunt and cousin left, and Mother got ready to go, too. It was late by this time, and I didn't want her to walk out to her car alone, so I walked her down the hall and out to her car. As we headed towards the exit, we passed a room with the door open and saw Mrs. F. lying in the bed. I said to Mother, "Let's see how Mrs. F. is, " and we stopped, knocked on her door, and went in. We didn't know her and she certainly didn't know us, but I introduced us both to her, and she told us she was Doris F., and I told her that we'd been there with her in the ER when she fell and wondered how she was. She told us that she had broken her pelvis, her shoulder, and her arm, and had a nasty contusion on the side of her face. She was relieved that the doctor thought they could just set the bones and allow her to heal without surgery.
I let her know that I'd be down the hall with Grandmother, and I told her that I probably wouldn't sleep much in the chair, but would pray for her through the night. She thanked me and asked for Grandmother's name so she could pray for her during the night, too. The next day I went into her room again and spoke, met her daughter, expressed the hope that I would someday see her again, and promised to continue to pray for her.
So today I thought how amazing it was that these people are a part of my life again. And I thank God that He makes lives connect in such intricate, surprising, and wonderful ways.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
This arrived in my mailbox this afternoon:
After comparing the books we both own and reviewing suggestions from others, Jeannine and I have settled on a big book to read together. Sophie's World is subtitled "A Novel About the History of Philosophy," and will doubtless strain my feeble little gray cells. Nonetheless, I am determined to read and understand it. And reading it with Jeannine will make it fun and help me figure it out.
I have requested from my local library the books suggested by Donna and Tammy, and I have Dan's suggestion already on my bookshelf. I guess it will be the next really thick book I read, since Dan is the third person to recommend it. Steve always says, "Three data points mark a trend," and Dan is the third person (after my grandmother and my dad) to recommend Witness by Whittaker Chambers.
I've made a good start on the left and right front sides of Dad's cardigan:
And finally, Donna wrote, "Why not post a picture of your happy place on your blog today?" So here they are:
Our front porch at dusk. Almost every morning Steve and I go out here and read the paper and drink coffee together. This afternoon the girls and I went over their Latin lesson here. And just about any day any one or more of the children will sit on the swings and read.
And because I have have another happy place, here it is:
Yes, my chair in the family room. This happy place has knitting all around, and a trashcan within arm's length so I can throw junk away - and the ubiquitous pile of books I'm reading has been cleared away... for now.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Operation Sneaky Pig - then "home again, home again, jiggety jig!"
All of Meg's extended family and her Christian 'family' from church were there. Since Dan let everybody know about this surprise party (Operation Sneaky Pig) several months in advance, I had time to think, "Oh, rats - I can't go... hope Meg has a nice party." Then think weeks later, "Maybe I could go... what's on the calendar around that time?" Then several days before the party to pray about it and broach the subject with Steve, "Honey, you know Dan's planning a surprise party for Meg's 40th birthday on Sept. 16th, do you think I could go?"
Steve said it worked with his calendar and the girls said they could cover my nursery duties at church on Sunday. I decided to take David, Sam , and Marley with me, and when I called Sarah in Virginia she graciously agreed to host us for the two nights and one day that we'd be there.
The children and I left at 4:00 a.m. on Friday and were in northern Virginia by 3:30 p.m. We picked up Tom (Sarah generously invited Tom and Karin to dinner Friday night so we could see them, too), went by the knitting store to get some surprises for my knitting buddy in AL, dropped David and Marley off at friends' houses to play for an hour, then went on over to Sarah's. I thought I'd run a couple of errands in town once we arrived, but it's not a large town and I knew there was a very good likelihood that I'd run into Meg, or she'd see me toodling around town in Steve's car with the ALABAMA license plate. I really did not care to spoil the surprise, so I happily stayed put and enjoyed visiting with Sarah, Lars, and their children.
Saturday morning was gray and drizzly. But it wasn't cold - still perfect weather for an outdoor party, and we'd be eating under a pavilion. Sarah drove us all over to the recreation area and we were there to see Dan bring Meg and sing "Happy Birthday" to her.
Then all the adults and children enjoyed the playground, the reservoir, the food, and the conversation.
Meg's reaction was sweet and she enjoyed her party. Her sister made her a small memory book with pictures and a poem she wrote for Meg. Then she read it aloud to Meg - brought tears to my eyes and made me wish I had a sister. Meg's mother and sister also made her birthday cakes - one in the shape of a 4, another in the shape of a 0, and a knitting cake!
After several hours of enjoying Meg's party, people started packing up to leave. Sarah offered to have the knitting ladies over to her house that night so I could knit with them. So Penny, Meg, Triny, Sarah, and I knitted together for an hour or so. It was pure bliss for me.
Kim took pictures of us and I'm going to print one of my four knitting friends so that the next "knit night" they have I can prop up their picture here in my home in Alabama and knit with them.
The children and I left Sarah's at 7:00 a.m. yesterday and got home last night at 5:00 p.m. The trip was quick, but well worth it. (I keep thinking of Meg's face when she saw me waving at her - priceless, but of course I wasn't holding my camera.)
Meg needs to have more 40th birthdays!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Not knitting what I should
Several months before we moved from Virginia to Alabama I bought this yarn, Suri Dream, from Knit Picks thinking the alpaca would be nice and warm knit into a simple shawl. Alabama is much warmer than I remembered, so the Suri Dream sat in a box until last week.
A friend's husband is in the hospital for an extended period receiving treatment. Almost every hospital I've been in has been chilly, no matter what the season of the year. As I was praying for this friend, her husband, and their children, I remembered the yarn and thought it would be a nice chill-chaser for her as she stays at the hospital with her husband. I'd hoped to finish by today so I could overnight it to her, but I'm not done yet.
My friend is taller than me, so I need a bit more length, then a fringe to finish it off. It's nice and warm, but not thick. I'm using size 11 needles (the new Knit Picks needles I got a few weeks ago) and 4 balls of the yarn, and I'm knitting the Lion Brand prayer shawl pattern. I hope my friend doesn't mind the color.
I guess this counts as knitting, even though it requires no concentration and is a quick and easy pattern.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
No time to knit, but if I could...
I just discovered that the new Knitty is up. I spent a delightful/wasteful hour reading all the articles and looking at all the patterns. (That Lizard Ridge afghan is incredible!)
And I need to bathe Sam, and fold another load of clothes, and tidy up the family room, and so it goes... .
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Pictures for Tom
(I have no idea what that lone Confederate colonel is doing with all those men in blue! David hasn't read much about that period of history yet - can't wait to ragg him a little someday when he does and confront him with this picture.)
(All of Sam's cars are lined up behind an upside-down Playmobil shield.)
We've got an evening lined up tonight. Jacy and Sarah will go to their discipleship group. David and Marley are out at the lake, and will probably be home by supper-time. Joan and Sam plan to watch "Dumbo." I'm having local ladies over to knit and visit - and eat pound cake. Steve will be working. One of the ladies I'd hoped to have here tonight recently had surgery and won't be able to make it. She's recuperating at a nearby assisted-living home, so I went to see her this afternoon.
Several weeks ago I took her two large skeins of Opal sock yarn and several sock patterns. She already knit one pair of socks and is half-way with a second pair. I saw the lovely work she's done on the second pair - and she told me how much she loves the self-patterning yarn. She also said that having the knitting once again has been a blessing in dealing with the pain from the surgery. This morning she awoke at 1:00 from pain. She knitted until 3:30 a.m. - until she was soothed enough to go back to sleep. I gave her a few new knitting magazines and promised to come back tomorrow and show her my dad's sweater, a shawl I'm working on, and bring her a couple of knitting catalogs. There are no nearby yarn stores, so I need to share sources with her. She lifted my spirits, too, when she said, "Since I moved here I've had no one to knit with. I'm so happy now to have you as my knitting buddy!"
And I'm thankful to have her as my knitting buddy, too!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Looking for book suggestions
And just so you know, these titles are out because either Jeannine or I have already read them:
War and Peace
Gone with the Wind
A Suitable Boy
The Travels of Jamie McPheeters
The Small House at Allington
Please leave suggestions in the comments, or email me, or link to suggestions at your blog. Thanks!
Friday, September 08, 2006
Why I love homeschooling - Reason #3
We've been homeschooling for a while (16 years) so we have a lot of material that we use over and over. The last curriculum fair or homeschool conference I attended was at least 7 years ago, and due to moving six times in the last five years I get no more homeschool catalogs. All that to say, while I do not NEED any new books or other material, I do LIKE to SEE what's out there, both for the children and for me.
For the first eight or nine years that we homeschooled I'd get material that I wanted to study or read when I bought books for the children. Over the years topics I studied included: herbs (growing and using them); pregnancy and childbirth; services of a doula; bread baking; care, storage, and restoration of books; history of samplers and other fancy needlework; creation science; the Lewis & Clark expedition; Theodore Roosevelt; Abigail Adams; the Norman Conquest; and so on.
Each year I would immerse myself in learning about a topic, event, a person, etc., and buy a few books and check out a lot more at the library and through interlibrary loan. It hasn't made me an expert on anything, but I have enjoyed learning and sometimes my family has experienced tangible rewards from my studies (like fresh bread from a variety of grains during the year I delved into bread-making).
It's been several years since I've gotten any new material for the children from any source, and at least as many years since I've bought anything "educational" for me. This year I ordered quite a few books from Amazon and independent booksellers, and even bought several books from Books-A-Million to use in studying literature. I also subscribed to a newsletter on-line for me (and for Jacy, Sarah, and Joan). I'm enjoying it immensely! Each morning the newsletter is in my email inbox and we see what's happened on this day in literature. Today in Literature gave me a two-week trial membership to see what it was like. At the end of my two weeks I decided that I wanted to have a premium subscription for a year, and the girls and I have been enjoying it now for about two months.
I haven't decided what I'm going to focus on for my studies this year, but it may end up being a survey of literature.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Aran cardigan back - done!
Last night I finished the back of Dad's cardigan and knitted the pockets. I should have cast on the left and right fronts tonight, but I worked on a mindless shawl instead. I am so thankful that the back is done. I know that it's probably less than 2/3 of the sweater, but it's a pretty good start. Knitting this cardigan has been enjoyable and without trouble, except for one mistake.
Yeah. I totally messed up a cable and continued knitting a good - oh, 8 or 9 rows BEYOND the mistake. There was nothing to do about it except fix it. I figured I could either unknit 8 or 9 complete rows (148 stitches to a row) or drop the 4 messed-up stitches for 9 rows and laboriously pull the stitches up the rows in the proper order to create the cable the way it was supposed to look. I chose to drop the stitches. I think it took me an hour (maybe longer) to fix that mistake, but it was a good lesson because I'd never done that before. Now I know I can do it - but I hope I won't have to again!
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Here's a picture
Look! It's Karin and Tom - on her birthday, I think. (Thanks, Karin, for the pictures!)