Tuesday, April 25, 2006



In reply to my Mother in the comments, I was 23 years old when I moved to San Francisco. I don't know who ever told you that I was coming back, because it wasn't me. That pile of boxes in your garage and a change of address notification didn't give it away? Your memory is getting a bit wonky, Mom, better start doing the word searches to ward off total senility.


My best friend, Kati, wacky, crazy, insane, wild woman, Kati, came to visit me, too, for my Birthday. She is wacky and insane because she worked 12 hours on Saturday, got into her car at 10pm and drove 9 hours from Northern Michigan to the 'burgh. CRAZY.

I really should have included the fact that Kati came all that way for me in my entry about that day. But my cup overflows and it just seems like bragging to say how much I am really loved. Yes, I had many gifts, gifts of fun stuff and gifts of time. I just get self-conscious if I list it all. I am a spoiled girl.

Oh, and Kati, dear and darling best friend, if you would let me take a picture of you, you would totally make it onto my blog. I have no pictures of you from probably the last 4 years... I know I have one of you holding INBA in the hospital... oh, no, there are some from LB when you and Annette came to visit and we went to Venice Beach. But see how hard I have to look? Smile for the camera and there is no issue.


I finished the Mister's socks. I want to take a picture of them on his feet so that you can see that they look better on.
I cast on the second Disco sock. It amuses me to no end to have such sparkley yarn. I cannot wait to wear them... can I say that if I hurry I might get to wear them before the weather changes again?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Life is like a Word Search

or, You Find What You Look For

So, I gave up my bad attitude for Lent. And like a chocoholic on Easter Morn decapitating every bunny in sight, I oozed attitude, without even realizing it. This startled me, as I noticed over the following days that I quit censoring myself, "ha ha, I gave up my bad attitude for Lent!" or, "Ah, isn't the 'burgh quirky?" I just let go. "No, I don't like living here." I never said that there aren't good things about this place. It is family friendly, there are lots of cultural and educational places to go and things to do with the kids. The schools are good. There are worse places. That doesn't mean that it is my first, second or third choice. I think it bugs me that this is a problem. How many people get to live one of the top three places their heart desires. Why is it my problem that I would prefer to live elsewhere? Why is it better for me to lie and say, "Why, yes, I love this town and I am so glad that I gave up my perfectly lovely home, friends, life, what have you, to live here." Don't ask if you don't want to know. I don't lie. Sorry.

Anyway, I gave up my bad attitude. I am obviously too sensitive and defensive on this topic. It is a good thing to give up, unlike chocolate, for instance.

My Grandmother that passed away on St.Patrick's Day loved puzzles. Most specificly, word search. She bought them by the case, literally. One of her girlfriends took most of the unused ones, I saved a couple to bring home for Eldest. He is just beginning to read, so they are pretty challenging for him. He does like the number searches, a lot.

I am sitting here during lunch, looking through one of the books. I could not tell you the last time I did a word search, until today. The one that caught my eye had ELECT hidden in it 50 times. I found 46 and am telling myself that I probably forgot to tick off 4 of them. I will turn back to it to see if I can find another 4 later, because that is a good life lesson.

If you are stumped, frustrated, cannot see any more solution. Stop. Take a break and come back with a new perspective. (I need a vacation*, bad.)

So, I flipped to the front of the book. Number one was lame. It was words to do with the Pony Express. Reminds me too much of CA. I moved on to puzzle number two. "A 'ful' plate," words that can be followed by 'ful.' It is a block of letters 14 wide by 14 tall. At first look, it is a mass of nonsense, rows and rows of letters. Suddenly, a word jumps out at me and I examine the list to see if I should circle it. Yep, 'pocket' is indeed on the list. I go on like this for a bit, pick a word and try to find it.
'Glee' didn't want to be found. Double 'e,' how can something so obvious hide? It was backwards. I tried for 'success.' Two double letters were plain as day. 'Cheer' was alluding me. I found several other words before I thought that maybe looking for double 'e' wasn't really the way to find 'Cheer.' Maybe what I thought was obvious about the word wasn't really what made it special and stand out. 'Ch' was easily followed by 'eer.'

Another life lesson. Change the way you are looking at a problem, your expectations of the answer, if you are not finding the solution. Paradigm shift, I think this is called in certain circles. Ah! a pun, get it?

I found 'faith,' I found 'wonder.' 'Scorn,' 'fret,' and 'doubt' all but bit my fingers to be found. 'Youth' was backwards and diagonal to the left.
I wandered around the puzzle looking for something I would recognize. Nothing came. I thought, perhaps I should read the word list through. I had missed most of the words in between the ones that had come easily. 'Truth.' 'Purpose.' 'Grace.' 'Bliss.' They all needed to be found, but I didn't realize they were there.
I didn't realize they were there to be found. When I knew what I was looking for, I could find it.

When I knew what I was looking for, I could find it. Is that a life lesson? Well, I don't know about you, but no one handed out a list of things to find in life when I was in school. But that is just it. I was in school. I had parents, I had the media, I had church, I had books and teachers all trying to tell me what I need to know to find what I am looking for... do dangling participles bother you, too? They all were trying to tell me what to find.

Anyway, without even knowing it, I have always found that for which I looked. No one talks that way, but you know what I mean. If I am looking for a good park, I will look until I find one. Looking for a reason to be ticked off in traffic? Easy. Do I want to be offended by the clerk in the store? Sure, go to the grocery store that I cannot pronounce (see how bad I am?) Looking for a quicker way to get somewhere in Pittsburgh? If you know a way, please tell me, I am still looking.
The key that I am beginning to see, is that I have to be aware of what I am looking for in order to find what I want to find. I don't want to be unhappy, grumpy, irritable, cranky, mean and nasty toned. But what is it that I need to find to be happy... where I am.

Frankly, though you may not know it, I am happy. I have a blessed life. I have a fantastic Mister, gorgeous and healthy kids, a home, food in the pantry, clothes to wear, hobbies to amuse me, you name it and I have the essentials to keep my family safe and warm. I think my problem lies in other peoples expectations, not my own. I am ok with just being ok with living here. I don't have to love it, I don't have to give a whip about the Steelers. I just have to be ok, and I am. Maybe I feel bad because I don't love it while "everyone" else does. I feel bad because I don't have their same expectations. Maybe it is a tough enough struggle just to expect myself to be ok. Can I accept a little 'respect' for that struggle?

I have 'faith.' I pray for 'grace.' My family is my 'purpose.' I tell the 'truth.' I try to use 'tact' and avoid 'scorn' and 'doubt.' I 'watch' with 'wonder' the 'youth' of my boys. I 'respect' my Mister's 'pocket' with 'taste' and 'care.' I am ok.

What a thought provoking puzzle. I am ok, you are ok... someone should write a book.

What if this is all wrong and Life is really like Sudoku? The same thing across, down and in the little box. Constantly repeating the same things but only one at a time and never the same order and it all has to work together. Hmm, a tougher puzzle. I may be on to something here, let me think on it a bit.

*vacation as defined as a getaway that involves no family but the immediate, something fun and relaxing and long enough to feel like we have been away. Like 2 weeks in California, for a random example. I would return from such a trip... yes, I would, don't be so cynical.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Where Have I Been?

Playing Outside

This is the Pear Tree in our back yard. It is a little hard to see the flowers, the leaves sprouted almost immediately. It smells very nice and the BEES love it.

This is my Neighbor's Crab Apple Tree. It fills the air with an almost overwhelming fragrance.

Where else have I been...
Oh, how right you are!
Thank goodness for the Pharmacist. Allergy meds galore. I found out not too long after moving to this lovely area that I am allergic to Oak Trees. Convenient that the neighbor on the other side of the Neighbors has Oak Trees ringing their yard. Lovely? Quite. Thankfully there are DRUGS that allow me to go out side this year.

You Know What the Boys Like...

The Sandbox is perhaps man's greatest invention.

Even when we would go to the Beach, the boys spent the vast majority of the time in the sand.

Anyway, the Sandbox has had 4oo pounds of sand added to it this week. I think it needs 150 more.

They have spent most of the last week in that box. They should have a good amount of sand. Unlike last year when The Mister built the box with them and then proceeded to skimp on the sand so that half way thru the summer they were down to the ground below. Cruel. Not this year, dear children. Mommy will make it better.

The weather is starting to turn, it is cooling off and getting quite grey, I guess that 4 days of rain might really be coming.

Outdoor Chores

I spent one day outside with the boys. They were in the Sandbox and I gave the porch a good cleaning... vacuumed, scrubbed the chairs and wiped down the tables.

Good thing I did, 'cuz where would I have taken a picture of my first finished toe-up sock in super snazy self-striping disco-flashin' yarn? The only thing that I am not totally thrilled with is my cast off. It is loose enough for me to wear them, but I need to be looser next time, I think.

For some reason I failed to upload the progress picture of The Mister's second sock. Just trust me that I turned the heel and am most of the way thru the gusset.

I need the Mister to hook up my grill again.

I am probably a little over zealous in my welcoming Spring... My friend Lynn called from LB, CA last night and I was so excited to tell her that I am finally wearing my CA winter clothes! She laughed at me. What was I thinking, really, that I would wear 3/4 sleeve shirts in the 'burgh in January? I think there are medical terms for that kind of delusion. But I am not going to worry, because it is MID-APRIL and they are totally appropriate, now. Some days.

I am missing Knitting at BN tonight. I have good reason, a fundraiser to build a new school for the parish. I still am a bit miffed that it interferes with my knitting night. I suppose it would look a litte odd with me in my finery and my hot pink sock bag dangling from my wrist. Maybe I could accessorize around the bag so that it is a fashion statement... instead of some other kind of statement. Hmm, I am going to have to think on this one.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It Must Have Been a Party

'Cuz My Place is Trashed...

In a really good way, not like my 21st Birthday way. There are plastic eggs and candy wrappers, Easter Grass, play sand and yard grass, mysterious spots and specks on the carpet and woodfloors, too. Tons of linen to be washed, toys to be picked up, Thank-you's to be written and wine bottles to be recycled.

I am so exhauseted and I haven't done a thing.

I have beautiful flowers from MIL to enjoy... makes the rest less noticable...not really, but the flowers are gorgeous.

Here we are. INBA is so happy to go to Church. He ended up sleeping through the whole Mass, woke up at the end, excited and exclaiming, "I was really good in Church!!"
Uh, yeah.

My Sister and her kids were here, too.

They all hunted eggs around the yard.

The Easter Bunny hid them at 11pm the night before. Honestly, they seemed pretty well hid until the sun came up. But that is ok, because 3 of the 4 hunters were male and we know how males look for stuff. Hiding in plain sight is the toughest to spot.

Oh, How Spoiled I Am!!

My Friends spoiled me. An outrageously gorgeous knitting bag along with 4 projects and a book of socks!!! Whew! Thank you, Laurie and Celtic Queen!

And I am noticing something about myself. I love socks. I enjoyed the Olympic sweater, and really knitting just about anything, but I think that socks are just the best. Oh, and my shawls, too, but the lace patterns are still stressful and I have to be really awake to concentrate on the patterns. But Socks are my thing and I am just going to embrace it.

And since The Mister knows this, I am in like Flynn.

He gave me a wool sock kit from Peace Fleece.
How awesome is my Man?

I think he likes socially conscious knitting, too.

And you know that this picture doesn't do the colors justice.


Oh, so I felt a little guilty.

I cast on his other sock.

I am almost ready to turn the heel (I tell myself.)

Lookie here. This is my pleasure. I don't know why I feel so guilty for absolutely loving this sock yarn.

Part of it is probably the coolness of learning a new method, but most of it is just the color and pattern itself. Those little flecks that you can see in the dark green are the metallic sparkles. I really like the sparkle (I think I mentioned that before.) And do you see how the blue and white pattern is different each band?

Very cool and Very amusing.

My new Sock book has another method for toe up and a couple of ways of doing the heel. I am anxious to try them. I am thinking of doing some baby sock size testers. It is hard on me when I am feeling like I need to hurry a project so that I can get on to the next to try something new. My temperment doesn't allow for unfinished to linger, it makes me a bit manic trying to finish it all. Unfortunately this leads to terrible procrastination, I don't start things until I am confident that I can finish them.

Come to think of it, that is probably why I like socks. They are portable, relatively quick to finish, and even though I usually only get to do a row here or there, they are with me most all the time. I can feel productive with them even if it takes me a month to do one sock. And I don't have to feel bad because I have another project that I work on only at home.

Tricky mind. Funny how I play games with myself and don't realize.
Actually, a little disturbing.
I guess I should start cleaning my house or it never will get done.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ah, Spring

Last Weekend...

The men of the house spent a relaxing afternoon in the back yard.
The Mister gave the grass a cut. I was a bit concerned, he was grinning as he passed under the window I was watching from... grinning and mowing. He said later when I asked (teased) him about it that he was really happy that the mower started and didn't smell really bad. MMM-HMM.
What ever it takes, babe.

After a bit of cloud watching, they tossed the ball around for a while.

Catch it!

What was Mommy doing? Mopping, sweeping, laundry... mommy stuff. A good time was had by all.

One of The Mister's socks is complete. I should have thought to take a pic of it on his foot... it looks better on.

I really don't care for the color... but it looks right when it is actually on his foot...guess that is why it is his sock.

If I was a good wife and an obedient knitter, I would have cast on the second one immediately... but no. I have some knit picks Autumn Leaves on needles for me, but knit the picot edge hem and 2 rows of the lace pattern and haven't had the whatever-it-is to sit down with them again. So, I started something else for me that I have been wanting to do for a while.

My Disco color yarn that Laurie gave me. Fortissima colori socka color. It is all in German, so I am not entirely sure which part is the official name. It makes no matter to me. It sparkles and that is all that matters. Acutally, even better than it sparkles, it has a really great pattern. I will post more progress, soon.

Obviously, I am doing my first toe up pattern. Quite fun. It is really weird to knit up with the toe closed. It feels wrong. I do like, however, that I can try it on as I go... almost to distraction... did I mention that it spakles?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Me 'n the Harlot

A Little Bit of Pittsburgh Cool.

What to do on a Friday night in Pittsburgh while the hubby and kids are tucked in snug and well? Spend it with a Harlot, baby.

My most recent brush with celebrity, is the lovely Stephanie Pearl McPhee. She was at Knit One here in the 'burgh for book signing. She didn't do a reading, she instead entertained us with anecdotes about her quest to be cool and how she undermines her own efforts by ending up just being herself. Which, I must say, is pretty cool. How unbearably plain to be just like other people... especially people that try so hard to be just like cool people.

I found it really comforting to listen to her talk, aside from the fact that she is highly amusing, but she talks normal. I mean, she is Canadian, and having grown up in Northern Michigan... well, it just sounds right to listen to a Canadian talk.

Whatcha Get???

Well, I didn't take a picture but I bought yarn to make 2 pairs of socks for me. And it is the most expensive sock yarn I have ever bought, so it may take me a bit to work up the nerve to use it. I guess I was on a warm kick last night, because they are all cranberry and browns. I am glad, too, I had done a little too much green lately. And now that I think of it, maybe it is because of the colors in the bag that The Mister has worked out my guilt into giving it to whom it was intended. What ever the reasons...I like it.
AND, a kit to make a knit shark. Of Course for INBA. The Mister was not nearly as excited as I told him he needed to be. But it really just isn't his way. Anyway, I want it to be a surprise for the boy, so I am anxiously awaiting my evening knitting time so that I can start it. I was proud of myself for not opening it up at 12:30 last night when I got home... but I had an appointment at the gym for 9 am... my priorities are whacked.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April showers?

Good morning. Not. brrr.

look at my poor daffodils. all bent over and sad.

Ah, the Boys...

Actual conversation as they were building 'forts' with the blankets in the living room.
"I want the Rainbow one!" says Eldest.
"No, it is mine." says INBA.
"Here use this one. I want the Rainbow one."
"Oh, that doesn't look good. I think this one will look better." Hands him yet another blanket.
"Oh, all right." INBA seems happy for this advice.
"Yeah, that's it, that looks a lot better. I'll use the Rainbow one, ok?"
"OK! Thanks Eldest!"

My Grandma Sides always said you got more flies with honey than vinegar. Only if the fly doesn't notice that you switched the bait on him.

I had to leave the room, I was laughing so hard.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Busy Weekend

Bag Lady Strikes Again.

I made a bag yesterday. It really wasn't so bad once I made that first snip. Then it was just another piece of cotton. More pictures are here. I am torn about the gifting of this bag. I really, really like it.
While rummaging through my stash, I found some really lovely brocade remnants. Gold with a leaf motif and another lighter gold with a chrysanthemum motif. Yum. Only about 1/2 yard each. Hmm. What to do. I have them laying on the ironing board. We'll see.
So, doing a bit of sewing has given me new appreciation for my sewing and my knitting. I think I took for granted the wonder that is my sewing machine before I began knitting. I said before that I look at my socks in a whole new way once I invest many hours in creating them. I guess when I could whip up a bag or pajamas or whatever in a relative wink, it didn't feel like it meant as much. Honestly, I was sloppy and accepted a lot that was easy to remedy because I was lazy and didn't feel like it was worth my time to fix a mistake. Granted I am not a perfectionist, but I really left some of my sewing projects with substandard finishing, even by my own standards.

I was really proud of myself this morning when I ripped out the tab for the closure to this bag. I hadn't given it any batting, it needed some strength and continuity with the rest of the bag. I didn't like the way I put the snap on or the way the button looked that I used to try and hide it. I didn't like the length of the tab. It was just lacking. I could have left it and it would have been ok. But I ripped it out, cut it off, gave it some bat, edge stitched it and then re-applied it. Then, I was dissatisfied with some of my topstitching and I even ripped and re-did that! It took all of 10 minutes, maybe. Now I really like the bag and I am not sure that I will be able to give it away. Hmm.

I think it is the knitting. I have hardly given away anything that I have knit compared to what I have sewn over the years. While I think that it is good that I am finally doing some things for myself, I think it is more about the investment of time that I have a hard time giving away. This is probably a bigger issue than I want to think about this morning. Either way, it gives me a new respect for and allows me to give more value to my sewing. It is worth my time to create something just the way it needs to be finished, it really doesn't take long with the technology at my disposal. It is worth my effort and care to create and give a gift of my talent. Even if I did use a mechanical marvel to do it, the gift is still meaningful and original and unique.

Sick Kid

Even though I am having such an affirming moment, my baby (not a baby anymore) is sick. He slept late, I thought it was the time change. He asked for a toasted english muffin and some milk. I went to take my shower and when I emerged, I found him in bed. He said he needed some rest. He did eat most of his muffin, and he isn't particularly warm, so I am not really worried, just amazed that he climbed back into bed. God Bless him.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I'm a Model

If you know what I mean

My doll, Pansy, here, usually stands around my sewing room in her undies and a 1st communion veil. Lucky day for her is today when she is Model of the Moment. I finished the sweater and skirt for Miss M's Mimi. It looks so nice on Pansy, I feel bad taking it off to put in the present pile. Poor Pansy, I guess I wasn't much of a Doll-girl, otherwise I might have made her her own suit of clothes by now. To be practical, however, it would be a bit of a hassle to undress her to try on a garment and then dress her again. Besides, her undies are pretty. No, I won't post a picture of Pansy in her undies, that would be indecent.


The crocus is already waning.

A couple of days of real warmth and then an afternoon of rain and the Jonquils open their eyes.

The Forsythia that is between us and our neighbors to the east...

and what it looks like from my desk. It is a nice bit of sunshine on an otherwise grey day.

I need a little oomph. I keep looking at the fabric for the bag but I just cannot seem to pick it up and do something. This may stem from having that Rooster fabric for at least 3 years. I really love it. For some reason, lately I have been focused on using the stash of stuff that I love. My Italian yarn, for example. Now I want to make a bag out of the Roosters. Maybe I haven't given myself enough time to commit to the commitment of cutting. It has been laying on my ironing board for only a week. It took a couple of months for me to decide what to do with the Italian yarn.
I really like just standing and looking at it for a few minutes.
And really, if my Sister doesn't like the bag, it sure won't hurt me to keep it.


I just need to cut it.

Maybe tomorrow.

A positive thing about PGH

I thought I had run out of good things about the 'burgh, but it was so lovely on Thursday that I remembered another.

**Rita's. Tangerine Italian Ice. Strawberry Gelati. Chocolate Custard.
They should all have an asterick of their own. YUM.