Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Projects in July:

(I’m putting this in today because I will be talking about my writing class tomorrow.) I have been knitting socks but I will not show you them until the thirteenth of next month. I made a few more lace edged handkerchiefs. Plus the other projects I already talked about this month.

I finished the tote bag I had knitted last month when the color of handle strapping I was looking for came in. I added wide elastic inside the top to reinforce the top edge. It helps keep it from stretching out and still gets around the things you are putting into it. That is eight large size chips bags in there.

I found out that the local shop that I was selling my lace jewelry and bookmarks in is closing. I have to collect my inventory and find a new venue.

I started a February Lady Sweater. The lower lace portion is in purple and the yoke is a dark variegated purples and blues. I only had to start it over three times.

The first time I chose a size too large. The second time I put the button holes in too large. (Forgetting I had changed to smaller buttons when I decided to make it a smaller size.) And the third to make a purple border of the collar and button strip so that the variegated color didn’t run out too high on the yoke part of the sweater. It is going well now I think.
Thank you Pamela Wynne for a fine and fun sweater for big girls.

As to my weight loss. I only lost two pounds. But with Shining Son’s death day in the first week of the month I won’t beat myself up about it. I have reached the highest level of the yoga video I have been using most mornings. I still have a long way to go to get back close to the level I was at before the cancer.

I have started to use a card payment system for my food count. I went back to the old standby of calorie counting. I made up cards with different dollar denominations on them. When I eat I pay out from my available calories. When I’m out I don’t eat any more that day. When I have any left I bank them for special occasions or pig outs. It feels kind of like monopoly dinning.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On The Lack of Wheels:

We have been experiencing mobility difficulties. Our car is in the shop. Since we do not even drive it more then three times a week. And only that much occasionally. We felt that we could live without it for a few days. Even a week if we had to. We have not gotten a rental as of yet.

I have rarely felt as tied down, hemmed in, restricted and incapacitated as I do right now. Just knowing that I ‘can’t’ makes me want to all the more. I want to get out of here.

I don’t need anything. My larder is full the garden is producing fresh food. I have extra toilet paper on the shelf. I have more then enough materials for projects to keep me busy.

This of course makes me feel childish. This ‘You can’t so you want to’s.’ I want to feel evolved. Grown up. Above it all. Instead I bounce off the walls like a kid on sugar.

Would I be going anywhere? No, I have too much to do here with my crafts and canning. Would I find the time to go anywhere this past week? Not at all. I’m just too busy to go anywhere right now even if the car was working.

So why do I have an insane need to go somewhere just because I can’t?

Maybe it was because they told us it would only be a few days and has now been more then a week. Maybe because there haven’t been as many people around since the gas crunch. Maybe because I’m not as grownup as I thought I was. I’m not sure. I just know I feel the need to go.

So if you see me on the highway walking all those many miles into town, give me a wave. I gotta’ go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Pondering Death of Loved Ones:

My parents are getting older. Their health is declining and they are slowing down. My siblings don’t want to hear it. ‘Mom and Dad will die some day.’

I have been present at the death of other relatives. My grandmother, mother in law, and husband’s aunt. We were called to their bedside and sat watching and waiting until their end by natural causes. I do not shy away when death nears like the others do. I am the one that comes and holds their hand in the end so they are not alone. I have never participated in a death or helped them along. I have only watched it unfold.

There have been deaths that I did not witness but felt just as strongly. My other grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and most notably my son.

But I have yet to experience the death of a parent. It is true that I felt that my grandmother helped to raise me and was a stronger parental figure then my own parents were when I was a child. But that was a long time ago.

How will I handle the death of my parents? I still have issues with them. That in itself changes the dynamic of the relationship. I have not lived with them for most of my life. In fact, I only lived with them for sixteen years of my life and since have been at least two or more hours drive from them. We talk on the phone. See each other yearly. But what will the impact be on my life at the time of their deaths?

I was their first born, low these many years ago. And I have a distinctly different relationship with them then my siblings do. I was the practice child. They practiced on me and implemented it on the others. I was the bold and brazen child. I have learned to forgive and over look their mistakes made at my expense. But I would have liked more.

I know that some things don’t have answers. And that the answers they have won’t be good enough. And I also want forgiveness for my own infractions to them made in ignorant youth. But we don’t talk about all that when we do talk. How will I deal with all my issues with them when they are gone and I have no hope of having that conversation any longer? We don’t talk of those things, we let it lie.

My parents are in their seventies and closer to the close of their lives then ever before. They have had cancer and other illness’, accidents are more frequent. And today again I wonder. How will I handle their deaths when the time comes?

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Distractions:

I have been suffering from Distractions. I get this condition from time to time. My mind slips sideways as I am working at doing things. This results in mistakes, kafuffles, lateness and frustration.

I am generally an efficient person. I get right in there and get the job done. No fuss or muss. But lately I have been trying to get things done only to find I have to redo things. This has leaked into my crafting projects. Rip out stitches, rework projects, use up valuable time and deal with frustration in myself.

I don’t have children as an excuse. No hectic work schedule. I do have deadlines.

Lately my daily deadlines consist of: Taking my pills on time each morning, doing my exercises, getting my blog out, getting my homework done and getting food processed before it is inedible.

The first four work themselves out well. But once my day has started the food processing begins. Gathering, separating, cleaning, paring, processing, canning, cooling, wiping, labeling, and shelving. And of course cleaning up after.

This is back braking work. Hot sun, bugs, slugs, bending, pulling, hauling. Cleaning, pealing, paring, cutting, chopping, steaming, cooking. Washing jars, lids, rings. Heating jars, ladling into jars, wiping jars, lidding and ringing jars, processing jars. Preparing next batch. My mind gets dulled.

Don’t get me wrong I love canning our own food. But it is hard work with little creative mind skills involved. My mind takes off on vacation into stories in my head and mistakes follow. Distractions, self made distractions. All because I have a high creativity quotient. So now my mind seems to want to dance away even while I am creating and crafting. I have had to rip out rows and rows of knitting more then once in the last few days.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

On a Tower of Stuff:

Mountain Man likes to stack things as evidenced by his stone walls and towers.

Well the other day I left out my yoga bricks and mat after I was done doing my morning hour of yoga. And while I was blogging he couldn’t just put them away for me. Oh no, no, no, no.

He had to stack them. And that not being enough he had to gather other things around the room and add them on top.

So all day long we had a tower of stuff in the middle of the family room.

Of course it had to come down so I could do my yoga the next day. But I took a picture before I did.

Happy stacking Mountain Man. Now go back outside and finish stacking the wood pile.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Finished Knit Lace Doily:

The main difference in knitting a lace pattern and knitting lace itself is that you are knitting with thread instead of yarn. Yarn has give and forgiveness in stitch variances more readily. You have to have steady uniform stitches to make lace.

If you have a nice even stitch to your knitting you just might be ready to try knitting lace yourself. If you are not sure, give knitting cotton yarn a try first. It has less give to the yarn.

Last week on the 19th I showed you the first 12, 24 36 rounds.

Here is 48 rounds.

Done before blocking.

All 58 rounds blocked. The last edging row is crocheted. Finished size is 12 inches or 30 centimeters across.

The pattern can be found in The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework by The’r’ese de Dillmont 1884 originally in the French immediately translated and published world wide.

I have the 1972 paper back reprint by Running Press. The best sixteen dollars I spent back then. It covers most any kind of needle work. From darning to fancy embroidery, bobbin lace and tatting to knitting and crochet. Twenty sections in all. Just the fancy Victorian tassels are worth it. 700 pages with illustrations. If you like old hand made Victorian needlework? This is the book for you. Just remember some words have new meanings now over a hundred years after she wrote it.

In the knitting section she has sock/stocking making in sections. Five heals to chose from and four different toes. She explains the top, knee, leg, heel, foot and toe.

Someday I’m going to knit myself a pair of stocking. But not until I loose some more weight.

Friday, July 25, 2008

On Second Writing Class:

I needed a ride to class because our car is in the shop. I called the other woman from the first class and she graciously gave me a lift even though it was out of her way.

When we got there, a few minutes late do to collecting me, two other people had arrived before us. The teacher introduced us all around. Then a few minutes later the last to arrive that night found the place.

The class is now a mixed group. One man, four women, all of varying ages and back grounds. It is a very good group as far as writing skills go. I had my lance at the ready to bludgeon any and all offensively bad writing skills. And it came home with me having a distinct lack of blood on it. I am intrigued by the stories and poems set fourth so far and want to hear more of what they have to say and/or write.

I’m having a good time so far in class. My works seem to be going over well so far. Here is the ‘Slice of Life’ piece that I shared last night.

Autumn Air by (?) Also known As Lady Euphoria

There was a smell in the crisp cool autumn air that sent him back to his childhood. Back to school books and pencil sharpeners and chalk boards. He hadn’t thought of those days in a long time. Childhood yes, but not school. Paper and crayons, paste and scissors, desks and chairs, all filled his mind. Golden morning light landing across desks and the small dust particles in the air floating almost still.

He could feel the lunchbox in his hand. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich wrapped in wax paper, a thermos of cold milk and an apple with a paper napkin. He could feel the jacket, red and black check, just like the one his father wore for hunting. His hat, the one that matched his jacket with the ear flaps tucked inside so his friends couldn’t see it was a sissy hat was folded and tucked under his arm. He could see the tips of his new brown shoes sticking out over the well warn steps going into the building.

Where did this memory come from? It was so strong and solid. Just from a scent in the air?

He felt so grown up in his little’n years. This feeling of pride and self assurance mixed with a little bit of fear of the unknown. Life was in control and had order. Nothing truly bad was going to happen. Parents and teachers would take care of him. And the police in town had a new car to catch the bad guys, if any of them just happened to come to town. There was a picture of the President on the wall just under the American Flag, and he kept the bad guys out of the country. And if all else failed his cowboy hero would save the day. Yes all was good and right in this world.

He sat at his desk his jacket safe in the cloak room on his peg with his lunch box on the shelf above it. He was writing, no not writing, printing on a sheet of paper. The kind with the solid line, dotted line, solid line. Holding a large log of a pencil in his small hands making a mistake and having to erase it. The smell of the paper, the woody pencil and the eraser. The feeling of the smooth shiny red painted pencil and the feel of the eraser shavings under his hand felt like it was happening all over again.

It was quiet in the room. Too quiet for a room full of children but that was the way it was. The quite lay like a quilt over the entire building. The only sound of children was and occasional cough or chair scraping the floor marring the quiet now that class had started. He could hear the rustle of the teachers clothing as she came down the isle, smell the soap and deodorant and what?… Hair spray. That was the smell that brought all these memories back.

Hair spray. Now that he had identified the smell all the memories were fading and try as he might he couldn’t capture them again. He realized it had been a long time since he felt that safe and self assured.

You can’t go back to childhood.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On Happy Surprises:

I was going to show you the knitted doily today but I have other news.

I was talking to my daughter the other day about how I went shopping for a laptop and that they were all so expensive. I didn’t what or need all the bells and whistles. I just wanted a glorified portable type writer. Something I could use to write with when I wasn’t at home and then move the information back to my main computer (Rupert) for all the rest. (You know playing games, emailing friends and family.) I came home empty handed.

Yesterday the UPS guy came to the house. Princess Daughter and her boyfriend, Prince Charming, sent me something to help me out with my writing class. It’s a refurbished laptop. I love it.

I can write anywhere. You may never get me to shut up now. All the lost inspiration of the past forgotten. I can now whip out my Think Pad and write out the scene or blog idea before I loose it. With the added benefit of the weight loss from carrying it around.

Yes, I know I will have to hook it up and recharge it at times. Or even have it attached to the wall as I write. But I am no longer stuck in a dark bedroom corner full of my clutter to write.

Yes, that is my dark cluttered corner in the background of the picture of Lady Short and Lady Long on the bed.

I spent the evening sewing a new tote bag for my new friend. I want to keep it safe and all it’s gadgets together. Of course this is only for trips off of the property. The rest of the time it will be being busy helping me be brilliant. My new best friend. I think I’ll name her Gladys.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Rupert and Gladys became really good friends? Rupert is a Vista and Gladys is XP after all. We will see how far it goes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Cucumber Salad:

Yesterday the first cucumbers came in from the garden. Of course I had to pig out on them.

I make an apple vinaigrette and let it marinade in the fridge if I can leave it alone long enough.

1 cup apple juice
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon onion juice or onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste.

For a large bowl or three or more cucumbers I double the vinaigrette. I also use it for salad dressing some times too.

I wash, peel and thinly slice the cucumbers. Toss them in the vinaigrette.

For the next couple of days I’ll add fresh cucumber slices to the vinaigrette in the bowl as I use up the cucumbers in the fridge. I don’t waste a drop.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On Batting Practice:

Well I had an interesting evening. I was knitting and watching the TV when Lady Long started to whimper. I looked over at her on the bed, thinking to myself, this is strange. She thinks the bed is the best place in the world and she never complains when she is there. I go back to my knitting.

The Dog whimpers again. But this time I as I look at her I see out of the corner of my eye something flying around the room. We have a bat in the house.

I holler for Mountain Man but he is outside harvesting slugs in the garden for the fish in the pond and can’t hear me. I try to grab the dog and shut the bat in the room. But it is now dive bombing the dog. It flies out of the room and I jump up and close the door hoping it doesn’t start bothering Lady Short out there in the kitchen.

Mountain Man comes in and I holler through the door about the bat. He opens the door and shoos it out. Thankfully the thing cooperated. But then again Mountain Man has had practice over the years. We get a bat inside about once every other year.

Now I don’t have anything against bats in general. In fact I like to watch them flying over the field out back in the evening catching bugs to eat. But I do not like them trapped in the house. And when they start to get aggressive I want them gone.

I’ll take bat patterns on my clothing, bat motif on jewelry, pictures, toys, figurines, caged, and even bats in my belfry. But not bats flying around in the house.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures. Had he not bothered with the dog I would have grabbed my camera. But Bats can carry rabies so better safe then sorry.

Monday, July 21, 2008

On Epitaphs:

Lyman Atherholt: May 15th, 1863
In the service of my Country I sickened and died.
Mourn not that I thus early fell.
My God and my Country were ever my pride.
Parents, Brothers, and Sisters farewell.

Nelson Burchos: Aug 9th, 1881
When the toil and Battle is over.
When the crown is fairly won.
Then a Voice speaks up in Heaven.
Oh! Faithful one, well done.

I was in the cemetery the other day and I was reading the head stones and got an idea. Why not write a few myself? So I got started and warmed up with these four liners.

Here lies Me
My soul is Free
If you want to See
Come visit me

I’m back this time to stay
My soul is on it’s way
I’ll work no more today
Others now must mow the hay

I never had a perfect body
In fact mine was very shoddy
It went as far as it could go
And now It molders here below

As an actor I do feel
This time that my death is real
If you want to see my deal
You will have to watch my reel

You never came around before
I know I used to watch the door
I was a bore so that’s the score
So now don’t bother me no more

Then I got to thinking that other people are good or better at this and I’d like to see what you have to say.

So here are the rules for writing your own headstone epitaphs and having them shown here.

1. No more then 8 lines, but the shorter the better.
2. It doesn’t have to rhyme.
3. Just words. No pictures, cartoons etc.
4. Nothing overtly sexual, violent, disgusting, or racist will be considered.
5. Leave a name of who sent it. (It doesn’t have to be your real name.) But it will be attributed to that name. No name no entry.
6. If the words are not your own. Add the original authors name if you know it. Otherwise just add ‘Anonymous’ and add ‘Sent in by’ and your name after that.
7. Spelling counts. Please proof read it before you hit the send button.

The ones I like best will get a posting in the ‘Epitaph Spot of the Week’ on my blog. Along with a link to your blog or web sight if you have one to submit.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On TP Scarf:

Well here is the scarf. Thank you Anna Hrachovec at Mochimochi Land. It turned out better then I thought it would. I did it in 100% wool. I couldn’t resist wrapping it in tissue paper.

I reworked the pattern to my liking and left out the face. Too cute for a woman my age.

And I like the perferated row.

It is twelve sheets long. I like the 'slip the first stitch' edge, so I added a stitch to make sure I had a knit stitch on the end of each row to do it. And I made the cardboard tube a little smaller so it holds it’s shape better.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

On Knitting a Lace Doily:

Well I have some pictures of what knitting projects I’ve been up to lately.

I got to thinking after I told you that I am mastered in knitting lace and then admitted that I was now having trouble with some stitches, that maybe I should test my abilities again.

So I whipped out my double pointed #0 needles and started on a doily.

12 rounds.

24 rounds.

36 rounds. I think it's going well. I only have 22 rounds to go.

I have some other things I want to show you also. But too many pictures slows down the loading of the page. So I try to limit it to three in a day. And I’ll show you the others tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On First Writing Class Night:

Well I went to my first writing workshop class last night. It was a small group by design. But was made smaller by circumstance. Only two of us made it to the first class. The other four called and are suppose to start next week.

After the teacher (Who, by the way, is an old friend.) told us what to expect we were off. We explained who we were and why we were here, what we liked to write and for how long we have been writing.

We took turns reading portions of something we had already written or were currently working on. After it was read out loud it was gone over for mistakes, unclear parts, and things that didn’t make sense.

I read two ‘slice of life’ pieces. The first on kids having summer fun, that needed some work and the other on sitting bored at a meeting with a surprise ending that went over well. Apparently I managed to make boredom interesting even before the end.

The other woman is writing a children’s book I believe, as the main characters are preteen’s. And since I don’t have her permission to share here I’ll leave it at that. I will add that I liked what I heard and want to hear more.

We ended the evening with me being peppered with questions about Blogging. Like I’m some expert or something being at this for three months. But I was the only one there that had done it.

I have homework: Write ten minutes or more a day on any subject. And a full page piece on, Someone I find important to me.

Okay, so I stayed up late last night and did it already. Not to be a suck up. I just knew that it would turn into a novel in my head by the end of the week if I let it, so I didn’t. And the ten minutes a day is already covered since I write for at least an hour each day anyway. And that doesn’t include doing the blog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Saved By The Bell:

Yes, time for yet another death blog.

The phrase ‘Saved by the bell.’ Doesn’t mean the bell at the boxing ring like most people think. Nor by the school bell at the end of the class period.

Once people were buried soon after death and just in case they were just so sick that they appeared to be dead and were not, a string was wrapped around the hand and the other end was attached to a bell outside of the grave. A person was left to watch the grave in the night incase the bell was rung. And some people were saved in just this way.

This was also the reason that people sat with the body at the ‘wake.’ Just in case they woke up before they were buried.

The child’s skipping rhyme: ‘I had a little bird, his name was Enza, I opened up the window and in flew Enza.’ It was about the influenza epidemic during the first world war. There was no one who didn’t loose someone they knew then. After it was over so many people died that in some small communities, people were just given new spouses and children left over from families where everyone else had died to form new family groups.

Ring around the rosies, a pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
Once the ashes were originally ahchoo. The sound of the sneeze. You sneezed, you died with the flu.

God bless you! You were glad to hear it so you just might not die too.

Children would play on the piles of coffin boxes in the streets. Peacock feathers were banned from homes incase they spread the disease. Some people today won’t have them in their houses because those feathers mean death to them.

By the way, I have a vase of peacock feathers in my bedroom and have for years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Domesticities:

Mountain Man has been getting wood for the wood pile. We have wood heat. He has also been busy trying to stay ahead of the weeds in the garden.

I’ve been shelling peas and freezing berries. As the crops start coming in I get a little more domestic. Kitchen oriented.

I cruse on over to vegan yum yum on the web and drool over the food there. (Not only is she a well known cookbook writer and great blogger, she also lives next door to my daughter and Princess Daughter, also a vegetarian, just loves to munch on the extras after a photo shoot. Yummy stuff.) I just love her Knitty Cupcakes, of course mine never turn out so well in the looks department but my tongue doesn’t mind at all.

I did say I’m a vegetarian right? Well I am. Not for any other reason then health and allergies. Once upon a time I ate Bambi with the best of them. I had no trouble butchering and eating the cows we once had and their calves too. Not even the named ones. We raised them for food. That went double or the chickens. They have had their revenge. I am allergic to animal protein. No red meat, poultry or fish. And did I mention I was allergic to peanuts too. Yup, all my life.

So anyway, I’ve been in the kitchen a lot these days. This has it’s good and bad sides. We of course need to have the food put up. Canned, frozen or dried. But it puts me closer to the refrigerator. And I tend to peck away at the food in there.

Our life style is such that we try to do for ourselves and lessen the need for money. We live simply. We live with less. Did I just say that? Me with all that stuff in a sliding piles on my desk? Yes I did. I may be a clutter bug but it’s clean clutter and a small house. And I can’t think without some crafting project in my hands. I know you know what I mean.

Anyway, I am finding it harder to loose the weight being in the kitchen so much. Any suggestions on fragrances that are nice but not the thing to make me want to eat. I’d heard that green apple is a appetite suppressant smell. My trouble is I love green apples. Maybe something floral? In the mean time, Happy Berry Season everyone!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Darned Socks:

I don’t know if you will understand this but I hope you do. I like to darn socks.

The socks in the picture are Mountain Man’s mud socks. Mountain Man is very out door’sy. He is out there in all kinds of weather. So I have learned to segregate his socks into three piles Dress, Good, and Mud. ‘Dress’ sock’s need no explanation. ‘Good’ are nice clean white socks to go places in. And ‘Mud’ are the color of the ones I don’t bleach to within an inch of their lives so they can look good but the wear time is diminished by the bleaching. These are his work socks. And work socks get holes.

I love the process of filling the hole. Getting out the tools. Setting to the repair. Accomplishing the task. Darning a sock.

I take one of my darning eggs, I have a half a dozen or more, and get started. I set it in place in the sock and thread my needle with some cotton yarn with the ply’s pulled apart. A small knot on the out side to get a firm grip and off I go. Up and Down in uniform lines I start to fill the gap. I snake my needle to the side and weave away through the lines I’d laid down first. On the other side I turn and go back differing the threads. Under the ones I went over before. Over the under threads again and again.

I check to see how firm my patch is and always find some small gaps. I run the needle over two, under two until the patch is as tight as the original stockinet of the sock. I end with a small knot and neatly tuck in the tails with small stitches round the edge.

Another sock recycled for another day of gardening or rock wall building or what ever job needs to be done around here rain or shine. It’s not much in this ‘throw it away’ world but it’s one less sock in the land fill. And I just get satisfaction out of darning socks.

I would have gotten better pictures but as soon as I was done Mountain Man put them on and he is now weeding in the garden.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On July Mid Report:

Well another week starts. Maybe I should have started the silly stuff on a Monday. Still onward and upward. Giggles or Groans what’s done is done.

I don’t know what is up with me lately but I started yet another new project before finishing the others. I think it has something to do with the class I’m starting on Thursday. I’ve been feeling all little kiddish lately. That could have been what started the silly stuff too. Who knows.

As it is almost the middle of the month I’ll run down the projects so far.
Casket basket - I finally remembered to buy the dowels needed for it and was back to work on that yesterday. Throw for bed - one sixth done.

I knitted one Woodin doll (Thank you Anna Hrachovec at Mochimochi Land.) in purple cotton for the neighbors grand kidlet who was visiting. I tatted two lace handkerchief edges in purple. I crocheted more pint jar covers in still more colors. We took a trip to another two cemeteries and got more pictures. I made two things for the doll houses. And I started knitting a new scarf.

I’ve been doing more writing. Slice of life stuff in different writing styles to practice up for my class. Exercising my gray matter.

As for exercising my body. The humid weather has me cutting back a little there. Weight is steady. No up’s or down’s. Time to cut back on some more calories I think.

I added more of my music CD’s onto the computer. I’m still reading Ring World by Larry Niven in fits and starts. (It’s a Sci-fi and I do better with that in the winter. Summer is when I do more of my re-reading. I‘ll probably re-read it in the winter and not be able to but it down.) The garden is growing. The veggies are getting canned, frozen or dried as needed. Summer marches on.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On Funny Grandma Honored or Silly Day‘s

My grandmother was a witty woman. A lot of people in my family were and are. One day my Grandma’s grown nieces came with their kids to visit her. We went over to grandma’s house too and all had a good time.

A few days later Grandma noticed that someone had written on her kitchen calendar, ‘Send niece #1 $25.00’ on a date in the next month. So Grandma took it up a step and sent her $25.00 in Monopoly money. A silly thank you letter was returned.

On the pages of the next months Grandma found things like Call Kalamazoo or Take a trip to Walla Walla on the pages. These were usually on or around the 13th of the month. And monthly silly letters ensued.

My grandmother has been dead for many years now. And my mother only has a few of these letters still saved. But I have decided to renew the tradition in my grandmother’s honor. Some of them will be from my Grandmother and the rest will be from other people in my extended family.

Today being the thirteenth I’ll kick it off with: Re-fold Your Maps Day (Kindly created by my brother.)

Re-fold Your Maps Day

We all have them. Maps and large instruction sheets to projects that lay neat and orderly in a glove compartment or drawer. Some are not so neat but they all long for freedom, sun shine and fresh air. They also greatly want to sport a different look from year to year.

Don’t delay. On this Holiday of Re-fold Your Maps Day move swiftly before time runs out and collect them and your friends with their maps together for a Re-folding party.

All you need are neatly or otherwise folded maps and your two hands. (Spindles are not required.) Caution! May lead to mutilation.

Take the maps or instruction sheets and lay them out open on a flat surface. Any open outdoor space with a breeze; a lawn in the yard, a park or a park lot is a good place to start. Once flat and wrinkled from fighting with the breeze, take the two opposite corners and place them together. Continue folding in any method you desire until they are folded in a new and interesting shape.

Happy Map Re-folding Day. Now don’t forget to put it on the calendar for next year. They’ll be waiting.

Next month on the Thirteenth, Annual Socks in Sandals Convention

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On Time Travel:

So there I was strapped in to my desk chair, radiation visor down, cursing the internet. Deep Space. The Time Continuum.

I was looking at hour glasses, clocks and calendars. I guess time was on my mind. And then I stumbled on a phenomenon. This was not new to me because I had heard whisperings about it before. A long time ago before first marriages and kids, moving and starting over, family deaths and cancer.

The end of the world as we know it. (R.E.M. song dancing in my head.) I know you laugh. So did I at first. But there it is only a Google away. 122112 ! December 12, 2021. The Mayan calendar ends that day. The ancient china calendar does too. And apparently the earth will pass through the threshold of the milky way or some such thing then to emerge on the other side also turning the magnetic poles on end and messing with how things work. (Okay, I got a little over the top there.) Deep breath.

I do a body check. Yup, all there. Now what do I do with this information? Do I take it as truth and start my count down? Do I keep laughing and move along with my life? Do I try to get things right with my maker? Four years, five months, 9 days, tee hee, right All Mighty One?

But where did the time go since I was kid and first heard about this and had my whole life ahead of me. Days, weeks, months, years, decades to spend as I saw fit. I had forgotten to pay attention to the time in my hands instead of the time on the clock.

I filled it. I know I did. There were meals and cleaning, crafts and work, music and movies and vacations to take. I wrote stories. I played video games, lots of video games. I put jigsaw puzzles together. In fact I put enough jigsaw puzzles together to know that I’m a 775 piece a day puzzler. And I can still have food ready on time and the dishes washed too.

Time the only thing we cherish and it is still invisible, you can’t touch it, and you can’t buy, make or own it. Much as we try to.

How much time do we have? I’m sure I don’t know. But It makes me think. How will I choose to spend the rest of the time I have? However long that is

Friday, July 11, 2008

On Going to School:

I woke up this morning from a dream about being back in school. Eek! Yes at my age I can still invoke them. I am aware that it is because I signed up for a Writing Workshop starting Thursday night.

I went out yesterday to buy a new notebook and pens for said class. I got out my stock pile of stickers and prettied up the plain spiral five subject notebook and made it uniquely mine. I slipped on pen bumpers to cushion my fingers from the heavy use. And I sharpened some pencils. Yes, that smell permeated my nose and brought me back to childhood. Funny how smells can do that.

I was not one of those kids that did the sticker thing. Well, we didn’t have the stickers thing back then. The most was those lick and stick stars on a well done paper from the teacher. I know that you balk, stand back and say, ‘No!’ But ‘peel and stick’ stickers were not the fashion back then.

Anyway, I dreamt of halls and lockers, class rooms and chalkboards, (Yes mine were the old black slate.) people of all ages looking me up and down, sizing me up, taking my measure. Would I fit in? Was there a friend in that sea of new faces? Would I fail at some dreaded test?

I woke up in a panic, my heart racing. ‘Just a dream.’ I kept on telling myself. I wasn’t the best of students. In fact do to learning disabilities that were misunderstood back then, I was labeled retarded. Only to find out a some years later I had a genius IQ. For me ‘School’ was hell. All the way through college.

Still I’m look forward to my up coming class. Stickers hiding my previous wounds. Brave face. I’m going back to school. Apple anyone?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On My Lace Making:

I have gotten some questions on my lace making lately. And although I haven’t been doing much lace making of late because of the humidity, there are always a few projects waiting for me to get back to them. For now I’ve just been keeping to the smaller ones like in the picture.

I am a master lace maker. I have been making lace since I was a young girl. I can make 17 different kinds of old world handmade lace. And in no particular order:
1. Knit
2. Crochet
3. Irish crochet
4. Tatting
5. Tape lace - woven, bobbin
6. Tape lace - Battenburg
7. Needle made
8. Islet or Brodeur Isaac
9. Cut work
10. Drawn thread and/or Hardanger
11. Bobbin - braded, Turkish
12. Bobbin - Brussels
13. Bobbin - Torchon
14. Bobbin - Chantilly
15. Embroidered - both white and black work
16. Filet and/or Net
17. Hairpin
I have done others but not enough to be mastered in them. I have and do teach lace making classes but not as much as I used to. And at one point I repaired lace for a museum.

There is no longer a lace making guild in my area. The older women have died out and the younger ones don’t have the time for meetings.

I like all fiber arts from spinning to finished project. I have spun many kinds of fibers including wools, cottons, linen, silk, man made, and others from dog to birds feathers and human hair.

The sheep farms in the area have all left after the last farm animal Vet left the area some ten years ago. And so did my local wool supply.

My hands are not what they once were. They hurt me often and need more rest between projects. I most often go from one kind of craft to another throughout the day so I don’t over work them at one thing for too long. It takes longer for the projects to get done but at least they do get done this way.

Feel free to ask more questions if you have them. I’ll try my best to answer them. I have been thinking of selling some projects on the web at some point. But I’m not set up for that yet. I do sell locally.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On Knitting Confessions:

I have a confession to make. Not a deep dark secret or anything like that. But it does cause me consternation. “I am a Continental knitter.” There I said it. And you can put those things down that you were getting ready to throw at me. Let me explain.

I started out as an English knitter. I knitted that way for years in fact. But some things got messed up in my head with the chemo treatments or maybe the seizures and I had to learn how to do some things over again. I was taking stock of the things I could do and knitting was one of them. So I moved on to relearn the other things all over again.

When I picked up my third knitting project after the cancer treatments I was having trouble half way into the thing when the new pattern made a change I couldn‘t understand. It was then realized I was now a Continental knitter. I had been knitting that way and I hadn’t realized it until then.

I tried to relearn to knit in the English fashion but after a few stitches I find myself back in Continental. I did give it a good long try. Weeks in fact. When that became too much of a frustration I hung my head and gave into being a convert.

The consternation comes from reading patterns. I still have trouble transferring some stitches and I can’t write a pattern of my own out in the English stitch way. Sorry but my brain just doesn’t work the way it used to. So that is why I haven’t been having my patterns here for you to try for yourself.

I am an English knitting drop out. A Continental knitter. And a failed pattern sharer. If anyone knows of a place I could get a conversion of stitches list out there. I’d be very grateful. (And so, I think, would be all the other closet Continental knitters out there too.)

I want to share but I’m not about to get a bad reputation for faulty patterns when I’ve messed up in converting them.

Thanks in advance, Lady Euphoria

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On Projects Started in July:

Well here is ‘Ratty’ for lack of a better name. All felted and put together. Thank you to Karen at Spinning Goth for helping me by suggesting I wash him in the washer. It was then that I realized in the washer I use water softener. I have hard water and that is probably why it didn’t work when I tried to felt him by hand. When done, I stuffed him and put a squeaker in his nose. Squeak, squeak, eek!

After Ratty turned out so well I knitted up a pair of socks to felt, out of the same yarn. I could use some sock type slippers. I’m just waiting for the next load of Mountain Man’s jeans to accumulate in the laundry to felt them with.

I’m tatting lace for another handkerchief in purple. The next one is blue unless I get an order for another color first.

After seeing some pretty lace jam jar covers at a friends house. I crocheted my own version for the pint jars of pickles that I have on the table for lunch meals daily. I like to have something pretty on the table everyday. I am making these in several different colors of crochet cotton for different moods and these will help a lot in the pretty department without a lot of work for me. Just slip one on a pint jar and tie a bow.

The black shrug is still on the needles. I have projects for different things. Take along, in the car, doctors office, meetings, and the like projects. And the at home projects. Well the black shrug has become my knit in bed before I fall asleep project. The trouble is that lately I’ve been falling asleep soon after I get in bed and I haven’t gotten much done on it. And I’ve started a throw in a simple pattern that I’ve been doing while watching TV or DVD’s. Too big for a take along project.

Things I haven’t been doing this month: reading much, writing (Only my blogs), the doll house stuff, working outside in the yard. The exercise that I’ve been doing has taken a chunk of time out of my day. An hour of yoga, walking at least a half a mile with weights, and climbing the stair machine. I liked it better when I was peddling away on the exercise bike while I was typing away at the computer writing stories. That or crafting. I’ve done a lot of miles of lace making, knitting or crocheting on that bike or even reading. But my knees have given out on that scale. I loved getting double duty out of my time. Getting older isn’t easy.

Monday, July 7, 2008

On A Big Mitten:

On A Big Mitten:

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago. Okay, my son was seven and my daughter was five. Anyway, I was trying to find something to use up a box of yarn leftovers. The kids were on the floor playing with a game of wooden pick up sticks.

I had made the kids some extra winter hats and mittens already. And asked them, “Okay what should I knit next?” Shining Son said, “Make me a mitten.” I said, “I did already.” He said, “No, a big one that I can climb into.” We all laughed. I said, “I don’t have any circular needles only these double pointed ones for people size hats and mittens.” Shining Son got down on the floor and scooped up the game and said, “Use these.”

And that is how it got started. I used those 17 colorful pickup sticks, size 8, double pointed knitting needled to make a big mitten from the scraps. Of course I didn’t have enough scrap to finish it that year. And times being tough back then, I had to wait until other people got around to giving me their leftover yarn. And Shining Son kept on growing.

I must admit that I didn’t think about it sometimes for years before I’d hear from him asking about the mitten. I’d get it out and knit some more. Finally I bought some miss matched clearance yarn, in keeping with the rest of it, and finished it off. He was over six feet by then. But I did good. When he slipped it over his head it covered him completely. I found it on his bed at his apartment as a bed spread after he died.

The thing is seven feet from cuff to tip. I laid a yard stick on it so you could get an idea about how large it is.

Yes, I know it is not true to size in the thumb. I started the thumb separately when it was going to be smaller. No, I have never thought about making another mitten to go with it. He asked me once if I would make another if he had kids some day. But he never got that far. So it stands alone. Or I should say sits alone in a box with some of his other things. And some of those the pick up stick knitting needles are still with my other knitting needles and I used them just last month. And every time I do I remember the ‘Big Mitten.’

Sunday, July 6, 2008

On Death Day:

Today is Shining Son’s death day. I’ll go to the cemetery but it is not like my other pleasure trips. I’ll put new flowers on his grave. He is in a memorial park type of cemetery. He has a plaque with a vase in it. I was unable to give him the headstone I wanted to but what he has is nice just the same. It has a dragon and some woods on it. Things he liked.

Once upon a time Shining Son helped the homeless teens in the city where he lived. He helped them get back into school or tried to patch things up between them and their families when possible. Or got them into treatment facilities. I hope that someone else has taken his place.

I miss him still a lot. He was the child I had more in common with. We liked sci-fi TV and fantasy books, music, colonial re-enacting and had similar personalities. He lived closer to me then Princess Daughter. We had local connections. We talked on the phone every day.

He was funny and a geek, tall and teddy bearish, smart and wrote poetry. He wore glasses, patchouli, tie dye T-shirts and size 14 shoes. He had long hair in a pony tail down his back, a beard and mustache. His smile came easy but so did the tears.

On a hot July day some of his friends with a small car invited him to go swimming after work. On the way home they bought some ice-cream and shortly after getting back on the highway were hit head on by a van.

He was not the only one to die in that car, only the driver who had an air bag lived. In the back seat he still had his seat belt on but his scull was fractured to liquefy. He was dead. It took them hours to clear up the wreck and get around to notifying us. I couldn’t even donate his organs, it had been too long.

I didn’t think I would make it through the first day without him. I did get to say goodbye of sorts. The morning of the accident I was talking to him on the phone while he was at work. Before we hung up he told me “I Love You Mom. I Really love you.” I said, “I know that. I love you too.” He said, “No, You really need to know how much I love you.” By this time his friends in the break room were on the floor hooting and laughing at him saying I love you to his mommy. I could hear them in the background.

Up to that day he always would just say ‘ditto’ or ‘same here‘ after I said I love you to him when his friend were around. I thought about talking to him about going back to our original way of doing things when we talked later in the day. We never got a chance to talk again.

I Love You Shining Son. I hope to see you again someday. Until then I know that you are helping others wherever you are.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

On Why I don’t Do the Fourth:

In the year that Shining Son died, the fourth was on a Sunday. I got up early because I was doing a morning reenactment at the Battle of Wyoming Monument in the town of Wyoming PA. (Being the original Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. Not the state. Which came later from some people that moved from said Wyoming the town to the other.) (Princess Daughter was working as a counselor at a sleep away camp so wasn‘t home.) But I digress.

I called Shining Son to let him know I needed him outside and ready when I came to pick him up. There was no answer. (He had stayed out late with some friends and slept at their place.) I left late and got to the monument without him. Almost ten years ago not everyone had cell phones like they do now. We had missed each others calls.

I phoned him again when I got home. (His place was in the other direction and I had to get the car back to Mountain Man.) Shining Son was at his apartment and apologized for just missing my ride. (He didn’t have a car living in the city. It was only inconvenient on Holidays when the buses weren’t running.) I couldn’t get him because Mountain Man had our car. Shining Son was without a ride. His few friends with cars had gone camping for the weekend.

We each spent the day alone playing solitaire and talking to each other on the phone. Silence. “Well I didn’t win that one. Not even close.” Shuffle noises. Silence. “I didn’t win mine either. More shuffle noises. “I wish I could find a red nine.”

It went like that for hours while I waited for Mountain Man to get back so I could pick up Shining Son to have our small family cookout. It got later and you know I can’t remember what had kept Mountain Man now. But Shining Son and I finally gave up waiting for Mountain Man. Shining Son met up with his friends later at the fireworks.

On Monday Shining Son had to work late so he couldn’t come for dinner. And on Tuesday it was sooo hot. He and some of his friends decided to go swimming after work. He never made it home.

I spend the Fourth of July each year feeling guilty for not trying harder to see my boy that day. Or at least not having a better conversation with him while we had the chance on the phone. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. The fun is all gone from that day for me. So I stay out of the way and try not to rain on others festivities. The rest of the time try not to let opportunities slip away again.

Friday, July 4, 2008

On Independence Day:

Here in the United States we are celebrating the birth of our nation. And just because I am in a self imposed misery doesn’t mean I wish others ill.

So have a great holiday everyone. Have fun. Be safe.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

On Other Things:

I know I don’t talk about my daughter too much. Not that I don’t like to. I just know she doesn’t want me too. She has her own life and expresses herself well in her own way. I am proud of her accomplishments and goals in life. She does not need me to speak for her.

I do wish she lived closer. But she likes the big city mouse life and I’m a small country mouse. We agree to disagree on that point. Don’t get me wrong. I loved living by and going to the city when I was younger. It just isn’t where I’m at now. I am in tune with the rhythm of the growing cycle now.

I like the happiness she has found in life. Princess Daughter has friends and other family around her where she lives. Her pets are well cared for and happy too. She has a boyfriend in a long term relationship. I wish her nothing but happiness and success.

We talk a few times a week on the phone. She visits me regularly, three or four times a year. We are close.

I say this because I am not one of those mothers that in wallowing in the death of one child and forgets about the others. Yes, I have been wallowing this week. That is my way. On his birthday and the week of his death I let loose and howl. I don’t make appointments, I don’t involve myself in projects with others. I spend that time in letting out the grief that has been accumulating over the last year. And then I move on.

I’ll be back to my old self. I’ll talk about projects and stuff. But I have the luxury of this time to grieve now that I didn’t then. So bear with me. I’ll be back. If not before then on Monday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On First Memories:

This morning even before my eyes were open I found myself counting ‘Firsts.’ The first time I saw my baby. The first time he smiled at me. The first time he rolled over. First step. First day of school. First lost tooth……

Oh no! I can’t remember him loosing his first tooth any more!

The gap gets bigger. The space between him and me.

Before he died when I would forget something, I’d feel bad for a few seconds and shrug it off. “It was making room for newer memories.” I’d say. But I can’t make new memories with him now. So it is just sad. Like the chipping away of a statue eventually it looses form. I gather things like pictures together to remember things better. I keep the pieces in case they can be glued back on.

Yes, I’m getting older and also have memory problems since the chemo. I expect to loose some memories. But I try hard to hold onto the ones of Shining Son. First scraped knee. First curse work. First fight. He was not an angel. He was just a baby, a child, a teen , a man.

Pictures help some. But we didn’t have a lot of money for pictures when the kids were young. And after that I just wasn’t in the habit of taking them. Most all my memories are only in my head.

I have the first rock, a pebble really, that he picked up on his first walk out of the carriage in the neighborhood as a toddler.

I don’t have as many things as I would like because the building that his apartment was in had a fire before we could get all his things out of there.

But none of these things can replace him. I don’t look at them much any more. Each night I hope he comes to me in a dream. But there he most often comes as a child. I’d rather talk to the man.

I put away the box of things. I say goodbye again. Nothing has changed except I now know that I can’t remember him as well as I thought I did yesterday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On Sad July Days:

July has started and I am going into a blue funk. My son’s death day is coming up you see. I’ll cry easier, eat too much and I’m moody. Mountain Man doesn’t like it but he understands.

Everyone else around me is getting ready for Independence Day. Flags and fireworks are all around. These things now remind me of death. They probably always will.

I’ll try to keep myself busy. I’ll do my exercising, and clean my house but I’ll be thinking about other things. I’ll be in the past. It is the one of the only places I can visit with my first born anymore. I will be sad for a while. It’s okay. I’ll get over it all over again until next year. But this week I go back to my memories to be with him there.

I want to be all good with this, but I never get there. I may never get there but I try. How does one feel better about having to live without ones child.

I don’t cry all the time. I hardly cry at all the rest of the year. I laugh and know how to have fun. I have plans and a life. But I can no longer include my child.

This week you won’t find me at the fireworks, or the concerts in town. I won’t be carrying a flag or be at the parade. I won’t be at the ball games and all the other thing that would be part of a very Victorian Fourth of July. I won’t be around too many people at all. I’ll come out later to play. Next week maybe. For now I’ll sit in a ball and cry, and wait for the time to pass. I miss my boy.