Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today I am thankful for:

Having my family all very close to me.

That a simple plunger will fix the toilet when a whole roll's worth of toilet paper is blocking it.

Three year old boys, even when they are stopping up toilets.

Knitting group.

And a corollary to the knitting group: Golden raisin pecan scones from Mika's Coffee House (where we knit on Wednesdays).

Having a husband who is good at laundry.

Italian beef sandwiches.

It is now not completely dark outside until after 6:30 PM.

American Idol and Project Runway (pathetic, but true)

There's my Wednesday list. Nothing earth-shattering, but it was another pretty good day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sometimes even end-of-February snow is pretty

I'm not a fan of snow. It does cover up the dead landscape, but it is hard to truck the kids around in, tracks snow and general dampness into the family room, and is a general pain in the ass. But this morning, I woke up to a few inches of snow, and it was beautiful. As much as it was going to be a PITA to walk the girlie to school in it, it was pretty. The snow followed a few days of thaw and rain, so the back yard had been more like Lake Deplume. And last night's snow stuck to the branches, which allowed my eye to see beautiful white trees and not the gray sky, waiting to drop more snow on us.

I was so taken by the beauty of this meteorological event, I took my camera along on the walk to school. And as it turns out, a red brick library really stands out on a snowy morning. And that red gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. The fact that our local librarians know mine and my kids' names, and is less than two blocks from my house might have something to do with that, though, as well.

Once we got back from the school walk, Nige decided that he wanted to play in the back yard. It had begun snowing again by this point, and his three-year-old self was in seventh heaven. I let him, of course, and kept the camera at the ready. A few minutes later, he was sitting atop the slide, with 4 inches of snow obscuring his descent. He sat up there for a few minutes, telling me that he was a little scared. I explained that it was just fluffy snow, and it isn't scary. Luckily he believed me, and slid on down. It was quite a ride, shoving all that snow off the plastic slide with his butt.

He had a fun time, but bore a striking resemblance to the abominable snowman by the time I convinced him to come inside. It was a good day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I've run out of gratitude

This is what- day 7? And I've run out of things to blog about being grateful for. It's not that I'm not grateful for many things, it's mostly that I feel stupid blathering on about being glad I have a Tivo so I can avoid commercials, enough blankets so I can watch TV without catching a chill in my old and drafty house, or kids who are funny even when they are being naughty.

So here I sit, looking for profound gratitude, and it's just not coming to me. (And I've picked up neither knitting needles nor crochet hook in two days.) So, instead, I'll tell you all a funny story (funny to me, and worth remembering, but you may disagree. That's okay-- I don't expect you to giggle).

Back story: Many people, Mr Deplume's dad especially, really rely on their GPS units to get them from point A to point B. Sometimes, even with the GPS units working for him, he still makes makes errors in his travels. I've heard others mention that they simply could not live without them.

Today: We are getting ready to travel to Chicago soon. DH walks into the kitchen tonight, holding three pages of printed Google map/directions. He looks at me and says, "I've got the TomTom here for us."

I said, "Good. I don't think we could make it there without one."

"I just need one thing. While we're driving, you need to read these to me in an Australian accent."

"Sorry, the only accent I can do is Indian." I wondered even how good my Indian accent was, and tried a 'turrn right herr at de next corner' for him.

"You'll also have to say 'Tank you, come again' a lot." He replies.

I pondered that for a minute. "I think I only need to go with 'come again' if I'm doing an Apu impression. I don't think most Indians say that any more than anyone else."

"Okay. Just work on the accent before tomorrow, okay? I just don't think I can get there with the directions in Midwestern English."

"Fair Enough, Schmoopy."

And I went back to cooking dinner. I love my guy. And I love that all my hours of solitarily (is that a word?) watching Bollywood films has finally paid off.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Roses and Roller Rinks

I read a blog today about my friend taking her daughter to a skating rink. Roller rinks are smelly, loud, and really boring for anyone not in skates. I opined that I just might not love my kids enough to take them to go skating-- the two hours of watching a child go round and round the floor it more than I could bear. I then suddenly teleported back in time to the many Saturdays I spent at Washington Skateland. It had a portrait of our first President on the outside, and carpeted benches and neon lights inside. The "pro shop" would sell you fluorescent laces and fuzzy pom poms for the skates. The disco music was loud and tinny. And of course there was a mirrored ball in the center.

And who took me? My Grandma Bug. My sister and I spent lots of weekends with them. So many fond memories of those weekends; Grandpa would pick us up after work on Friday afternoon, and drive us to their farm in his big red Chevrolet, no air conditioning, Cubs game on the AM radio. If we were really lucky, he'd stop by the KFC on the way home. Grandma worked for the Red Cross, and wouldn't usually be home until late that night. Then Saturday, we'd do farm stuff, that is, until I turned about 10, when I learned to roller skate.

So Grandma would drive me there Saturday morning, and sit for two hours straight (sometimes more), in the noisy stinky blinky rink, watching me roll around in circles. I don't remember her bringing a book, but I certainly hope she did. I still don't think I love my children enough to routinely take them to a place like that (I've already vetoed the chance of ever taking the kids to Chuck E Cheese again), but I hope that when I'm a Grandmother, I'll have such a close relationship with my grandkids. I'm truly grateful that I knew them so well for so long.

Speaking of Grandma, I recently took this picture of an afghan she crocheted back when she was a home-duty nurse, and have been meaning to post it. I love this throw. It proudly sits on the back of the sofa she gave to me last year. I love the sofa too-- it has become known around here as Mommy's Special Couch.

"Don't climb on the back of Mommy's Special Couch."
"Put the cushions back on Mommy's Special Couch."
"No markers within 10 feet of Mommy's Special Couch!"

Anyway, enough of the reminiscing. Here's the throw, and the couch. I'll get back to yarnier content tomorrow. I hope. ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunny and cold with a side of Awesome

It was 4.8 degrees (Farenheit) out this morning. I drove the girl to school. As militant as I am about walking the three blocks to school in the morning instead of wasting gasoline and polluting the air, 5 is really really cold. I'm happy that our trusty little car started this morning and got us to school sans frostbite. We'll probably walk to story time at the Library this afternoon, though. It's only a block-and-a-half away and the temp should have risen to a balmy 15 by then. And it's sunny. A good dose of Vitamin D and fresh air is good for the soul.

You know what else is good for the soul? Laughter. And Mr. Deplume and I have had no shortage of laughter in our lives since I found this:

Yes, there is a whole line of Awesome products at Cub Foods. I snickered when I found it in the grocery aisle, and it causes a little giddy glee each time I take the box from the drawer and pull out a length of its awesome shiny film. Who thought up the brand name "Awesome"? Whoever it is, I'm like to thank him or her. Or them. Do you suppose it was a whole committee at the household products company that came up with it? Or is there a company named "Awesome Products"? However it was named, it is like, totally genius.

Now onto the non-genius stuff; the shawl that I made for my girl. It is fraught with mistakes, including a general misunderstanding of how how crochet. But I learned a lot while making it, and it is soft and purple and Miss Nora likes it.

Pattern: Half-Moon Shawl
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in "Grape"
Hook: H/5.0 mm

Monday, February 18, 2008

Today I am grateful for...

The Thesaurus. In reading my post from yesterday, I realized that I used the word "fancy" no less than 6 times. SIX. That's too many. If I had only utilized one of the many thesauruses at my fingertips, I could have replaced at least 4 of the instances of "fancy" with synonyms like fantastic, wonderful, marvelous or grand.

I'm also grateful that none of my friends have deigned to point it out to me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An embarrassment of riches

Our television is dying what seems to be a slow and painful death. A couple of weeks ago, it started taking longer to turn on in the morning. As the TV-plague progresses, it causes the picture to blink on and off an increasing number of times before it becomes watchable. Sometimes it just won't turn on at all, and we have to turn in it off and try again later. It is a most irritating malady.

So we've begun the search for a new television. Mr. Deplume and I have looked at HDTVs, regular TVs, LCDs and anything in between. Our options are this: buy a regular old tube TV, for a couple of hundred bucks, an HD tube TV for a couple hundred more than that, or a fancy flat screen for yet another few hundred. We've ruled out the HD tube tv, because it is so heavy that we'd need to buy a new stand for it, taking away any savings over the fancy one. So we have to decide on a plain old television that shows the shows, or a fancy one that shows the shows, only much better.

We've always maintained that HDTV is a silly concept, and that the glory of high-definition is just lost on us. But we find outselves drawn to the bright shiny flat screen gorgeousness. But here's the rub: we're cheap. We are really very frugal, and do our best to avoid the consumerism that runs so rampant in our society.

So we're faced with this horrible moral dilemma: do we spend $450 more on a fancy HD television, when a regular old tv will do? If I have that $450 and am willing to part with it, why is it okay not to do some good in the world with it? The food pantry could buy lots of groceries with that. The church could heat the building or pay for programs with that. That money, given to Heifer International could buy sheep or llamas or a cow for a family in a poverty-stricken country.

But I really want the fancy TV.

In thinking and praying on this today (yes, I'm praying about a TV-- wanna make something of it?!?), I'm beginning that I need to give away something to help someone else before I can splurge on a silly want of my own. I'm so grateful to have enough money in the bank that these things are even a possibility. It wasn't all that long ago that we were trying to figure out how to pay the gas bill and also clothe our growing baby girl.

Will Norm's family get the fancy HDTV? Will she learn to get over it and enjoy her current station in life? Will she ever finish the sweater she's working on? These questions and more will be answered in the coming weeks.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I've been doing it wrong

I was so sure that I was the quickest crochet study on the planet. A prodigy, if you will. But then last night, I came to a realization: I've been doing it wrong. I know a few posts ago I talked about doing it wrong in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but this time I mean it. How embarrassing. I've been only picking up the front loop of the stitch, à la knitting. I didn't realize until last night that you're supposed to pick up both loops. argh. The worst part is that I realized it AFTER asking a really stupid bonehead question about it in public. On Ravelry, the single-largest conglomeration of fiber folk on the planet. What a maroon I am.

I hate being a maroon.

But at least I can be grateful that I've figured out the right way to do it for the future. Off to pick a pattern for the next project. I'm so very addicted to yarn (I'm obviously also grateful for sheep).

Friday, February 15, 2008

30 days of Gratitude

I was inspired by my dear friend Joy to post here for 30 days with the focus being gratitude. I of course jumped at the idea. I know that remembering to be grateful for the bazillion quintrillion gifts that have been given to me is key to my happiness in life. So here I go.

The very first thing that pops into my mind in this Month of Thanks-Giving is to be truly grateful for the few good close friends I have in this world. My husband is of course my bestest buddy in the world, and he is worth his weight in gold (or artisan beer, as it were). I'm also really blessed to have friends like Joy. I was fortunate to have a "girls' weekend" with her and two others last summer. It was some of the most edifying debauchery on record. I wish she didn't live so far away, contactable only by Interwebs, but I am happy that I have the internet to keep me close to teeny tiny circle of really great friends.

So there it is, day one of being thankful for stuff. I do need to note here that it is sunny, and my hands are feeling better too. I'm just a bundle of blessings today, eh? I need to stop now though, I don't want to run out of ideas before my 30 days is up.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In which I hurt myself

YSHA* will be here this afternoon to conduct its investigation. It's all very tragic (and painful), but I'll try to recount the events of yesterday so you can all learn from my mistakes.

Yesterday at 8 AM, I saw this on Ravelry, and realized that Nora's (store bought Princess) Valentines for the big kindergarten V-day party were woefully inadequate. They simply would not do. She'd be the laughing stock of her class. So I immediately set out to make hearts for her 14 classmates.

This would not have been a problem, except that my church's knitting group meets on Wednesday mornings. So I packed up my stuff and The Nige, and we went to the coffee shop for cookies and coffee and yarn. There, I worked on Nora's purple shawl for 2 hours. Kinda. When at a coffee shop with a 3-year-old, there's as much kid wrangling as there is knitting or crocheting. Maybe more.

So when we got home, I had to sit down and make 13 hearts (the first had been made at 8am, about 5 minutes after the first pattern sighting). I picked out some boyish yarns, some girlish yarns, and got to work. This is where the pain comes in. When working with teeny projects, it turns out that I hold the work very tightly with my left thumb and middle finger. So by 4 PM, my left thumb was atrophied and generally useless. My right wrist was tender, but not all that bad, considering the excessive crochet to which it had been subjected.

And then I got up to move a plastic file box full of art supplies. My right hand, in its weakened state, slipped off the top of the box, pulling my right fingernail back ever so slightly. You know how sometimes you hurt yourself and don't really know it until later? This is one of those times. As the night wore on, My hands began to wither and throb. My index finger is bruised, my knuckles are stiff, and my left thumb is still not working.

But look how cute they are. It was worth it, right?

Pattern: Crochet Valentine from Crochet Today
Hook: G/4.0 mm
Yarn: leftovers and vintage wool from the charity shop.

Note: In a lovely instance of serendipity, I already had a stack of crochet books checked out from the library, and now I can read them without feeling the urge to break out the yarn and sticks or hooks.

*Yarnitational Safety and Health Administration

Friday, February 08, 2008

I've lost my mojo

First, I lost half a skein of yarn to tangles. And I dropped 6 stitches about 5 rows down on the sock I was working on (still sitting waiting for me to fix or give up). Then the hat I crocheted for my Girl was small enough to fit her Cabbage Patch doll. Now this:

It's a skinny scarf made of recycled sari silk held together with a navy blue acrylic. I figured the navy yarn would tone down the loudness of the silk, while stabilizing the too-thin spots in the yarn. In my head, it would be a fun accessory when I'm wearing a plain outfit. I'd look quite artsy fartsy in it.


Instead, it weighs 4.3 metric tonnes, curls in spite of the garter stitch edge, and the worst part is where I went to the second skein:

One end looks a little like my original vision. The other end looks like a pile of neon dryer lint. It is hideous. So now I have to decide the fate of this travesty of knits. Do I attempt to fix it (but HOW?), or do I sew it up, stuff it, put googly eyes on it and call it a fuzzy snake? Le sigh.

To top all of this off, I have been driving Nora to school because the little guy's stroller lost a wheel last week. I think it's fixable, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. This morning, I got the kids strapped into their seats, insert the key into the ignition, turn, and hear a deafening silence. Not even a sad click. Battery is d-e-d dead. No choice but to try to fix the stroller in the 30-degree garage. I fiddled with it for a few minutes, then realized that my fingers would freeze and Nora would be tardy to school long before I figured out the fix. So I picked up the Nige and off we went. Thanks to the snow covering everyone's sidewalks, we had to walk in the street amidst the school buses, high schoolers speeding to school, and a garbage truck.

We made it to school in time, and when I got back home I plugged the car into the charger, wheeled the stroller into the family room, and sat down here to warm up. Now I'm warm, so I need to go work on the stroller. Or maybe just ignore it and let Mr. Deplume cuss at it when he gets home. Yeah, that sounds like a better plan (sorry, Honey).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yeee-uck, times two.

After my last post, the snow continued to melt, and the rain continued to fall. We ended up renaming our back yard "Lake Deplume." There is 2 inches of standing water in several places where lawn used to be. Then this morning, the snow started to fall again. Now I have two inches of 32-degree water, with two inches of snow on top. Then the temperature will drop tonight, turning the town into a skating rink. Lovely.

I am, however, blessed that I'm not in the South, where tornadoes lurk behind every cloud. I'm used to living in tornado alley in the spring and summer, but February twisters are just wrong. I saw a lady on the news who hid in the basement during the tornado, and came back up to find her entire house simply gone. She had not been able to find out yet if any of her horses or her dog had survived. It was heartbreaking.

Sorry for the downer. I'm just buried under a thick layer of cabin fever here, and it is starting to affect my brain. I have been knitting (and crocheting too), but have no decent light right now to snap pictures of anything. They promise sun for tomorrow, so maybe I can venture onto the front porch for some WIP shots then.

I was trying to type something else interesting here, but I got nuttin'. So I'm shutting off the computer and going to go knit a little.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Last Friday we got 6 inches of snow. The kids and Daddy built a snowman. Now it is three days later, we've got rain and fog. And slush everywhere. Blech. And our poor snowman is shrinking. At least we have a good portrait of him in his youth.

I made some more progress on the crocheted half-moon shawl, but then last night, at the beginning of the 4th quarter of the Superbowl, tragedy struck. Yep, my worst enemy reared its ugly hea:, yarn barf. I worked at it for way too long, and I don't know if I made it better or worse. If I had a Wal-Mart close by, I'd just go buy a new skein of Simply Soft and be done with it. I might still do that. But not today. I'll instead work on cleaning the house. urgh.