Friday, December 26, 2008

The Holiday Jackpot

I think I won! I scored Sock Monkey Slippers, which I had seen and wanted, but could not justify as a necessity. I was also lucky enough to receive four skeins of Bamboo Spun yarn in Sea Blue, a cute casual beaded handbag with a wood handle, some great kitchen toys and a nice bottle of wine (with wine charms!), and a new sweatshirt in OU colors to replace the one I have worn to death. There were candles and cookies, a teddy bear, and lots of hugs and laughs. I received the 2009 Pattern a Day calendar in case I run out of inspiration.

I got to visit with my in-laws, and then a pleasant dinner out with my children. A lovely day, in all. Shana and I opened our gifts early and then went straight to the kitchen to make our brunch. Just two days before we finally got our oven issue settled on the third service call so we had two available ovens. We'd planned out all kinds of strategies to make a single smallish oven do the job, but it was so much better to have two. We went with ham, grits casserole with cheese, rice salad and a green salad, so there was not a lot of last minute fussing that needed to be done. Since we had two ovens available I could make the turkey shaped bundt cake (we call it the Turkey Butt Cake) Christmas morning for maximum freshness. As it turned out no one had room or time for desert, so Shana and I will be enjoying the turkey butt cake ourselves. Luckily it freezes beautifully, so we can get the full benefit of the cake without compromising too much on our after Christmas fitness and diet goals. I am sending the remaining cookies out of the house before I eat every one of them myself. After brunch Shana, her dad, and I went out visiting. We had decided to use paper plates instead of washing dishes this year. It turned out to be the right decision. We used some really festive plates and lots of sparkle on the table. Although I love seeing our table set with china and crystal and my best linens, it sure was easier to keep things moving on a busy day when we did not have piles of hand washing to do afterward.

When we got back it was time for me to dash out for presents and dinner with Sam and Alex. We've been going out to eat at Christmas for a few years and it's something we have really enjoyed. Usually Dennis joins us but he was not able to this year; Samantha took a meal home for him instead. Vivian has figured out the charms of the camera and now although you might get the look of intense suspicion for the first shot, you get the giant "look at every one of my teeth" smile for all subsequent pictures.

Shana and I are going shopping for presents for each other this weekend and have decided that instead of surprising each other it would be more fun go together to pick things to enhance our outdoor activities. I'm hoping to score some hiking pants. The Oklahoma climate is very warm, but I don't like hiking in shorts through cactus, rocks, and snakes! Jeans are so hot and take so long to dry that I am eager to upgrade to a more practical choice. Shana was planning to buy another dutch oven, but since her dad got her loads of cast iron campfire cookware she's undecided about what she'll be looking for.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa (and) Baby

Logan had his first visit with Santa Claus this year. He looks really serious in this picture, but according to his mom, he was very happy to visit with Santa, but the efforts of Mom and Santa's Helper to make him look at them and smile made him very annoyed. He's just a Very Serious Boy.

I am actually finished with everything now (and not a moment too soon). All I have to do is put my cookie trays together and bake the traditional Turkey Butt Cake for our Christmas brunch. Dinner with the kids and their dad had to be moved to Christmas evening because Alex has to work tonight (the joys of a retail job). Tomorrow will be a busy day. Friday I have hopes of a knit-in with one of my friends who has a yen to learn, and coffee later to the local Starbucks, or maybe The Red Cup, which has the advantage of being locally owned and next door to a very nice yarn store.

I made Shelley some sparkly knit earrings this year - no time to knit her a pair of socks, but maybe the next best thing? For about a minute I had the mad idea to knit a similar pair for Shana but I came to my senses. They are not exactly her style. I will definitely make myself a pair though. Not too hard once you figure it out, and very pretty.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gauge is a Big Fat Liar

There's a rash of babies due at my office, and I don't have the stomach (or wrists) to craft up a blankie for every one of them. I do like to make a little something, and have a realistic idea of how often those adorable booties really get worn. This leaves hats as the obvious choice. They are cute, quick, and inexpensive to make. I looked at many a book, and decided upon Baby Beanies by Amanda Keeys as the ideal book for me. It has lots of easy and cute patterns sized from newborn to 2 years+. I had a request for a baby hat to be a Christmas gift. I had a type of cap in mind and after first choosing an unsuitable yarn and having to rip, I got started on what I thought might be the final version. The cutie in question is kind of a big baby, and based on his current weight I selected a size that should be suitable for a one year old. It seemed big. I checked my gauge. Twice. I proceeded to make a cap that fit Shana pretty well, and in fact would cover my own largish head although not in a flattering way. I proceeded to make another in the next smaller size, which I sent away before taking a picture, which is rather a shame because it ended up not resembling the pattern in any way but was pretty much the exact hat I was imagining. I do recommend this book, but be aware that Gauge is a Big Fat Liar. I know that garter stitch is stretchy, and that baby heads are disproportionately large, but this was just laughable.

Today was the day for Shana to take Aunt Rita out to do her Christmas shopping. This is something she's been doing for many years, and it's down to a very tight routine. It always happens on the last or next to last weekend before Christmas. There is a list of socks and underwear in various sizes and forms for everyone. If Rita gets me a gift she selects freely from candles, with occasional ventures into house shoes. Some years Nancy has time to help her make gifts, so less shopping is needed. Shana usually takes her to Target, and tries to get out early to avoid fighting with a crowd. I went along this time because I had one more gift item to pick up and I needed shoe polish and face soap (I lead a riveting life). I also wanted to memorialize the yearly occasion when Aunt Rita opens her wallet. It's something of a family joke that Rita has more money than anyone because she never spends any. It's actually about half true, and she has mastered the slow fumble and the "forgotten" wallet perfectly.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm not Dead (yet)

But I am sure not posting as often as I like. When I spent most of October slaving over the gorgeous but demanding Peacock Feathers Shawl I doomed myself to panic knitting for the very few handknits I had committed to. I was feeling OK about that, until it sunk in that I did have a handknit that needed to be in the mail in time to reach the recipient for Christmas. DUH. I lost track of the date and finished one item up at the last possible second & went straight out to the post office 20 minutes before closing. Now I'm down to one sock and one baby hat and I think it can be done. Maybe. I started the hat twice. The first time I was getting a wonky gauge AND my initial choice of yarn was turning out to be ugly and itchy. I think the second incarnation will be very cute.

Even though I has down to the wire with my knitting I agreed to have Vivian spend the evening with me last Sunday. It was worth every minute of craziness to have her over to visit. I had the mad thought before I picked her up that I might be able to get in a few rows while she was here but of course that was not possible. She was running around getting into everything, and it quickly became obvious that if I whipped out the knitting she would be right there taking it apart. She was wearing little pink boots that she loved so much that I could not get her to take them off even to take a nap.

Baking starts today, although I probably won't be getting everything done today. I have only one small oven to work with - Oven Man (my hero) is coming Tuesday for the third visit to get the upper oven repaired. It won't help my cookie extravaganza, but we'll have two ovens in operation on Christmas Day, which makes out planning for our brunch much easier. Typical for this year of having all of our holiday out of whack, we don't even have our ham yet.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

And a View of Bournes Pond Road

Bourne's Pond Road is one of my favorite roads. It's sand and not really paved, so it's full of ruts and gets loads of big puddles when it rains. It's narrow, and heavily wooded on both sides with very few street lights - a perfect road for a walk. In addition to the visual appeal, there is also the scent of pine and if you choose your time carefully you can hear the fog horn in Falmouth. Like most of my favorite walks, Bourne's Pond Road is also full of the memories of years and years of walks at all times of the year and in all weathers. The day I took this particular picture was the day Shana and I got married. The justice of the Peace was due in about an hour and we took a minute to get out for a relaxing little stroll. Then we went inside to dress up for the wedding while Lisa put the finishing touches on our cake.

The wedding was perfect. It was very simple and easy, just as we had hoped. Inace had everything arranged perfectly so it was (almost) effortless. A little champagne and sandwiches, a bite of cake, and it was off to our honeymoon weekend in Provincetown. We have loads of pictures over on the Flickr gallery of our whole trip.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The View From Bourne's Pond Road

We're back in Falmouth and went over to City Hall to proofread our marriage license. Typically, my 2's were read as 8's for my zip code, and Mom's maiden name received an undeserved H. Otherwise all looked correct, and it was exciting to see the first version of our official document. All that remains now is to plan when to play our music. Thanksgiving dinner prep is underway - the house already smells deliciously festive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fly By Post

We're having a blast in Massachusetts. After a visit to Falmouth City Hall to apply for our marriage liscense we rode in to Boston on the bus, then lunch and shopping on Newbury Street. We started our evening with a delicious Italian dinner at Giacomo's followed up with a trip to Mike's Pastry. Not only does Mike's have the most delicious canolis, but their case of marzipan is so beautiful you could hang a picture of it on the wall. A quick walk and an after dinner drink at an Irish pub across the street from our hotel made for a perfect evening.

Off to bed, with a visit to Boston's Aquarium planned for the morning. We are staying at the Harborside Inn, which I thoroughly recommend. The location is great: walking distance from Faneuil and the North End (and a couple a great pubs). The rates are great and the rooms are nice, including very nice firm beds.

Tuesday was rainy, so indoor activities were the order of the day. We went to the New England Aquarium first, where we enjoyed the penguins and a terrific display of jellyfish, then on to the Imaxx program on dolphins and whales. After seeing the sea life it was time to eat some of it - a delicious lunch at Legal Seafood where I revised my standard for clams upward. Next on our list was the new Institute of Contemporary Art. It is not a very big gallery, but very interesting and the way the various pieces were displayed with plenty of breathing space allowed showed them off to great advantage. I seldom have a chance to see installations, so this was a treat. There was an interesting exhibition of Tara Donovan's work that Shana and I both loved. Philistine that I am I did snap a quick picture of Shana with an installation featuring thousands of plastic cups before the guards told me "no".

Friday, November 21, 2008

On My Way Out of Town

I leave for Cape Cod tomorrow, but I hate to head out for the week without a peek at Miss Vivian. I stopped by this afternoon for a visit in the middle of my round of travel related errands and took a couple of pictures. This was a really good thing, as without trying to take a few pictures of Vivian I would not have realized that I had left the memory card for my camera in the computer. I would have been limited to a (very) few pictures of my trip and the wedding, or be doomed to go to Walmart while on vacation. This is something I try very hard to avoid. While in Florida we do tend to make a daily pilgrimage to CVS, but in Massachusetts we seldom go to any store we can visit at home.

I arrived at the end of lunch time and she was in a great mood. Vivian knows a fair number of words, but apparently only uses them for her daddy. Mom and I get smiles, kisses, giggles, and all sorts of fun stuff, but almost no talking. Jamie told me she has to hide around the corner and listen to hear any of her words.

Logan got his first real pair of shoes and he is not happy. Looks like he had intended to continue as Mommy's Barefoot Boy forever! Too bad. He'll have to be civilized. Of course it's possible he just does not like those shoes. Vivian was much happier to wear sparkly pink shoes!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Counting down to Cape Cod

We'll be on Cape Cod in less than a week. This will mean a much longed for vacation, in addition to our wedding. I think all the plans are (more or less) in place, excepting only dinner reservations for Friday night. We've started checking the weather reports for Falmouth and comparing them to available clothing items. I'll be making little piles on my bed all week, adding and subtracting from them as my mood and plans change. What I do know for sure is that I will not end up packing what I need. If I pack jeans I will want to wear sweats. If I pack sweats I will want something dressy. I'm an experienced traveler, and I really can pack a carry on bag to serve my needs for a week. It's when I pack a little more that I get into trouble. Luckily we'll be staying with family, and anything I do not bring Inace will be good enough to loan me.

Traveling knitting will probably be socks in progress for the very few who will be lucky enough to receive Christmas knitting. A lot of what would have been gift knitting time was devoted to the Peacock Feathers Shawl, and I think this year I will not attempt to kill myself with gift projects. I have a few started, and those few I will finish, but I'm going to take it easy on myself. Also I have yarn in my stash I bought last year for a pretty new scarf for myself. I'll be taking that, or the scarf itself (in progress now), to the cape with me. I've got yarn stashed for a sweater, three shawls: two lacy masterpieces, and one destined to be a simple pattern made up in exceptionally beautiful yarn. I don't see any way I will get to these as long as I devote months and months to gift knitting. There is also the matter of a baby blanket or two to churn out before next spring for which I think I have enough yarn. I'm just not fast. My yarn stash is not large by the standard of most knitters. It's generous in sock yarn, and there are a few skeins of Wool-Ease purchased on extreme clearance and stashed in expectation of turning it into hats and mitts. The yarn pictured here does not include a paper grocery bag of acrylic destined to turn into baby blankets and amigurumi and about half that amount of sock yarn leftovers too good to throw away which will probably make its way into some kind of a scrap afghan, amigurumi, or baby hats. Still, I picked up most of it in eager anticipation of starting some really nice projects and I am ready to get them under way.

Now that the election is over I'm stepping away from politics for a minute, and have been especially interested in websites and podcasts of a scientific nature. Some of the concepts make my head hurt, but the ideas are fascinating. If you have time to spare click on over to The Daily Galaxy for a very cool smorgasbord of interesting scientific topics. For varied content less scientific and more pop culture, try Boing Boing for interesting articles and links (some, I must admit, are of a low and vulgar nature, but you'll have a warning before you click on any NSFW links).
In other news of general interest, Furnace Wars has ended at my house. The temperature inside the house had finally dropped below 60 and the dog was cold. I took pity on her old and cranky self and let Shana turn on the heat at last. I surrendered.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rainy Monday at home

Last weekend was a busy one, and I had planned to put up a post on Sunday to detail the festivities but I was prevented by what appeared to be a terrible case of food poisoning. Instead of posting I spent the day in bed listening to movies with one ear and sleeping. Out of Africa is a favorite for that kind of day. It's long, not too loud, and I've seen it so often I don't really need to look at it. I did not feel well enough to read anything except magazines. I'm staying at home today just in case - I don't feel great yet and I don't want a repetition of yesterday's experience.

Vivian came to spend the night Friday. I must admit I was a little dubious, as she's only been here overnight once before, and that ended up being a night with very little sleep for either of us. My plan this time was to set up her portacrib in my craft room so that I would not disturb her sleep, nor she mine. I put her down early; she shrieked for 3 minutes, then quiet reigned until Roxy woke her up in the morning a bit earlier than her usual time. Vivian took a little nap on my lap later in the morning to make up for the short night. It was fun to have her over, and a nice distraction for Rita, who was otherwise obsessing over the wedding to take place later in the weekend. I was able to get Shana's pants pinned up while Vivian was there (no one would believe how fast a child who just saw scissors can move), and got back from taking her home in plenty of time to get the pants hemmed and for all of us to get ready for Kate Humphries' wedding.

The wedding was beautiful, and the reception a lot of fun. It was fun to see everyone dressed up for the occasion. Typical of Oklahoma weddings, there were periodic announcements of the evening's college football scores, and the groom's cake was a representation of Pistol Pete, mascot of Oklahoma State University.

Like all weddings, or other family gatherings, it's a combination of happiness and sadness to see everyone. Some are looking good and doing well, others have suffered sad reverses in health since the last time we met. It's a little hard to believe that Katie is all grown up now; I can all too easily remember her as a pre teen.

Now that all wedding projects are done I can turn to the combination of Christmas projects and other plans that have been set aside. The blue baby blanket is finished and wrapped around the intended recipient.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cast Off From Peacock Island

The epic knitting of the Peacock Feathers shawl, including cast off, was completed Sunday night at 11 pm. I blocked it last night, and it's gorgeous.

I washed it last night and rolled it up in a towel to get some of the water out of it. I left it rolled up at the back of my bathroom counter out of reach of the wet-wool-loving- dog until I was ready to pin it out. Imagine my distress when I went into the bathroom to find it unwrapped and laying on the floor. The Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie had gotten it down. My heart sank - would it have a big hole in it like she left in my slouch hat?

I pinned it out on my bedroom floor. Shana watched the process with interest as my beautiful shawl emerged from the mass of wet wool. She had to leave the room several times because my tugging on it was making her nervous. No giant chewed up hole appeared. This is why Roxy was still alive this morning.

Instead of the straight bottom edge it's generally blocked out to I went with a more scalloped edge that I think brings out the "feathery" look more. I think it worked out well, and I can always reblock it without the scallops if I change my mind. Watching the blocking, Shana now understands why I don't make lace shawls as gifts. They simply take too long to knit, and have to be blocked out with 55,000 pins any time you wash them. No matter how appreciative a recipient may be of their beauty, I think she would be cursing my name when she tried to pin one out.

Some final thoughts on the project: I do have errors that I did not go back and fix. In a few rows my decreases did not line up exactly. I was concerned that they would be really obvious, but not enough to tink back to them. I generally corrected the position in the next repeat and went on. In the blocking I was able to "fake" them into line a little better where they were obvious. I can see them when I am looking for them, but are otherwise not obtrusive. I counted every repeat every time on both sides, and had the stitch numbers on a sticky above every row through the whole shawl. I have come to terms with my inability to memorize lace repeats, and in any event every row was different on this particular project. The yarn, Super Due Merino from Madil, is very fine and did not bloom noticeably on washing. It shows off the pattern beautifully.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Running By, Chased by a Peacock

I have been sucked into the black hole of knitting that is my Peacock Feathers Shawl to the exclusion of every other activity. Every night I am at it for (at least) two hours, lots more on the weekend, accompanied by repeated viewings of all nine hours of LOTR. I do not understand how those happy few who have knit it in only two weeks accomplished it. I cast on August 16. To be fair I restarted after a disastrous beginning, then set it aside for a bit after my cycling crash. For at least a month I have had it broken down by how many rows a day I had to churn out to meet my deadline. I'm sticking to it, with next Thursday night being the the "drop dead" date. Today I finally hit the single digits in rows yet to go, which I celebrated by knitting two repeats of the pattern backwards after the center point. I am now tinking back to where I was when it was last going the right way. Lucky for me (not) I was knitting a row with lots of yarn overs and left leaning decreases. My favorites to rip out. I was thinking that I might be able to finish the knitting by tomorrow evening, and might still be able to reach that goal if the ripping and restarting of this half row does not take too long.

I did take a couple of days off of my knitting last weekend to go camping. We'll be out of the season for it soon enough, and Shana and I have both really wanted the quiet time away from everything. Last weekend the weather was just about perfect, so we took advantage of it to get away from town. I went down right after work Friday to be sure of getting a campsite, which gave me ample opportunity to walk around on the bluff by myself. It's so refreshing to be up there in the afternoon by myself, when the loudest sound to be heard is birdsong and wind. We got to hear lots of elk bugling at night, and not only did we hear coyotes, we even saw one. She was on her way to the Coyote Cafe, otherwise known as "Prairie Dog Village". We took our mountain bikes with us this time, and although we did not do any offroad cycling I was glad to have a little time to get used to that bike. We had the clear starry nights that I love so much out away from the light pollution of the city. Saturday afternoon instead of motoring into town to watch football we took a hike on Elk Mountain. The combination of exercise and sunlight boosted our spirits, as always.

Samantha came over with Vivian last night to trick or treat. Vivian was wrapped up as a mummy. Samantha did not dress up. Alex claims Vivian can whistle, but although she did pucker up for me she would not whistle.

We are all eager for the election to come. For myself, I am creeped out by advertising for candidates I consider to be crooks or worse. Amazingly James Inhofe, who famously announced that global warming is a hoax, is favored to win by a large margin. His television advertising has been almost uniformly negative. One ad in particular intersperses pictures of felons with those of his opposing candidate and Barack Obama. I've given up on civil discourse at the office with anyone aside from the three or four Democrats in the building. It's not that I am reluctant to press my point, but I have arrived at the point where I can't listen to any more Republican b******t and still maintain the respect I want to have for my co-workers. I'm hoping for a Democratic landslide, and have a lovely Cotes du Rhone ready to toast the exit of the Republicans January 20th. Like many Democrats, I have my fingers and toes crossed that we will really be having this celebration.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Still Wrestling with Peacocks

There is still nothing whatever happening over here but Peacock Feathers and more Peacock Feathers. It's driving Shana crazy, and she's complaining to everyone alive about how I hole up with this project and do nothing but count stitches for two hours every day. That is nothing but the truth - that IS all I do. I'm on Chart 7, row 197, and it looks exactly the same as it did last week, except bigger. I does seem possible that I will finish on time, but I will probably be insane when I get to that point. On the other hand, Shana has ordered a dress for the wedding which will match, so maybe it's growing on her...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Down to the Refuge With Biscuits

Friday Shana and I went down to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge for a little peace and quiet and a few days away from the increasingly distressing news of the stock market and the presidential campaign. We don't take a radio, and our cell phones have no reception there unless we walk to one of the very few places where a signal is available. We had not been out camping for months due to the combination of cycling season and heat. Not only did we miss the quiet and beauty of the Refuge, but in the interim Shana had acquired the long awaited Dutch Oven and was eager to try it out. I was anxious to try out my two new pieces of equipment, too. For my birthday in April I had received an axe and a camp stove toaster.

Before heading out to the Refuge, I zipped over to see Alex and to watch Vivian while Dad and Mom took my car to get registered to vote. The deadline had crept up on them and I did not want them to miss out due to car trouble. Vivian was her usual cutie pie self, and showed no signs of having been sick the weekend before.

Shana had to work through mid afternoon Friday, so I went on ahead to reserve our campsite and set up our camp. The thought had crossed my mind that I was being obsessive by always insisting on packing up the night before and leaving right after work at noon to get us a campsite, but once I arrived at Camp Doris only a couple of hours later than usual nearly all the campsites were already taken, so this time we had #5, which was not one we had ever had before. I was glad that last time we were there Shana and I had driven around evaluating all possible choices should our favorites not be available. We liked #5 all right because it is on the outside, and has no close neighbors on either side. What we did not know was that available tent sites on #5 were not really large enough to accommodate the Taj M'Shana without putting us on a bit of a slope (and rocks) but it was still nice and quiet. Once Shana decided that she would not actually slide off the bed we were quite cozy.

Friday night we had a good skillet dinner cooked on the camp stove. Saturday morning we had a quickie toast and coffee breakfast because we were riding into Lawton to have beer and football (our team lost, boo hoo). The best part of that junket was trying out Blue Moon beer. It's a wheat beer, which I do not generally like, but I enjoyed this one. I did not know it was a Coors product, but I won't hold that against it. For Saturday night and Sunday morning Shana tried out her new toy. She had prepared by reading up on about a million recipes and watching the video (really!) that came with the Dutch oven showing you how to set it up and what balance of coals on the bottom and top would give you the temperature you wanted for various dishes. We had a yummy pork chop casserole Saturday night and perfect biscuits Sunday morning. The Lodge Dutch oven came preseasoned, and was very easy to use and clean. There are a couple of accessories we want for the next time out, but in general it's a big success. We had not packed the long tongs we already own, which would have been very welcome. Lodge makes a lid stand which not only gives you some place to put your hot lid besides on the ground but which can also be set in the coals to convert the lid (turned upside down) into a griddle. I'm a bit choosy about adding new equipment to our camping gear, but this item has earned its place.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

All Peacock Feathers all the Time

I am finally ticking right along on the Peacock Feathers shawl. Post it notes with the stitch numbers lined up along the row I am working on has made it easy to keep my count, especially since the charts have to be read one way from the edge to the center, and then backwards to complete the other half of the row. This is my second Fiddlesticks pattern, and I cannot recommend them enough. The charts are wonderful and the patterns are lovely. I am about to start row 149 of 250, and I am more than halfway through chart 5. I figured out exactly how many rows I have to complete per day to have it finished in time for Kate Humphries' wedding in early November, and at the moment it sounds possible. For purposes of my calculation I am ignoring the fact that it gets wider with every row, so every row should take a little longer to knit. As anyone can clearly see, in spite of many hours of work it looks very little different from the last picture I posted. The main difference is that I can tell the ball of yarn is getting smaller. By the way, this yarn came in a skein of over 1500 yards with no knots at all. Not one. It's Madil Super Due Merino, which I have seldom seen. I only paid about $14.00 for the skein, and would definitely buy this brand again, although I suspect this particular yarn is discontinued. The color is very rich and even - we'll see later how colorfast it is. The shawl itself is all bunched up on the circular, and is now too large to stretch out and see the pattern. It's not going to look any better until I bind off.

Vivian came to see us today, but did not have much play time. She wasn't feeling well, so after about an hour of running around she climbed up into my lap. I had the pleasure of reading to her for a little bit, something she is seldom still enough to enjoy. Pretty soon even that was more entertainment than she wanted, so she slept in my lap off and on for the next three hours until it was time to go home.

I also had big news of Logan this week - The Little Prince is crawling and pulling himself up now. I'm sure this is a great frustration reliever for him. He was very unhappy that everything he wanted was just out of reach. Now EVERYTHING is in reach, and when someone carries him through a room his eyes are taking inventory for his next chance to get in there by himself.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Untitled Weekend (too lazy to title)

Friday afternoon I had a visit from Miss Vivian. As she's grown she just keeps getting busier and busier. We went to Target to score some sparkly pink shoes, then off to the park. The swing was a big hit, but stepping on and off rocks was endlessly absorbing. She's finally gotten past the stage of picking up everything no matter how unlikely and putting it in her mouth, which makes outdoor activities much more pleasant. She is, however, getting to the phase where she does not like to be swept up and carried wherever you want her to go. She'd rather head off in her own direction as fast as possible, but will (just) consent to have you lead her by the hand.

Back to the house we went for an afternoon of go go go. She mauled the dog, played with her toys, checked (and double checked) all the doors in the house to be sure she was still barred from total access. We had a rhythm band parade and danced. She talked on the phone, climbed in and out (and in and out) of chairs, attempted to mutilate my house plants but was prevented by doing so because my big ponytail palm can defend itself with rough edged leaves, checked several times to be sure I still did not want her pulling everything out of my kitchen cupboards, and enjoyed a snack. She won Roxy's heart when she shared her teddy grahams. We had dinner. She had a bath. The only thing she never did was stop moving.

I took lots and lots of pictures, so hop on over to my Flickr gallery to see the rest.

Saturday morning I joined some of the cycling group to ride out to El Reno. It was a perfect day, and we made an easy ride of it. It's probably a sign of our progress as cyclists that a forty mile ride appeals as an "easy" morning on the bike. Five of us rode out, and whenever we regrouped the conversational groups were shuffled. I think everybody got a chance to visit on the road. I was especially thrilled to find out that Melissa has actually raised sheep and GOATS! The only thing that marred our ride was a very new chip surface on about 8 miles of road. There was a huge amount of loose gravel on the surface, so we had to slow down and pay close attention. I like to think it's a great opportunity to build our skills to run into things like this, but I really think one mile instead of 8 would have been sufficient for that purpose. We're really past the season for rigorous training now, so we were just out enjoying the day and could take our time to look around. We're determined not to lose all of our hard won endurance over the winter, but the need to keep up a particular pace has faded a bit. We stopped often to regroup and enjoy the scenery and quiet of the country, including snake spotting off of a bridge. That made a nice change, as most of the wildlife we saw was in the form of roadkill. I don't know when I've ever seen so many and of so many species. On the way out Diane and I noticed a little cat up in a tree. When the cat was still there (and looking unhappy) on the way back. Diane decided he (she?) needed to be rescued. Diane used her bike as an improvised ladder and saved the day. Then we adjourned to Jim's for a bite and some additional conversation before we went our separate ways.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally

Last week Sarah Palin returned to Alaska to a crowd of about 1,000 fans and well-wishers. BUT - on the other side of town, in front of the library (heh) some 1,400 gathered to show their opposition the Mrs. Palin- the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. Go here - read the article, look at the pictures, read the comments, and take heart. This week McSame will be shlepping her all over the UN for photo ops, on the theory that a picture of her with various heads of state will give her "foreign policy credentials".

On an even more encouraging note (or maybe just a chorus of "too little and too late") our elected officials seem to have grown a spine and decided not to hand over nearly a trillion dolalrs to the Secretary of the Treasury without oversight, at least for today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Weekend with no Football

Friday afternoon Samantha and I went down to the OU Health Sciences center for a test to clarify results of an abnormal pap smear. She was nervous about the procedure, and of course her dad had jumped to the worst possible conclusion and scared her to death. As it happens, OU is partnering with a German firm to test a new tool that combines digital photography with colposcopy that allows them to get an even better look at the cervix. While I was pleased to know that Samantha was getting the best medical technology has to offer, the fact that this is new technology meant that in the little tiny room where the procedure was taking place was filled with about eight people (plus Sam and me!). Three people got to use the machinery and try their hand at focusing and taking pictures, and the company reps made helpful suggestions. The end result was that I think she got a very thorough examination and we both got a very good look at her cervix, enlarged and (basically) on TV. We got to ask lots of questions about the procedure and get lots of answers. In spite of being in a small room with no pants in front of a crowd of people, I think Samantha was fairly comfortable because of their attitude. It looks like nothing to worry about, which is the result we were hoping for.

Partly because they were running every test with a full cast of characters, and partly because of the way clinics always seem to run, we went in for a 1:30 appointment and didn't leave there until after 3:30. We had plenty of time to visit, and had quite a pleasant time together.

Saturday Shana and I attended a bridal shower for Katie, which was a nice little party. The guest list was small: the bride, her mother, Shana and I, Aunt Rita, and Nancy's best friends. Money gifts were given after lunch; then we adjourned to the living room for cake, coffee, and presents. Except for some honeymoon treats (of a non-embarrassing nature) the gifts were sentimental and sweet. Nancy had an artist's sketch of Katie's wedding gown enlarged and framed, the ring bearer's pillow that I made for her was one of the gifts. The last gift was her wedding veil. Katie is wearing her mother's wedding veil, beautifully remade for her by her Aunt Jeanie. Katie was surprised and touched - tears all around.

I had planned for an afternoon visit with Vivian, but due to some scheduling conflicts we were not able to have our visit. Instead Shana and I went out looking for outfits for Katie's wedding, which will also serve for our own wedding. We both met with success, and snatched up our choices. There will be a little tailoring for Shana's choice, and we will both need shoes, but the major decisions are made. We'd been a little anxious about it, so it was good to have that out of the way. For the imperfect, shopping for special occasion clothes is fraught with anxiety. It can be hard to maintain your self esteem in the face of clothes that do not fit, are unflattering, or do not come in your size. It's funny how after you try on things for a while you begin to think that it's not the clothes that don't fit or are unattractive, but yourself. You want something nice, but do not want to drop a pile of money on something that may not be wearable in future. I was concerned that not only would I have trouble finding something that fit well and would be appropriate for both occasions, but would also suit a shawl already in progress, so to everything else I added color requirements. Shana had initially been thinking of a dress, but ultimately selected a suit with pants that will not only be dressy enough for the two scheduled occasions, but also would be suitable for work meetings. She has a position on a company wide committee, and will be happy to have a nice outfit to wear when meeting with the company president. Her normal work wear has to be suitable for sitting on the floor with children, so dressy clothes are a very small part of her wardrobe. The prospective shoe shopping holds no fear for me - what could be more fun than picking out shoes to complement a beautiful dress? There is also the issue of a suitable handbag. I may have something already in my arsenal, but who could say no to a cute new clutch?

After the shopping trip I adjourned to my craft room to work on the Peacock Feathers Shawl. I've started on chart 3, row 87 of 250. That sounds like I am nearly halfway done, but that is only an illusion. The shawl gets wider with every row, and for every row of the chart there are two rows of knitting because you purl back after every row of the chart. I'm a slow but persistent lace knitter. How people can memorize a chart and buzz right along is a mystery to me. I've got post-it notes with stitch numbers laid over every line, and I still have to count my stitches going both ways for every repeat. Also, once the knitting is done there is a looped crochet bind off that will take a fair amount of time. Luckily crochet holds no terror for me. The Yarn Harlot has said that lace in progress looks like a**, and in this she is certainly right. I have now arrived at the point where I will no longer be able to stretch the shawl out to get a peek at the pattern without risking dropping part of it off the needles. Except for its ever-growing size it will look exactly like the yarn barf you sometimes get when trying to find the leading end of a center pull ball until it's off the needles and blocked. This is the leap of faith that is lace knitting. Oddly, even though it looks awful, getting to this point gives me confidence that I will be able to finish it.