Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Imagine...

you are viewing the body of a slouchy chunky sweater with the two sleeves started beside it. The sweater body has been placed on cords to save for later. It has been worn to prove its length only to fall a bit short-more will be needed when the sleeves are finished.
pretend photo of the cuffs of two sleeves using magic loop here

the most beautiful shades of purple dyed into a yarn. Warm soft lavenders reminiscent of hydrangeas. These soft fibers had started their knitted life as an Achillea sock only to come out large enough to fit a small elephant. This week they have been frogged. Those Achillea socks are back on the needles with fewer stitches and now more closely resemble human size.
pretend photo of cuff and part of leg using magic loop here

crazy wild bold colors swirled together in a skein of sock yarn. Green, yellow, purple and brown meld in an Easter basket flurry of color. These too have been cast-on for a pair of Los Monos Locos. I am hoping to use most of the skein on these. They will be my crazy April egg-hunting socks.
pretend photo of sock cuff using two circulars here
\
a pile of books topped with an innocuous looking magazine. The magazine has been sporadically read. It is good. Some parts may not be applicable to me, but the feeling is true to my heart. It is Taproot, and my earlier worries were too harsh. It is good. A bit of Mother Earth News for the romantic. I haven't finished it, and I admit to reading it out of order (I just wasn't sure I could love an article about soil. I live in a world of hard, caliche soil not black loamy stuff). I do like it though. I am eager to see how it evolves. Also on my reading pile is The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I am enjoying this read quite a bit. I am only around page 100, so no real insight yet. I am glad to have found it via our weekly Yarn Alongs.
pretend photo of books here

Why must you imagine? Well, my laptop is back in repair. The good news is that Apple would like to just give me a new one. The bad news is that it will take 5-7 days and my data will be lost. Fortunately after the last incident Dave backed up all the photos. Not so much on the documents, but I think most were in Dropbox. All should be fine. In the interim you must use your imagination, visualizing all the fun and craziness that we call home.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

These Days

Amidst the boxes and a new bit of uncertainty (including a possible change of plans), these days we are loving:

* playing Pokemon with one another. With a little tutelage, I am playing too. I even have my own deck.
* these cards. They utilize the Pokemon model, but deal with the natural world (think Kingdom, Phyllum, Genus). I found out about them on this site which is full of great science fun for children. Roberta also has a few other science and literary blogs. I get a lot of non-fiction book ideas from her.
* the Holden shawl that I finished several weeks ago. I washed and blocked all our woolens before packing, since little pests love dirty wool. The Holden shawlette was included in the soak. I like how it turned out, but I don't love it on me. It deserves to be loved, so I will add it to my gift-giving basket.
* a little time to knit. I have found a few moments here and there to knit the body of my Bedford pullover. Despite my most convincing efforts, it was deemed too short by everyone I asked, so I had to knit several more inches. I vow to start the sleeves today.
* all the space in our play area and the small selection of toys. I firmly believe that less is so much more when it comes to stuff. Even with what I consider a smaller amount of toys, getting rid of most of them makes playing with what is left so much fun.
* time spent with friends at the robotic competition. Eamon loved his outing to watch the big brother of one of his buddies compete. It was similar to a sporting event with costuming, cheering and major crowd participation. (The older brother's team made it to the finals, but was eliminated).
* friends who offer diversions each day for our family as well as invite the kiddos over to play.
* one more day of the weekend to spend together.

What are you loving today? Do you have any grand plans for the upcoming week?

Friday, March 23, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Pages than Stitches

The weeks have been filled with packing and planning. I don't seem to be picking up my sweater at all. I never even started a sock yarn project this month. So much is swirling around in my head these days. By the time I have a moment to settle in to knit I am too tired. Other times I vow to begin the sleeves only to be distracted by another pile that should be packed, purged or sorted. Fortunately I have found time to read.

This past week has been a week of finishing (of course, not stitches in knitting, but pages in books). I finally finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Despite the time it took to read, I enjoyed it quite a bit. My main issue was having too many books at once and not being able to renew it digitally. The central character was well developed and the story unfolded well. It focuses on one man and his life now and as a boy during WWII. He is Chinese living in Seattle. His best friend is a young girl attending the same private school. She is Japanese and eventually forced into a relocation camp. This portion of history is very interesting to me. In history classes and discussions, it was often overlooked. I know so very little about it. This book was a nice juxtaposition to my earlier read about Japan and its soldiers during the same period (Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption). Granted this story is fiction; it gave me the nudge to delve deeper into the period and learn more. I fear at times that we spout anger at hatred and inequity only to do it ourselves as a nation justified by some higher rationale.

The kiddos and I also finished Oddfellow's Orphanage. They really enjoyed the illustrations and prose. Some of the stories were a bit sparse and underdeveloped, but the whole was good. Eamon was disappointed when it ended. He thought it should still continue for a bit longer as he enjoyed the unique characters and their setting. In case you didn't know, it is written by Emily Winfield Martin of Black Apple fame. I have followed her work for several years.

I am now beginning to read The Tiger's Wife. It is due in a couple days, so I will probably start The Book of Salt as well. In addition to those novels, I received my copy of Taproot in the mail. My initial impression is good, however I have only flipped through it to glance at the photos. My concern is it will be geared to the east too much. In the Southwest, our seasons are so different as is our growing. We almost need something special just for us!

For those of you linking from Ginny's Yarn Along, what are you focusing on this week - stitches or pages?

Monday, March 19, 2012

You Could Call it That

A chilly wind blows against the bags as I lift them into the car. A wind unexpected in March here in the Southwest. Too small clothes, toys no longer needed, and other household items of little interest fill the bags and surrounding area. I hop into the drivers seat and head off. As I pull around to the back of the building, I notice the forbidding closed door. Checking the hours posted, I climb out hoping to deliver my unused items into the hands of those who could use them. No answer at the door despite the time. With the wind chilling my bare legs, I hustle to the front and ask the kind workers where I can leave my treasures. One promises to meet me in the back. We chat as I unload all I have to offer. "Spring cleaning, eh?" she quips as I ask for a receipt. I look at her, thinking about our journey ahead, all the packing, purging and planning and decide to leave it at that. Spring cleaning? Sure, you could call it that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm Back

With much anticipation, I picked up my repaired laptop. The damage was covered by our insurance, which lessened the financial blow significantly. It now has a new battery, display, logic board, connector and plug. It works so well!

While I was without "my machine," I did not post much. We have a desktop computer, but it didn't feel right. I am now catching up with our life documenting. When I started this blog 6 years ago, I wanted it to serve as my memory. I noticed I was forgetting much of the little moments. It is hard to believe I have written about our life for so long. Initially I restricted access to family, but opened it up when members of our extended family could not read it (password issues). Once I opened the blog I included more of what we do. I am so glad I do. This little place helps me remain centered. It reminds me of what is truly important in our lives. As someone who doesn't scrapbook, I appreciate this space. It is a journal and record. It is our life.
(Holiday ornaments and gift tags that we finally painted. They were very brittle and did not withstand handling well, so they were not used at the holidays. They are now all broken except for the one given to Pap).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day

Today we celebrated Pi Day with our friends. For those not in the know, today's date corresponds to the first 3 digits in pi (March 14 = 3.14). We feasted on pizza pie, lemon pie and apple pie. We also had snacks to share in circular dishes.

For a little circle fun, I had each of the kiddos search for a stick. Our family did this a little over a year ago with another group of friends. The results were similar. Discovering how to make the final circle didn't take as long, since a few of the children caught on quickly or were told by those who had done it in the past. 
I shared a few books on circles and pi with everyone. Our family really enjoys the Sir Cumference series (for today we focused on Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi ) for its wit and creativity. Each story deals with mathematical principles and involves a quest. The characters enjoy names such as Sir Cumference, Radius and Lady Di of Ameter. Eamon has read them all several times, yet he picked one up again today to read. They really are enjoyable.
Books shared space with necklace and bracelet making. Each colored bead represented a number, With string in hand, several kiddos diligently strung beads corresponding to the digits in pi. They marveled at the random sequence. We talked briefly about non-repeating decimals and the unique characteristics of this "magic" number. (The colorful pi wheel shown here was crafted by one of our homeschooling friends. She created a visual for everyone that showed the equation circumference/diameter = pi).
Soon everyone scattered wearing their bead jewelry to enjoy the park, chalk and the beautiful weather. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Goat Farm

Our homeschooling group arranged a tour of a local goat farm. The farm is situated on several acres in Gilbert. We were shown chickens, pigs and of course goats.
Many of the breeds on the farm are heritage. The colors and markings on the animals were truly beautiful. This particular rooster received quite a bit of attention. Granted the pigs were a crowd pleaser too, but it was more for their bodily functions! 
Turkey feathers were gathered and proudly displayed as we walked throughout the property. The turkeys were not present when we toured. They had been sold the week prior. The kiddos noticed the difference between those feathers closer to the body and those on the outside.
Kids were plentiful in the goat area of the farm. Many were seen nursing with their mama goats. Several were brought closer to pet and examine. The farm owner and her daughter answered questions about the goat's eyes, lack of horns, udders and everything else you could imagine. The owner shared her history with us, and it was so very interesting. She had lived in the same house as a child. It had been sold and she bought it back from that owner nine years ago. With a profound love of goats, she has included them in her life since she was 14. She truly lives her passion.
After hanging out with the goats for some time, we settled in for some goat milk cheese and ice cream. With crackers and goat cheese in hand, everyone watched as the ingredients were mixed. Each child took a turn on the hand crank. They were amazed at how tough it was to crank and how long the process was. The result was delicious ice cream. Many wanted seconds! However all that was left was a bowl of eggs and an empty milk container.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In the Field

Our family took a little hike on the Merkel Trail at Usery Mountain on Friday. It was a scheduled Girl Scout activity, so we were joined by two other families. The kiddos sketched rocks and flowers. 

They used field guides to identify scat along the trail. Benton and his friend Henry discussed who should be the leader. 
One girl had a bird song player that she used with Eamon to identify bird calls. We stopped along the path for snacks and more discovery. I told them about the parasite growing in the Palo Verde which was shading our spot. The bush is spread by bird droppings, and it infests the growing tree. someone spotted a brilliant yellow spider. 
The weather was so beautiful and our company was delightful making this a great hike into the field.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Celebrations

The last week has been busy. The first four months of the year find our family celebrating a whole host of birthdays. March is especially full with Dave and me at the beginning and Benton at the end.

Dave started the celebrations. We were joined by his parents who were able to escape chillier climes for our beautiful weather. We had a home cooked meal and a delicious cake (from A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg). My parents also joined us and came bearing an ice cream cake as well. Both were delicious. Presents were then given and appreciated.

My birthday fell later in the week, and it was a big one (the big 4-0). First thing I was presented with gifts. Aine was so excited to have me open her special gift. She insisted Dave take her shopping the previous weekend. While out she bought me a new comb. It was a very heartfelt gift of which she was so proud. The three of them also gave me a book I have been eyeing, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace (you can tell I am on a food kick with all the cookbooks). The kiddos had a field trip scheduled that I didn't want them to miss in the morning. The whole family plus Dave's dad (his mom was not feeling well) ventured out to a goat farm. After the field trip, we headed home. Dave had planned an evening out for us. We had a delightful dinner at Centurion restaurant followed by the theater. We shared wine and good conversation. It was so nice to spend the evening with him and discuss our upcoming adventures.

After the real festivities, we had more cake to celebrate. My father in law has a birthday in March as well, and he really liked the cake. I think he pretended it was for me, but I think we all knew the truth! I blew out candles and was serenaded. Forty is turning out to be pretty good.

Friday, March 09, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Moving RIght Along

With all the craziness over the past week, I have not been knitting as much as I would like. I have been reading and listening to books though. My audiobook selection the past few weeks has been Bossypants by Tina Fey. I started it when I realized my other audiobook was missing  part 5 of 11. Oops. I wasn't sure I wanted to skip an hours worth of the story. (Since my laptop is being repaired, I cannot get that file). So, I started Fey's book. I like that she is a strong woman garnering tremendous success in her field. I am not all that impressed with her quick chapters on nursing and parenting. Her tone really left a sour note.

I also finished my traditional print book as well. I have heard many things about A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. Molly is the blogger behind Orangette. I read her blog intermittently as I enjoy her style, but at times her food does not work for my family. I do love her Peppermint Bark though. When Rachel also suggested reading this cookbook, I checked it out from the library. I couldn't put it down. It isn't a traditional cookbook, but rather a collection of essays centered on food. I really liked it. I even cried a bit when she spoke of her father. It is really good. Of course, the recipes are quite yummy also. I made the French Toast and the chocolate cake. My pedestrian children prefer my toast, but everyone gobbled up the cake. I would suggest you pick this book even if you don't like to cook. It is really a nice collection of essays.

My knitting is moving slowly along. Last week I finished the Holden scarf, but I have not photographed it. The color and pattern worked well together. The picot edging felt a bit daunting as far as time, but within two hours, I had it completely bound off. This has left more time for sweater knitting. I have almost completed the body. I think I only have another inch before I need to focus on the sleeves. Those "should" go quickly, since they are reverse stockinette. Of course, you may recall that I have really long arms and no matter what size you are sleeves take time. This week I will be casting on another pair of socks, since I am challenging myself to use 12 skeins of sock yarn this year. I think I may finally knit those mystery socks from January this month.

Fellow Yarn-Alongers, how has your week been? What are you knitting and reading along with Ginny?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Stretch

I never mentioned my word for 2012. I reflected a bit at the beginning of the year on my previous year's resolve. I did fairly well on my goals, but I knew I wanted something different for 2012. This year seems big. So full of potential. I wanted to fully embrace it. So my word for 2012 is s t r e t c h.

I am trying to really challenge myself and my comfort zone this year. This applies to everything I do. I want to extend my boundaries in my craft, my love, my fears, my hopes. This expansion and stretching feels so good. I have challenged myself physically and mentally already this year. I have more complex, detailed knitting patterns selected as well as lofty goals in other areas. I can feel the old boundaries slip away as I s t r e t c h.

Of course, a true challenge emerged recently and put my word to the true test. Last week we found out that Dave has an opportunity to work out of state for several months. It will be a temporary assignment through his employer. The two of us decided it would be a grand adventure. We discussed if it could work and how it would work. I knew we could stretch and do it, so our family will be moving temporarily across the country. EEK! This is very far out of my comfort zone. I love adventure and new things, but I like a plan and the safety of the known. s t r e t c h


So in the next few weeks, we are putting everything we own into storage and embarking on a new journey. We will be living in a grand city with so much to do and see. It will be fantastic. We will be encountering a different climate complete with obvious seasons. We will need jackets and good walking shoes. We will be driving 37 hours to arrive at our destination. We will be seeing, doing and learning so much. It is a bit scary. But it will be a good s t r e t c h.

As I clamor to secure moving boxes, remove obligations and simplify our lives, I will continue to keep everyone posted on our preparations and adventures. This will be amazing, and I want you all to join us. Can you feel the s t r e t c h?



Friday, March 02, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

1st World Problems

The shower floor was filthy. It had only been a week or two (or perhaps three), since I had cleaned it. With a sprinkling of baking soda, I scrubbed while listening to Portlandia on my laptop. The abrasive was working, but I needed a bit of water. I removed the shower hose from the fixture and slowly turned the water. As the pressure increased, the hose whipped around the stall spraying water out the door. Not a problem I thought. I had a dirty towel on the floor, which I could use to wipe up the water. As I turned around to clean up my mess, I knew I was in trouble. My laptop had been drenched.

With the closest towel in hand, I gently mopped up the water on the screen and keyboard. I thought I had saved the device, since it continued to function. Foolishly I did not turn it off until a few minutes later when the screen started acting up. It never turned back on. I was devastated. Dave suggested putting it in a container with rice.  My brother called and reminded me that I have Apple Care. My hope was renewed. Dave made an appointment for the next morning.

With my three companions in tow, I headed to the mall and the Apple Store. I checked in with the concierge who asked me about the problem. As soon as I mentioned knowing why my computer didn't work, he told me that water damage was not covered by Apple Care. I was crushed. He tried to make me feel a bit better by assuring me that someone would check out my baby laptop to see if anything could be done. The kiddos quickly picked up the iPod Touchs and began playing. We waited. As the wait progressed, the knots in my stomach grew.

Finally someone was able to help me. He listened to the problem and then took the computer to the back. It wasn't good. The chime began and then it would immediately shut down. With my hard drive in hand, he told me the news. A huge lump formed in my throat as he showed me the screen indicating the cost. I started blubbering. He tried to help, but all I could say was that I didn't have $755, and I had to get my kiddos. With my new paperweight in hand and my bewildered kiddos, I left the store crying.

My brother called while I was leaving the store. He immediately deduced that there was a problem when he heard my voice. Openly crying at this point, I hung up as I had to leave the mall with some of my dignity intact. When I returned to the car, we exchanged texts. He reminded me of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life(the "always look on the bright side of life" song). That made me laugh. A lot. We also talked about the fact that my household is very fortunate to have other computer options available. The loss of my laptop is a 1st world problem. Also true. That youngest brother of mine is pretty wise.

So, I no longer have my laptop. With some help from my brother, I am hoping the data on my hard drive is salvageable. Despite knowing better, it had been too long since my last backup. I am posting as I can on our main computer, but I may be a bit quiet until I can scrounge up enough funds to replace my machine. I am embarrassed to even admit my sadness and anger, as well as my public breakdown. I know it isn't the end of the world. I will adjust, but for today I am sad.
Flowers I bought on the way home from the Apple Store. They make me happy.