July 30, 2007


I had an extra knitting helper this weekend, and she was not nearly as tolerant of my knitting as Gwen. At one point she even reached up and was mouthing my yarn! She quickly figured out that was a really bad idea, right about the moment I unceremoniously dumped her off my lap.

Having successfully finished all my projects, I was able to cast on for a new project. Its the short-sleeved version of CeCe by Chicknits, and I was a little nervous about a lace garment. I haven't done much lace. Much to my delight, I really enjoyed starting the lace pattern and quickly cruised along through the first 12 rows of the sweater. And then disaster struck. I'd love to blame what happened on the additional help, but it was all me. I missed a stitch, so I tried to rip back and fix it. In the process I dropped a stitch. Unfortunately, it was a stitch above a yarn over. I could not figure out how to pick up a yarn over. It just got worse from there. The stitch dropped lower, and since its in the middle of the lace pattern there were more yarn overs and strange twists... It got ugly.

I finally just frogged all the way back to the ribbing and started over with the lace pattern. So, here's what I have to show for my weekend knitting.

It's a really good thing I'm enjoying this pattern! We'll see if I still enjoy it hundreds of repeats later.

July 29, 2007

Swimming Lesson

Since Lily's family goes canoeing several weekends a month and she always goes along, we were very surprised to learn on a recent trip to the dog park that she is a very poor swimmer. The lady beside us put it best when she remarked "Now that's a doggy paddle." Lily tries to swim vertically - her feet hanging down to the bottom and limp while her upper legs flounder around on the top of the water. Words to fully describe it fail me, but it is a pitiful sight.

The need to wear out two excited dogs drove us to spend several hours at the dog park both Saturday and Sunday. The 90 degree humid heat drove us to spend those hours in the water. Lily wasn't so sure about this plan, but we finally got her out in the water with us. And the swim lessons began. Alex found that lifting her hips just a little encouraged her to swim, well, horizontally. And to do that she had to use her back legs at least a little. It was small progress, but it was progress.

Of course, we almost caused Gwen to regress in the process. Gwen has long been an excellent, if reluctant, swimmer. This summer's heat has even inspired her to do laps around us in the lake, rather than just swimming to us and demanding to be held. However, the sight of her Dad spending so much time swimming with Lily and the frequent refrain of "good girl" apparently caused her some consternation. I turned around and there she was swimming to him in the same ridiculous doggy paddle Lily uses! Yikes. So not the plan. We immediately discouraged that and praised her for swimming properly, but she still tried it out from time to time... We may be better off with an 'only pup' since our parenting skills apparently don't extend to sibling rivalry.

July 28, 2007


This was the kind of week that did not lend itself to blogging. (Lots of yucky cases at work, too much stress and frustration, and too little time at home. Much better by the end of Friday, thank goodness.) But, it did lend itself to soothing knitting.

And the accomplishment of finishing my first pair of socks was an excellent bonus.

July 27, 2007


We are babysitting this little Lilliput this weekend while my sister is on a whirlwind trip to New York. She is one of my favorite creatures, but don't let this ladylike pose fool you. This munchkin has more energy than ten big dogs. I only got this picture by using a steady stream of "stay" followed by a greenie bribe.

I have had two shadows since I arrived home, and they were not pleased with my original choice of activities. 'No, Aunt Cara, you will not knit.' 'No, Mama, you will not read Harry Potter.' We must wrestle in your immediate presence. If you are seated, only your lap itself counts as immediate presence. The husband, of course, has a not-so-voluntary work social event tonight. I am on my own with these two little monsters. And I love every minute of it.

Since they were having none of my indoor activities, we all went out in the yard. I noticed earlier that my Florida Hibiscus was looking sad, and I bought a bigger pot believing it was root bound. In just the two days it took me to do that, the hibiscus looks almost dead. There were mushrooms growing in the pot and white ashy powder all over the soil and the base of the plant. Oh, this is not good. So, re-potting involved pulling the roots free of all the soil I could manage, completely fresh soil and a brand new pot, a thorough watering and then a good squirt of fungicide. There's still lots of green wood, so there's a chance. But, there's not much in the way of leaves so I don't know if it can pull off that whole photosynthesis trick. I guess we'll see.

July 21, 2007

Of Coffee and Clove Cigarettes

There was a coffee house in my hometown that served very little in the way of good coffee, but was a venue for local bands and a teenage hangout. It was in an old building - dark and dusty, with 'found object' art on the walls mismatched cafe sets and a very liberal policy. I know they served alcohol later, when I was older, but in my teenage memories its the smell of old wood, coffee and clove cigarettes. Teenagers trying to be grown up, and by virtue of that very act being quintessentially teenagers.

But it was the live music that clinched the deal. We could sit in the dark on those creaky chairs, sipping our coffee or chai and watching the local bands performing under the bright lights of the "stage", a series of box platforms shoved in a corner. The music was always too loud to allow you to hear one another, but we pretended we were building relationships anyway. One night a week was open mic night, but it was the weekends, when the bands played, that we loved.

One summer night my friends and I were hanging out at the coffee house and we heard a band that even I could tell was something special. Tabitha's Secret. They played songs that had interesting lyrics, and they weren't playing cover songs. And they were good. I bought their tape that night and played it often. And then I heard one of the songs on the radio. Slightly different, but only slightly. Matchbox 20? Who is that? That's 3 a.m., and Tabitha's Secret recorded that song at least two years ago. I have the tape.

It turns out Matchbox 20 is the band most of Tabitha's Secret joined. (A high school friend told me there was only a one person difference, but I've never actually checked that fact.) The little local band that played the coffee house in my hometown is on the top 40. It felt like a brush with fame, and I still get a little thrill when I think of it.

I'm dorky like that.

July 17, 2007

Confusing the Muggles

Today was apparently a day for strange sites in central Florida.

This morning I went out back to water the plants. The garden was very dry and the ground was thirstily sucking up the water. I went to water the front. And everything was wet. Everything - the soil is wet, water droplets shimmer on the leaves and the pitcher for spot watering is holding water. It was unmistakable - it rained in the front yard and not in the back. This happens sometimes in Florida; you'll see it raining on one side of the street and not on the other. But it never stops being weird.

And then at noon, I was waiting for the light at the corner of a major thoroughfare and a residential street. Walking down the sidewalk is a guy with Elvis hair - jet black, wavy, the whole deal - black, plastic thick-rimmed sunglasses, a cigarette and several tattoos. He's wearing black boxers, a white undershirt, black slippers (with socks) and a gold bathrobe, loosely tied at the waist. I wish I could have taken a picture, because trying to describe it just doesn't do it justice.

Maybe the wizards are moving about for some reason? Though, I don't know why they'd be watering half my yard...

July 16, 2007

Knowing Private v. Public

Last week I spoke with a friend who lives out of state, one I don’t talk to often enough for reasons that aren’t nearly good enough. But, she reads this blog. She was telling me that she loves to read it, that she felt like she got to be here when I finally gave Mom her quilt and for the little life stuff you miss when you are away. And then she said “it’s so nice, you sound so happy.”

I’ve been thinking about that comment a lot since she said it. I am happy. My life is good, and I have no room to complain. This morning I woke up in a soft bed snuggled next to a husband I enjoy being with, listening to the contented snores of my dog. I poured a cup of coffee and took it out in to the yard to water the plants I have the joy of growing. I came in to an office full of people I like to do a job I feel passionately about and am good at. I don’t earn what my degree says I should, but I have the luxury of working at the job I love anyway because my life is pretty straightforward and my husband is incredibly supportive. What do I have to complain about?

That said, I do complain. Just ask my husband! The last few weeks, when I was well outside of my comfort zone at work, I complained plenty. I complained about my fear of failing at the task, about how beat up my body felt from the tension, and about things that shouldn’t have rated a complaint but did because I was so anxious. My husband walked on egg shells, trying to be understanding and biting his lip when I was… less than understanding.

Now, I’m not criticizing myself for not knowing how good I have it. I do appreciate my life, and I know the complaints are just human nature. What I was thinking about is that I do not write about that stuff here. I could have written about being outside my comfort zone at work. In fact, I almost did, and then I realized it wasn’t interesting to anyone but me and not even really to me. But, the night one (or both) of us is being unreasonable, is not the night to type an entry. The day I come home from work thinking “I might as well be a kindergarten teacher, because I supervise a bunch of five year olds” is not the day either. I write this blog mostly for myself, as a journal I can look back at and reminisce over. But, it is a very public journal and my private life doesn’t belong on it. Other people’s private lives most especially don’t belong here.

I think bloggers forget that sometimes. They sit in the privacy of their home writing, and they forget that this is more like standing in the middle of the town square shouting. Heck, its more like taking out billboards all over the world. As I’ve started reading blogs, I’ve seen entries that make me wince and immediately navigate away. Some blogs are so full of these entries that I never read them, no matter how many people link to them.

So, I’m glad that my blog sounds happy to my friend. I am happy. Very happy. But, those moments that aren’t so happy? You won’t be reading about many of them here.

(And, S? I didn't miss the hint about how you look for your quilt to show up on the blog. I bought the interfacing Saturday. You should see signs of it appearing soon. I mean, its only been a year.)

July 05, 2007


American life moves so fast, even when you don't want it to. I'm dizzy with how quickly everything is going by. So, I'm trying to slow down and take some time for the little things. This weekend it was a boycott on obligations and a chance to finish some projects. I made a real dent and with a holiday in the middle of the week I've gotten several finished.

There was some house-stuff.

No pictures of the vermicompost I built or of the plants I re-potted/put in the ground. It was perfect, though. We are getting plenty of rain, and the plants are thriving! We'll see how the worms are doing. The rain is why I haven't gotten around to the photos, though.

But, I did get a picture of the husband stabilizing the "pantry" before it falls over and all the food breaks open on the floor. And while he did that, I modified a curtain to fit. (It was created as a shower curtain, though its never had that use.) The primary goal is to keep the sunlight off the food, but I won't turn up my nose at the fact that it means no one can see the chaos I allow to reign in there!

But, best of all there was crafty stuff. I did finally finish the picnic quilt. I really love how it turned out. I ended up with just plain ties - and more sanity for it. I also ditched the plan to embroider flip flops on the border. The quilt is so busy and bright that it needs that undisturbed cooling blue around it. Binding is still definitely my least favorite part of making a quilt, but it went a little better this time. I actually remembered to baste the layers and then I cut the binding fabric a 1/2" wider and used a bigger seam allowance, making my life much easier as I wrestled with my sewing machine. I also got out the book for a refresher on turning the corners. But, best of all, on the way home from work on Monday I was wondering whether I should tackle sewing on the binding or hang out with the husband. I found him in the office working on one of his projects - installing something or other on the computer, I think. The office is also my sewing room, so it was perfect. I enjoyed the binding much more having company while I worked on it. My hand still cramped handsewing the back side, but that would be solved by working on it for smaller periods of time. But, I wanted to have it for the 4th. And I did. I took it to the 4th of July barbecue last night and thoroughly enjoyed using it to watch the kids play in the pool during the afternoon and then admire the fireworks at night. It was a hit with the kids who liked to lay on it when they got worn out, making me a very popular girl.

I also had time to make these sweet little turtles. (They'll get embroidered faces.) I realized on Sunday night that none of the hundreds of spools of thread I had matched the turquoise for the binding. And going to the store wasn't an option right then. So, I made another turtle. And now I've made yet another. These are so much fun, and so very cute. One more and I can make the wall-hanging pictured in the book. I don't usually make projects as designed by someone else, but I may make an exception for this one. I like it and I don't quite feel like making a whole quilt out of them right now.