December 30, 2008

The Crafty Gifts

Knowing that I had committed to finishing a quilt for Christmas, I was determined to keep the rest of the Christmas crafting simple.This scarf, for my other aunt, was the only other thing in the queue. I started it just to keep my hands busy when my grandmother was in the hospital. Nothing portable was on the needles, and I'd just finished my linen wrap. So, I grabbed the needles and leftover yarn and cast on for a scarf in the same pattern. While we waited, my aunt admired the emerging pattern and so I knew it was meant to be hers. I was right; she loved it.
But, as it turned out, Wandering Flamingoes, the scarf and a super-secret project for the early spring were all completed well in advance of Christmas. And so, I added another project to the queue, naturally. My almost-married-and-actually-cooking-these-days sister needed an Emmeline apron to go with the cutting board she requested. I mean, look at that cute gathered bodice.
And its power to be easily reversed when you've made a mess of your apron just as your guests are walking in the door.
And the fact that she loves it. She also looks so much better in it than I did. I should probably figure out why and what to adjust before I make one for myself, because I will definitely be making one for myself.

Christmas, Part I

Alex and I spent Christmas with his family this year. It was an adjustment for me, without a question. I have missed only one other Christmas morning with my family in my 32 years, and I've never gone all of Christmas day without them. But, we dodged this decision all the years we dated by never spending Christmas together. I am not willing to do that now, obviously. And so, we spent our first Christmas morning at home by ourselves, and then hosted my family Christmas night. Our second Christmas day we spent with my family, and so this year Alex needed the time with his family. And while it was different, as family traditions inevitably are, it was lovely.
Instead of dogs sniffing at the packages, there was a guardian cat.
And there was still an abundance of great food. (Including the inevitable whole lamb that graces any major celebration at my father-n-law's home. My mother-in-law confided this year that she's a bit tired of the lamb, actually.)
With the extended family in Bulgaria, there was a much smaller, calmer celebration. And with no young kids around, it was a Christmas lunch when the twenty-something year old finally woke up.
There was plenty of whimsy, including these caviar snowmen on their snowboards. I love these.
And, I got to watch an 8 year old girl trounce Alex at boxing.

Wandering Flamingos - Grand Finale

And so, the quilt that spoke my aunt's name all those months ago is done.

Pieced, quilted and bound.

It was perfect. It made her cry. And I find there is really nothing more to be said.

December 24, 2008


When we were learning to drive, my father told us that you always have to keep a good distance from a semi, because it will 'suck you under.' My sister, upon hearing this overly dramatic description of a semi's draft, pictured the scene in graphic detail with her artist's inner eye. And, of course, she was immediately terrified to drive within half a mile of a semi. Mom's gentle coaching and a good deal of practice finally overcame that fear and left her with the more normal healthy caution most of use around large trucks.

Fast forward to college, and most of her four hour drive home from college is on an empty, undeveloped stretch of I-95. On one trip home, she comes up on a semi who is doing 30 miles an hour on the interstate and, naturally, passes him. A few minutes later he passes her doing 100 or more. But then, she comes up on him again and he's again well under the speed limit. This continues for awhile, and with no exits nearby and no decent alternate route to use even if she took one she can't figure out how to get away from a driver who is obviously falling asleep at the wheel. Finally, she passes him and drives faster than she would normally drive. Thinking she's gotten away from him, she drops back to her normal speed and continues on her way home - probably muttering various imprecations about crazy truck drivers under her breath. Until, she looks in her rearview window just in time to see he's coming up on her again. And this time he hits her. And takes off, leaving her on the side of the empty interstate in the middle of swamp. This is one of the times that I am hugely grateful for the six year difference in our ages, because she has a cell phone with which to call for help. She's fine, the car is not. Needless to say, it took years for her not to have to quell a panic attack when driving near a semi. But, eventually she gets more comfortable, and if she's a little more anxious than the average driver when a semi approaches, well, who can blame her? After all, who gets hit by a semi?

And then last night, my family came over to kick of Christmas a bit early and see us before we head down to my in-laws for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My sister called an end to the party around 10:30, announcing that they were leaving so I could go to bed. (Unlike all the vacationing revelers, I had to work today.) They've been gone around 20 minutes and I'm brushing my teeth when Alex's phone starts to ring on our dresser, and I see my sister's name on the caller ID. She's calling us, because, and I quote, "We were hit by a semi, and I feel like we should tell somebody." (She didn't want to call Mom, who was still driving home her self, and distract from her driving or have her turning around and coming back.) After being reassured that they weren't hurt and the police had already responded, I couldn't help but think what is with her and semis?

And, before you think that there is no way lightning could hit twice and she must be taking risks somehow, both her fiancee and the eyewitness in a car behind them swear she did absolutely everything right. She was properly passing the semi, well within her lane, when the semi changed lanes on top of her. She swerved and avoided being hit by him, and she had even regained control of the fishtailing car when the semi clipped the back of the car, sending them spinning in to the guard rail. (The semi, in case you were wondering, did not stop even though there was no way he didn't know he hit them. The police believed they'd be able to find him by looking for damage on the front of semis stopped along the interstate.) Only because she had steady the car and slowed drastically did they avoid serious injury. The car on the other hand, did not.

So, I put back on my clothes and went to get them. They spent last night at our house, though none of us got much in the way of sleep. We gave them aspirin to head off the inflammation, beer to relax the muscles and The Grinch to soothe the spirit. My big sister instinct wanted to keep them there forever, safe in my house where I could keep an eye on them. But, it doesn't work that way, so this morning I handed them my car keys and hugged them goodbye. I will content myself with being grateful for the Christmas blessing that brought them home to me last night, and mindful of the potent reminder of the most important part of the Christmas season.

I still can't help wondering, though, who gets hit by a semi twice?

December 21, 2008

His and Hers

My Christmas crafting is coming to a close, and I am finally getting around to taking pictures before wrapping things up. This scarf was a last minute addition to my Christmas list. My cousin's and their on-the-cusp-of-being-teenagers kids are coming to Florida to see us for Christmas; the first Christmas I've spent with them since I left D.C. Its also only the second time I've seen the kids since I left D.C. almost seven years ago.

I wanted something special for them, and of course that means handmade. I already had one Rubblework Scarf that I made last Christmas but ended up not gifting when the intended recipient didn't spend the holiday with us after all. I pulled it out, and I knew it was the perfect gift for my young cousin. And, when I found the wonderful solar system fabric, a matching scarf for her brother was a given.

Of course, my to do list was already long and my time short. Fortunately, the Rubblework Scarf is an easy evening's work. I easily finished it up and delivered it, along with its sister, to my Mom. She'll be putting together a basket of goodies to keep them entertained on the long drive back up. We figure these flannel backed beauties will help keep them warm as they leave Florida and head back in to the snow.

(Unfortunately, the colors aren't true in these photos, but they are the closest I can get. The second flannel is not burgundy, but a rich purple.)

December 15, 2008

 We're in full Christmas swing around here, and this weekend was filled with lots of holiday joy.  First, we visited Santa's Tree Farm.  We've already declared it our new tradition.
For one thing, we managed to find a tree that makes both this Florida girl and a boy who grew up with 'real' Christmas trees very happy.  And we visited with the local residents, keeping a safe distance from the Grinch.  He is definitely conflicted about his grinchiness, though.  He kept coming up asking for attention and trying to convince us the big sign was a big lie and we should pay it no mind.But, we felt it safer to go to the holiday party and hang out with an elf who paints faces.  Plus,  we're pretty sure in her contract she promised not to bite.And now we're spending each evening enjoying the glitter of the Christmas tree.  I really love the Christmas season.

p.s. I've also been doing some Christmas sewing.  I'll post photos soon!

December 05, 2008

Pretty as a Picture

Kathy, from Pink Chalk Studio, offered one of her mini wallets recently and all you had to do was give her feedback on which colors you liked best and why.  I would have been compelled to comment on the stack of lovelies anyway.  But, it was a nice surprise when the random number generator picked my comment and I received this pretty little pouch in the mail. The fabrics are lovely and the wallet is very high quality.  

I don't need a mini wallet, but I need a protective case for the pretty pink little camera Alex gave me for my birthday.  Its intended as my 'carry around' camera for all those times you wouldn't take the big (expensive) Digital Rebel, and I carry it in my purse every day.  This little pouch is the perfect size to carry the camera and it looks classy in my purse.  Perfect.

December 04, 2008

Campfire Knitting

I'm a little late telling you about it, but that camping trip I keep mentioning was great.  I grew up camping 9 times a year or more.  I have great memories and great stories of the trips that weren't so great.  We don't often have a chance to camp now, and I really miss it.  So, that was my birthday request this year.  And my family came through in spades - my parents, my sister and her fiancee, her future in laws, and two of the families we camped with during my childhood.  
It was unseasonably cold, though, and we spent the nights and mornings huddled in our coats and around the fire. But, it warmed up during the day and was great. We did some hiking, and some laying in the sun with the dogs. Just look at this pack. No question who is Alpha, is there?  (Trying to count the dogs? Four.  And a husband.  And, look, they are using the picnic quilt I made!)
And when the gloves came off, I sat around the fire visiting with people I love and knitting on the Ribby Pulli.  Heaven on Earth - and some serious progress on a beautiful sweater.
The yarn is definitely not my favorite.  Its stiff, and therefore unforgiving, but more annoyingly each skein has at least one knot and most have more.  The color is beautiful, though, and I think the sweater will look good on.

December 02, 2008

The Ordinary

I was in my office one night recently when I glanced up from the computer and over to my left. My thoughts were immediately pulled from the document I was drafting and captured by this scene. The bright blue of the sign from the bank across the street shining crisply in the dark of the almost-winter sky. The candle, a birthday gift from my assistant, glowing warmly on my side of the window. The african violet that thrives despite the hermetically sealed environment of an office. The piles and piles of paper from a job that gives me challenge, financial independence, and immense satisfaction.

November 27, 2008

Losing Count of My Blessings

November has been full to the brim with wonderful events that are now amazing memories.  We kicked it off with an election we both cared deeply about, and for the most part the results are exactly what we hoped for, giving us great hope for the future.  Then we partied like rock stars at an Indian wedding, celebrated my birthday in a low key way, spent time alone and ate incredible food on our 2nd anniversary, attended a rally to support the civil rights of our friends, kicked off a landscaping project we've been discussing for a year, and camped in the cold with my family and the friends of my childhood to celebrate my birthday in a less low key way.  And now, we're going to wrap it all up in a bright and shiny bow with the traditional Thanksgiving feast.  My family is large and primarily still local, so for us that means 20 people all bringing dishes of food and then sprawling about my aunt's house.  Its beautiful.  

This year, like most years, I don't have to reach very far before I lose count of all the reasons I'm thankful.  And that in itself, is the greatest blessing.  But, in 2008, I am particularly grateful that my grandmother will be with us today, in the midst of the chaos and very likely turning off her hearing aid to deal with the din of the wonderful family she created.

I hope the blessings are as abundant for you and yours.  Gobble till you wobble.

November 15, 2008

Saturday Plans

Alex has to work today, so the alarm went off at the normal time and despite my protests my internal clock insisted it was time to get up.  And then the cat (who is supposed to live outside but understands the concept of the doggie door just fine) appeared at the top of the stairs and announced it was time to get up and put her breakfast out.  What's a girl to do but get up when met with such determination?  So now it is 8:30, I've had my coffee and Alex has left and won't be home for another 12 hours.  The entire day stretches before me, and I'm enjoying plotting how I'll spend it.   

First on my list is apparently a walk with the dog.  She doesn't usually get a morning walk, but she's already informed me that she will be getting one this morning.  (How is it that this creature always knows when I have a free day?)  And then, I plan to brave Ikea to look for curtains.  I find Ikea overwhelming and usually try to avoid it, but they have great curtains on-line and I haven't found curtains I like anywhere else.

But, before I can hang the curtains (should I find them), I'll be making my voice heard with a friend and hopefully several hundred of his friends.

November 08, 2008

Sometimes, More is More

This weekend we attended the wedding of two wonderful people who make an amazing couple. It was also a Hindu Indian wedding and I can't settle on just one or two adjectives to describe it.  Beautiful, Breathtaking, Glittering, Awesome, Musical, Huge are all vying with one another.  Lesson One: if you want to throw an elegant affair, you simply need to invite Indian women and ensure they wear their sari's.  They were beautiful and looked comfortable; I was very jealous and expressed more than once my conviction that I would wear a sari to every dressy event if only I wouldn't look ridiculous.  And there were hundreds of them, wearing saris in every color of the rainbow, embroidered, beaded or floating.  There was food (lots and lots of food), music and dancing.  For the family, this literally started on Tuesday and continued through Saturday night.  We only attended Friday and Saturday, and I was still awed.  When we came in to Friday's celebration, I was told I needed to take bangles.  So, I took one set only to have every Indian woman I knew express concern over the next half hour that I didn't have more.  I finally took another set and no sooner did I put the bangles on my wrist than the groom's mother walked past me and said "good, good" as she patted my wrist.  Lesson Two: less is not more at an Indian wedding.  And, just in case I didn't learn that lesson the first time, the Saturday ceremony was three hours long.  Yes, three hours.  Followed by a cocktail hour and reception with more speeches, food and dancing than I've ever seen in one place.  And I can not begin to describe to you how it is they manage to have half a dozen speeches - speeches, not toasts - and stuff us full of plates of spicy food and still have hundreds of people on the dance floor.  It was amazing.My only regret is that I missed the henna. But, one of the other guests was kind enough to let me take a photo of hers. How cool is this?

November 06, 2008

Ready for Ebony

Little Miss Ebony's Christmas stocking is done, in plenty of time for Mama's baby shower. I'm really pleased with it.

I just hope they don't decide she's not an Ebony when they meet her. Do people do that? Announce a name, but then decide to change it when the baby is born? That thought struck me just as I drew the last line for the 'E' and became irrevocably committed. Oh well, I suppose they can always hang it the other direction, and it will add to the family folklore.

November 04, 2008

A Fresh Start

I started a new sweater last night - a real one with stockinette stitch and long sleeves and everything.  I have hopes this will be a sweater I can finish in under two years and will actually wear.  My knitting speed has improved, and I hope my skills have, too.  I love the pattern.  I love the yarn.  The three rows I've knit so far are making me happy, and the color is perfect.  The yarn is a little stiffer than I'd like, but I think it will all come together just right.

And then today I started a new scarf.  The yarn is an absolutely gorgeous impulse purchase of red silk and seed beads.  It will be a skinny scarf, because what else?  I needed a portable project today, so less than 12 hours after casting on for a sweater, I cast on for a scarf.

I have big hopes for the future.

November 03, 2008

November 02, 2008

Halloween Recap

I'm catching my breath today. This week was a busy one anyway, but then you add two Halloween parties in to the mix and wow. You would think Halloween would be a take it or leave it holiday for a childless couple in their 30s. We, however, have a standing invitation to spend Halloween with one of our favorite kids, and Alex's role as a trick or treating chaperon is very important. (If we're being entirely honest, my presence is purely optional. He's too well-mannered a child to ever, ever admit that, though.) There is absolutely nothing like spending Halloween with children at that perfect age where it is all great fun and none of it is scary. His teen years will be here before we know it, and I'm sure the Halloween parties will be different. And I rather doubt we'll be invited. So, unless we happen to be in Europe for Halloween (like last year), we'll be spending it with our friend while we can.

And then Saturday night was the grown up Halloween party. Its been years since I attended a party of adults in costume with the wine flowing. We had a great time and I'm still chuckling over some of the costumes. My favorite was the "one night stand." She had a fabric night stand front (drawers, etc.) and then a lamp shade on her head. We never got a picture of mine, but up above you can see Alex in his jailbird costume. Apparently, he thinks two years is long enough to be married before you start telling the world you're doing time for the bonds of marriage. Oh, who am I kidding? He's been saying thinks like that since our wedding day. And, if I'm being honest, I'm the one who responded "right here" when someone asked him where his ball and chain were.

All in all, it was great fun, but I was particularly grateful for daylight savings this morning. Today I declared a "day off" and I've used it to do laundry, cook ahead for the week and generally start the week off on the right foot. I told my grandmother about my plan on the phone this morning, and she asked why I would declare today my day off and promptly begin discussing the mountain of laundry I plan to do. When you're used to cramming housework in between a dozen other commitments, the luxury of hours to leisurely get tasks done in is great. (And every parent who reads this blog, just threw tomatoes at the screen. I know, I know.)

November 01, 2008

Counting Down

I was startled to realize I had 32 new messages in my in box today.  It turns out 18 were about the election.  (One was a reminder from my husband - who knows that I have already voted - that early voting ends today.  We won't speculate on what the message behind that one was.)  I can only hope this flurry of activity in my in box is a reflection of the activity at the polls.  That it means America is truly mobilized and energized.  And that we will have a voter turn out that doesn't cause Europeans to shake their heads in bafflement.  

I've read several articles this week about voters who chose not to vote early, because they were so concerned that it was a scam and their votes wouldn't be counted.  Other articles concerned about roadblocks or rumors that legal immigrants would somehow be targeted.  None of the theories fit at all with what I experienced at the polls or anything I've ever seen.  They seemed to speak more of a distrust of our electoral system, and I find that incredibly sad.

I haven't exactly been discreet in my political views here or in 'real life.'  But, whoever you plan to vote for, I hope you will go vote.  Lets prove this is our vote.  As I saw written on a car window last week (in Spanish, actually), "If you don't vote, you don't count."

October 25, 2008

Just a Suggestion

When making bread, one should consider removing any wedding rings before your hands are covered in sticky, half kneaded dough.  However, should *someone* forget to do so, then it is a good strategy to just continue wearing them so that they get a thorough washing with your hands.

I'm just sayin'.

October 20, 2008

Falling Flat

With a couple of hours on Sunday and an hour tonight while Alex is otherwise occupied, I started a Fall table runner. Its a bit of a challenge to myself, just a basic plan for the layout and then working from a jelly roll without worrying overly about the fabrics. I'm not sure I like it...

I'm going to leave it here for awhile and see if it grows on me.

October 18, 2008

This and That

Today has been a day of small accomplishments, wrapping up things that I've 'been meaning to get to.' We ran errands this morning - returning a library book, dropping off a prescription, picking up this for the dog and that for the house. All those little things that just need to get done.

This afternoon, I caught up on crafting. I started this Christmas stocking that I plan to give to a new Mama at her baby shower in two weeks. (Mama's sorority colors are pink and green, and she uses them, wears them, decorates with them... So, of course, I went with a modern Christmas of pink and green. What else?) The cuff and lining fabric doesn't appear to live with me yet, though, so I set it aside to wait until I make a trip to the fabric store.
And since I was still in the sewing mood. I finally finished this little bunny, a project I started weeks ago. I have to admit, I found him much more difficult to make than I anticipated and the flaws are very obvious to me. So, he won't be finding a new home as I had planned. Instead, he'll hang out with me and help in the sewing room. He entertains me, imperfections and all. (Maybe I'll try that pattern again some day. And then again, maybe not. I was really annoyed with all the fiddly bits.)

And then, I hung up my favorite souvenir from Portland. I found myself lingering over these vases every time I passed their stall at the Saturday market, and so one came home with me. It now hangs in my kitchen, and my garden was even kind enough to provide the perfect flower for it. I also envision rooting herbs in it. And displaying pretty twigs of berries. Its perfect for pretty much anything.

October 14, 2008


Some friendships are magic. It has been ten and a half years since I was in a position to see my college girlfriends every day. At times, we have lived on three separate continents and today we span the United States. But, this weekend we were in one place, one time and while almost everything about our lives has changed nothing about our bond has.

With them, I was tough enough to hike up this mountain to the top of Multnomah Falls. (It is every bit as high and steep as it looks.) Those of us from the flat lands were breathing heavily in the thinner air and leaning in to the incline. The mountain girls took the trail like nimble goats. But, we got to the top together.

At the Saturday Market, the differences in our tastes could not have been more apparent. I ogled a silk quilted jacket, while another coveted the marble lions that would look great in her drive. We each knew exactly what would appeal to another, though, often calling out "come look, it looks just like you." Ten years of sporadic visits, but we still know.

We cooked together, played together and talked incessantly. We shared stories, talked about scary decisions, and told inside jokes. I found myself startled when someone shared a bit about their daily life I didn't know, and only on the flight home did it occur to me that what is truly surprising is how much we do know. If you work at it, relationships can be maintained through email and phone calls. But, the occasional chance to share a fall day and an apple - to strengthen that bond with some time together - its precious.

Oregon was beautiful, if a bit cold and rainy, but we could have been anywhere. We just needed to be.

October 07, 2008

Workin' 10 to 4

A local yarn shop moved to a new location this week.  Their new shop is right between my office and my home, so I was pretty excited about the move.  Or at least I was until I checked their shop hours: Monday through Saturday 10 to 4, with extended hours on Wednesday.  Until 6:00.  6:00 is late? To whom, exactly, are they planning to sell their yarn?   

I think I want their work day, though.  

October 06, 2008

A Seaside Celebration

We've been very busy with the business of life recently. Lots of work and lots of play - and for me spurts of progress on my projects.

This weekend we spent three days at the beach, celebrating my little sister's 26th birthday. It was a grand celebration with tons of food, sun and sand. October in Florida is the perfect time for swimming and sand castles with our 5 year old friend, and her 11 week old brother allowed us to cuddle and rock to our hearts content. We did have a mishap when my husband walked off a ten foot sea wall in the dark, but besides a bruised shoulder and a sore knee he's recovered well.

Early in the morning this Thursday I'm off to Portland for a long awaited retreat with my college girlfriends. Despite the long list of things I need to do before going, life really doesn't get any better than this.
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September 22, 2008

Tonight, We Celebrate

Will you raise a glass with me tonight?
Today I was at the adoption of two little girls, there to give it my blessing. My blessing is largely a formality by the day of the hearing, but a great job to have none the less.  Every adoption is special, and its a privilege to have a front row seat.  At this adoption, though, I was not only honored to tell the court I supported the adoption, I was proud.  

Today quite simply would not have happened without my colleagues and I.  It was a hard fought adoption, two years of slogging through a bureaucratic maze that often elevated form over substance and defended incomprehensible delays.  I held that file in my hand for the last time today and thought about the hundreds of phone calls, the tense meetings, the Motions to Compel.  I thought of all the days I fought not to  raise my voice as I listened to yet another excuse, and the days that I lost that battle.  I thought of all the court hearings I left wishing for an aspirin, but instead sitting down to explain to a bewildered adoptive mother why we still didn't have an adoption date and what I was going to do next.  Two years.

Today, it was all smiles and high fives.  Tears from the grandmother, now the mother of the girls she's raised since birth.  The 13 year old telling the Judge that, yes, she wanted the woman who has always been her Mom, to be Mom.  The 5 year old hiding her face in the stuffed giraffe I gave her and then peeking around it to see the Judge declare they were now mother and daughter.  High fives with my colleague and the case manager.

And as I held that file for the last time, I thought about all of that and it was worth every headache, every minute.  Every bit of it.  We couldn't make it work like it was supposed to, but in the end we made it work.  So tonight we raise a glass to the new family of three.

September 15, 2008

Ashley's Quilt

Our friends' recently started a family with the adoption of little Ashley. Naturally, such a long-awaited and wonderful occasion requires the proper amount of celebration and fuss. This is Ashley's Quilt. Cotton and Minke rectangles on the front, flannel backing, embroidery thread ties - I wanted this to be a tactile quilt - and high loft batting turned this in to a cuddly comforter. I'm very pleased with my girly but modern color choices, since Mom and Dad have to look at it, too.

The front was pieced entirely out of my stash, a first for me, and a shortage of the pink fabric inspired this block. I think it might be my favorite part of the quilt.

Here it is all packaged up for Alex to deliver this evening. I used scraps from the quilt haphazardly sewn to the front of card stock to make the card, which contains the care instructions. (I saw this brilliant idea in a tutorial somewhere on the internet just recently. Naturally, I can't find it again.) The whole thing makes a cute little package that I'm happy sending to the new parents.

Wet and Muddy

It was a dark and stormy night...

Some nights you can't get that infamous line out of your head. Just this morning, I was thinking it was worthy of a post to tell you there is not a storm out in the tropics trying to drown us. I apparently forgot just where it is we live. We do not need a tropical storm to get a thunderstorm big enough to turn our streets in to creeks.

All this rain has turned our parks in to mud, too. Sunday I decided that I just had to get out in to nature for a bit. Between the soggy weather and a cold-turned-sinus-infection it had been weeks since I'd done anything more than pull dead plants out of my garden. Gwen was my reluctant partner in the adventure.
As soon as we entered the park, she got suspicious. "Mom, that water looks alot closer to the footbridge than usual. Are you sure about this?"

And she was right. Our normally lazy little creek was more of a stream with a definitive current.

The path, naturally, was mud. She managed to ford it without too much fuss, though.

Eventually, she was simply resigned to her fate. After an hour of my insisting that we cross through mud patches, she gave up and accepted that she would be wet and muddy. Just look at her standing there in the mud! I might turn her in to a real dog one of these days after all.

I came home with mud splattered up to my knees, scratches on my hands and a grin on my face. I needed that adventure in the real world, and I'm so glad we went. It might just be enough to get me through another rainy week.

September 11, 2008


All day today I have had a nagging sensation at the edges of my awareness, the sensation you have when you know you've forgotten something. Only, it's what I'm remembering there around the edges of the business of the day that is bothering me. This is September 11th.

The fact that it has been 7 years since that September 11th does nothing to change the fact that it seems strange, somehow, that the world should go on as usual on this day. And yet, it has been 7 years and I realized today that I'm starting to forget. Not that the date September 11th will ever again be unremarkable; it still gives me a seconds pause any time I use it. Nor can I at all forget the horror of that day, though I know it in fact felt more surreal on that day than it did in the days that followed. I remember an elementary school assignment to ask a grandparent or elder where they were when they hear Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and I remember that my grandmother could immediately and definitively tell me she'd been in the dining hall. There is no question I will be able to tell my grandchildren with that same certainty where I was when I learned a plane had crashed in to the World Trade Center.

I was standing in the middle of my basement apartment in D.C. with my morning coffee. My Tax class had been canceled, and I'd turned on the morning news later than usual. The first footage I saw was the Pentagon engulfed in flames, and for a second I thought it was a movie, and a strange movie to be playing so early in the day. I still remember very clearly the feeling of my stomach tightening as I grasped that this was reality, watching the footage change to that of the World Trade Center.

That moment will always be crystal clear, as will others. But, even the pieces I remember so clearly I find I can't quite put in order. Others, I'm sure I've forgotten. Somehow, I thought I'd always remember it all, though I know the mind doesn't work that way.

I remember calling home to reassure my family and that Dad was home alone. He hadn't yet heard of the attacks. But, was that before or after they located the final plane, the one the passengers crashed in to a field? I think it must have been before. I remember clearly how much that missing plane scared me, and that I stayed inside until it went down. They believed the goal might be to bring that plane to the capitol, and I was living only 10 blocks from the capitol. I remember reassuring Dad that my basement apartment was the safest place I could be, protected by all those bricks and under the ground.

It must have been later when I sat on my steps, with my neighbors, and watched the parade of cars evacuating the Hill - using both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue in a mass exodus. Actually, I guess the word would be evacuation. But, it couldn't have been too much later, could it? I remember my landlady, a federal employee at the Department of the Interior, was able to find a way home by mid-day. But, she praised her cab driver for finding a way to get her home through the maze of re-routed streets, so maybe it was much later.

I know I went back out many times during the day. I took a picture of the sun setting behind the Capitol building, flag flying atop, which somehow felt symbolic to me. I don't actually remember the constant noise of the helicopters and planes (presumably military), but I remember telling others about it weeks later and how in that moment it fit.

At some point, I walked to church and sat talking with my friends in hushed tones. Breathing a sigh of relief each time a new member who was traveling or working at the Pentagon was reported safe, but not really feeling strongly about any of it. This, then, was when I had reached the point that it was all surreal. I even remember briefly discussing whether we were crazy to be gathering even closer to the most likely targets and deciding we needed to be at church regardless. That must have been in the afternoon, because I remember that we sat out on the steps. We needed the fresh air and the sun.

I know I was scared for Kayla, who was still a flight attendant for United that year, and that at some point early in the day I learned she wasn't flying that day. Was I able to talk to her or to one of the girls? I remember it was difficult to get a phone line that day. I must have talked to my family again, to Alex. I don't remember it.

Life does, in fact, go back to normal, and the memories do start to fade. But, I suspect this day will always be different, that there will always be the nagging sensation at the edge of it.

I've always hesitated to write about September 11th. So many have written about it more eloquently than I ever could, and others from a much more powerful point of view. Today I decided to write, because I'm starting to forget and I want to remember. This post is for me.

September 01, 2008

Dabbling in the Arts

I tend to dabble in fabric and yarn, and I've wondered sometimes if that fact will keep me an 'advanced beginner' forever. If I became a Knitter, with a capital K, would I be able to develop the skill for the patterns I envy? Or at least finish a project, any project, in under six months? Would I learn to match my points or have even stitches, if I settled on being a quilter? Does my fear of making up (or even altering) a clothing pattern stem from the fact that I only sew when I'm not quilting, knitting or embroidering?

Probably. If I found the art I couldn't put down, sheer practice would improve my results. But, the last few weeks, when I've been a bit out of sorts, my propensity for dabbling has worked out well for me.
I felt like designing, and so I designed this baby quilt. It is small and simple - a one night project really. But, when my sewing machine and my gimpy leg balked at playing nicely together, I just left it there on the table to be pieced one seam at a time. When and if I feel like it.
Wandering Flamingoes is hanging out on the quilt rack in the living room, so when Olympics watching or my mood has called for the repetitive task of stitching in the ditch there it is. Since this is intended as a Christmas gift, its probably good that real progress has been made even if only for ten minutes at a time.
And then there's my knitting - the project that I find in my hands the most. I've reached the half way point. I'm surprised by how quickly its moving along, but its been a pure pleasure. As long as I'm in the mood. When I'm not, it goes back in the knitting bag and I'm grateful it's not needed until April.
Sometimes nothing will satisfy, and then I take my cue from Gwen. I curl up to dream, to read or to plan. And I'm learning to appreciate the value in that, too.