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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Calendar Girl

Not the pin up kind, silly. The last day of the month, turn the page, get all the weekly appointments down, kind. You know. Monday, tutor and craft night. Tuesday, guild meeting and music lessons. Wednesday; Bible study, Book club, Knit Wits and youth group. Etc., etc.

So, I decided to look ahead and write down all of the things I could think of just off the top of my head. I have said yes, too many times. Heaven help me. Some of the things were commitments made all the way through to the end of the year. Have you ever forgotten to turn the page on your calender and the new month takes you by complete surprise? Has anyone else, forgotten to turn the page, and missed some appointments? Hello? I have been accused of deliberate forgetfulness.

I have been trying to simplify. On behalf of that effort, I just say no. I thought I was really doing well with this!? What up? So, coordinating family reunions, fall family church retreats, summer Bible study, knitting classes, birthday soirées, youth group fund raisers, etc. is my way of saying "no". Your lips tell me "no, no!" but there is "yes, yes" in your eyes. I date myself with those lyrics. Old momma with a soundtrack. I digress.

Adopting my little girl Steezy has put a time limit on every commitment. She is my push me, pull me dog. I love her. Sometimes I hate the needs she has. She has not achieved balance according to Cesar Milan. Being a pack leader is not as easy as it looks. Our brains need to become calm. She needs to be calm submissive, and I need to become calm assertive. That would make every definition of me more palatable. Calm assertive wife and Mom would be good times.

Running away from home is never going to become a reality with this calendar...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Loss and Celebration

In the early hours of Monday morning, our dear friends said goodbye to their beloved grandmother. She was quite a woman. She was at home surrounded by a steady stream of family and friends. Much of the time she was asleep and seemingly peaceful. Yia Yia was a colorful woman full of stories. It was a pleasure to know her. The funeral is tomorrow.

Tuesday I drove a friend to the airport. She was rushing to the bedside of her 47 year old son. Tuesday evening she had to make the decision to remove life support to her youngest child and deliver him home. Bravery and strength. Bev has borne her grief with the kind of peace that only comes from God. Her husband and 2 sons have all died young due to a genetic disease. Yet, she loves to laugh and forward emails.

The loss of life always puts me in the mindset of recognizing and celebrating new or renewed life. Spring is helping me out this week. The trees that bloom are all in flower. The mustard seeds sown by the missionaries along the original California coast to guide them from one mission to the next, are in full bright yellow blossom. The sky is blue and the moon has been full and golden rising in the way that makes it look so much larger than earth. The green grass that marks our winter rains is still in evidence. I plan to go buy and plant some bedding flowers this weekend. I am not much of a gardener. It does not stop me from going to the Home Depot and filling the yard and pots with flowers. When they don't live, I replace them. People are irreplaceable. Enjoy them. Nurture and enjoy...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Designer inspired Design

You saw in a recent blog that I had the pleasure of taking classes with Melissa Leapman. Since my classes 10 days ago, the books I ordered off of Amazon have been trickling in. The class on pattern making was a full on math class complete with work sheets for figuring out your own perfect sweater pattern. I have fallen in love with a dropped stitch cable pattern. It works up so quickly and it is complex enough to add a big WOW factor to any project. Only the knitter will know it is not that difficult. Melissa encouraged all of us to make her ideas our own designs. She likes to mentor designers- even feeble former chart haters.

With that said- I will now attempt to write a pattern for a cardigan in my size, with a cotton/silk/linen blend. It will be perfect for the climate here. I have written patterns for many simple things. Some I have shared here. More often than not- I alter a pattern as I go and never record the changes. I will try to be careful. Sometimes I forget to record everything I do, even when deliberately trying to write my stuff down. I will know I have arrived if I can not only write it down, but chart it as well.

Too much multi-tasking. Right now my teen is at home in bed with a fever cold. The laundry and dishwasher are chugging along. The Netflix is in the DVD player and I just put down the 6th Moebius cowl to blog and check emails. Check out all of the hand knits in the award winning La Vie En Rose. Edith Piaf was a knitter and the movie is full of shawls, wraps, sweaters and projects on the needles to distract me from the subtitles. Knitting and reading subtitles requires me to watch the movie twice. Not all bad...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Meet the Future

Thumbs up for Dominic Michael Wenskay. This little boy is my nephews son. That makes me a great Aunt. Not for the first time. I have another nephew's son out there in MI. Jacob is 15 and a peer of my 15 year old son. What a wonderful trip down memory lane. I wish I were there to hold this bundle of love. Enjoy him! Congratulations...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dog Park Dilemma

My cousin introduced us to the foibles of dog parks this new year. We have been through the gambit of good, bad,and down right scary experiences. Steezy was so afraid the first time that we did not return for almost a month. Then we tried again and she was hooked. Each visit affords her new lessons in pack mentality and the hierarchy of the big dog.

The internet research I have done was extremely disconcerting. Mixed feelings from the pros have me reading late into the night. Stephen King cannot write more frightening prose. I thought it would be a great time for me to knit and Steezy to play.

It has not worked out so far. I must keep my eyes and ears on guard at all times. My little dog runs like a greyhound up and down the playing field. This action resembles prey fleeing and cause blood thirst in some of the biggest dogs. While many owners show excellent control and restrain their animals, others do not. Twice now, my little girl has been grabbed aggressively by the throat. One Akita and one Huskie. I continue to stay close and intervene when necessary. We left the park on those occasions. Every other time has been pure joy. We leave with every ounce of energy expended. Steezy plops into her bed and sleeps like a baby. I plop down to knit , unmolested by wet, dirty, happy dog snouts in my lap of yarn...

Happy Birthday Mom

March 12, 1927. My mother was born. She died on February 12, 1994. I always remember her on her birthday. I always wonder if anyone else does. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it- did it make any noise? My mom made noise, and the noise continues in my head, my heart and my dreams. I read an interesting and thoughtful book today. The Shack. Written by William Paul Young. It is reminiscent of the book -Joshua, that swept the nation back in the 80's. I will read Paul Young's book again and write notes in the margin. Now, I pass it on to people to read, before I jot down my private notes of revelation.

I will save the discussion for book club. But, I must confess all fingers point to some kind of spiritual soul searching era. My Netflix showed up and the movies are "Amazing Grace" and "Narnia"? The idea that we can fully trust and rely on God as the only way to survive this life, may be sinking in. Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. I talk about what is on my mind.

I am so very proud of the Knitwits and our Four Seasons Quilt KAL. Everyone is doing so well. Many are on to square #3. This is a tricky 12 row repeat. The spiderweb is it's name,and it has entrapped a few of the knitters. I am so encouraged by their persistence and results! When we complete this, I plan to teach them intarsia and 2 handed knitting. The excitement is palpable...

Helpful hints 3rd edition

#1. Before beginning a pattern, read the entire pattern from beginning to end. If you plan to make changes mark the changes now throughout. Of course this is on a photocopy and not the original.

#2. When following tricky pattern stitches or charts, use a sticky note to underscore the line you are knitting.This is even easier if you have slipped the pattern copy into a page protector sleeve. You may purchase these clear plastic sleeves at your local office supply.

#3. Always slip stitches purlwise unless otherwise noted.

#4. Keep shout wipes in your purse and knitting bag. Especially if you like to knosh and knit. What a great title for a book...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Odd Stuff

It is still winter in most of the country. We are experiencing SPRING. Shorts, tees, flip-flops and the beach. Weird to reconcile with the eastern relatives.Odd.

I went to a local Mexican drive-thru to order a fish taco. My favorite food. It was so odd to have my order taken by a WASP that spoke perfect English. That just does not happen at McDonalds. Odd.

Teenagers are so literal. With the warm weather comes chapped lips. Evan asked for Chapstick. I gave him a generic. He has a crusty mouth and I asked why he was not using his "chapstick"? He said I gave him suncreen for the lips and that was not what he wanted? He wanted a moisturizer! Odd.

My nephew and his wife have a new baby boy. The first in our family. Dominic is wonderful. The photo of Jeff holding his son has jarred me in such an emotional way. Where has the time gone? What is a kid? Odd.

Time is flying. What do You see? We are having our sunset season. The colors every night are not justified by photos. The best pictures we all have are in our brains. Can't scrapbook those memories. Odd.

Melissa Leapman Converts Chart Hater

I am a self taught knitter. My Mom's best friend gave me size 2, bent aluminum needles and yellow fingering yarn. She showed me the garter stitch and I began knitting headbands. I designed my first item of clothing by knitting a bathing suit for my Barbie doll with those needles and same yarn. My mom gave me "The Complete Book of Knitting". Published in 1947 and written by Elizabeth Mathieson, I began to knit all that I could understand. She had attempted to knit socks for soldiers during WWII and hated it. She was an accomplished seamstress, but all thumbs with the knitting needles.

There is not one chart in that book. Every instruction is written out; line, by line. That is my training. As charts became more popular, I resisted learning. I tried a few times over the years with little success. I found charts to be an exercise in frustration. I refused to knit charted patterns.I was a self avowed "chart hater"!

Do you know one? Are you one? Well, let me introduce you to Melissa Leapman. She has such a great story to tell. She is a gentle and quiet teacher. Very intelligent and able to make sense of the senseless. She has wonderful books and patterns available, many discounted at
I took 2 classes with her on Thursday, back to back. That was my day of enlightenment. I am fully converted and on fire for charts. She gave me the answer to the burning questions I had. It makes sense. I can now read and knit from charts with ease. I may even like charts for cables and lace. I plan to seek them out from now on. Wow!

She is a tiny little missionary. I called her a coat hanger with the greatest affection. She is an effective teacher. I learned so much and had fun. The time flew. I anxiously await the arrival of her books. I knit until midnight last night to keep practicing some of my new moves.

Another knitting rock star. Thank you North Coast Knitters Guild for bringing this caliber of talent to our group. It is a pleasure to sit with so many fine knitters of all skill levels in the great equlizer. The classroom...

Knitwit Tips #2

When taking classes that require swatches or homework, please have them done in advance. What a waste of time to wait for the unprepared.

When doing a 12 block knit along, start with block #1. Do not confuse needle size with block number.

Remember the internet if you are at home and need help. You can enter anything into your preferred search engine. Help is just a click away. This is true about any question you have about almost anything. has used knitting books, as well as deep discounted new books to expand your library and skill levels.

Old dogs can learn new tricks.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Knitwit Tips

As the knitwits work diligently on our KAL Four Seasons Quilt/Afghan, I have been accused of not informing my students of all the helpful hints and tricks up my sleeve. It is true. Often the issue and answers are shared as the occasion arises. So I have decided to share helps here as they come up.

Tip 1:
This is a pattern of many pages, full of options and combinations. Photocopy the pages you will need. Slip them into a clear plastic page protector sleeve. Use a large colorful paper clip, or a sticky note to move line by line down the pattern page.

Tip 2: Staple the yarn ball label to your pattern or slip it into the sleeve so you never forget what you can't remember.

It All Depends

What happens when 30 women gather at a lovely resort condominium for a retreat based on the power of prayer? Several of the women are Knitwits. Some are in my book club. Some, are such good friends that I consider them my family here in California. Others, I have met for the first time. There are speakers and leaders. Listeners and followers.We have the best retreats ever. We have meaningful lessons with time to concentrate on spiritual growth. We also play games and have girlfriend time served up with outstanding wine and appetizers. The combination of camaraderie, cuisine, laughter and knitting. Really, can there be a better weekend for moi?

The pendulum was swinging. Deep sharing (like only girlfriends can) and deep laughter at the expense of our own follies with life. I have decided to change the names to protect the innocent.

If you were there and you are reading this,do your thighs burn and your hip sockets feel turned inside out? That crazy Christian yoga has awakened energy in muscles left to atrophy. The abrupt wake up call has left my legs feeling crabby and out of sorts. Advil, anyone?

So, let's call her Pinkie. What a delight. Mom of 3. Full time RN, intelligent, articulate, sensitive and as cute as a Barbie doll. She just held court Friday night. In a room full of friends with conversation rapid firing across the table top- I caught a line that made me laugh. Pinkie was talking about her "Article Club." Sitting to my left was my good friend Wisconsin, flanked by Queenie and Classy. Wisconsin is about all things academic. I sarcastically asked her if Pinkie said Article club as a derivative of (for instance) a Book club? Could that be further reduced for the truly short on time to the "Paragraph Club", "Sentence Club" or how about the "Headline Club"? I thought I had surely heard wrong. Classy interjected that indeed there exists an Article club and membership is by invitation only. She knew ladies that belonged. Wisconsin and I were incredulous. This club could not have a chapter in Boston or Ann Arbor? How did it work? Pinkie informed us that all of the members present copies of their "article?" and they took them home to read. That leaves time for lunch with wine. She confessed that sometimes they just skip the article completely! Queenie and I propose we immediately form a Physics Club. We will meet monthly for lunch, cocktails and (con)fusion.

Menopausal women late night, laugh-athon. Diapers optional. Early morning Soul Dance Yoga. I had to channel my own inner slut to pull off the moves that are making me tear through the cupboards in search of Vicodin. Breath in, exhale out and pray. Was that a prayer for Depends? It all depends on who attends...