Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm not very fond of New Year's Eve. I've done quiet at home with the family for my Mom's birthday with cream cheese and olive sandwiches. I've gone to fancy restaurants on dates. I've partied with people who drank huge amounts. I've drunk huge amounts. I've made many courced intricate and ntimate dinners for just the two of us. I've had family game nights with stew and chips.

It always leaves me unfulfilled.

I don't usually make New Years resolutions because I don't feel motivated by the turn of the year. I suppose the start of the school year always seems like the new year to me.

However, motivated by the questions that other people have asked me and the cold truth of single parent post-christmas light I have made 2 resolutions. 1)I resolve to keep my paperwork in order and under control. 2)I resolve to find joy in something every month.

I hope your new year is full of joy and love.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whew, I've made it through most of the holiday season. It's been tough. My parents and my sister were a huge help! They came up for about a week, picked up my slack, had low expectations for me, and loved me and hugged me.

It was tough for all of us. The MILofJoy came on Christmas Day and was cheerful and grateful to be with us (mostly the kids I think).

We had a ham for my Dad's birthday (also roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, and no sugar icecream pie) and turkey for Christmas. Boxing Day we had our traditional Indian food but we bought the entrees out and only made the veg, rice, and bread. This sort of compromise made life easier.

Christmas Eve, the boy was boat bearer for the evening church service. It was lovely and crowded and we sang great carols. I read the Genesis bit about the Fall. Christmas Day the middle child was boat bearer for the noon service which was less crowded but still lovely. The best thing? I got to sit through both services including the sermons because there was no church school. I love the Christmas Day service because people bring their gifts to the altar rail to be blessed and our priest REALLY loves to see and bless each thing personally.

I finished the sweater for my eldest on Christmas Day. I say finished but it needs to be blocked and is a bit short in body and sleeves. If I cannot get a few inches out of it (they said the silk blend would stretch with wearing) I will undo the cuffs and hemline and add a few inches. The 16.5" sleeves ended quite a ways up the wrists. However, the colour and shape are BEAUTIFUL on dd.

I'll try to get her to try it on for a photo.

I got very nice books for Christmas. Terry Pratchett, S. M. Stirling, Zimmerman....

We only saw my dh once over the week and that was yesterday. He bought the kids appropriate gifts (1 each, not too expensive) and spent an hour with them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I've been madly knitting a sweater/top for my eldest. She knows the colour and that I'm making it for her and she has even tried it on while blindfolded but she doesn't know the pattern. It is the Simple Bodice from StitchDiva. I am more than halfway down the first sleeve. One more sleeve and the neckline to go. I was deluded (again at Christmas - how does that happen) into thinking I had plenty of time until I realized how little I had done in early December. I've been knitting during my free moments ever since.

This past weekend brought another crisis of self. My kids casually asked when we were going to get a tree and I realized I hadn't even thought about it. It all crashed in on me at once. Getting the Christmas tree was an event for my husband and the kids. They always got up early and journeyed out to a tree farm where they stalked the perfect tree, chopped it down, and drove home sipping cider or hot chocolate. Then he and I would work together to chop the extra branches and trunk off the tree so it would fit in the house. We'd all decorate it together. I don't know anything about the place they went, how much it should cost, or what they looked for (or he looked for). I know he was specific and the tree was always lovely. I asked him about the place they went and he said it had closed. I kind of had a minor breakdown to some friends about the whole thing. There are a few things I'm having trouble facing - buying all the presents, the tree, organizing the menus and some of it I am just ignoring. That doesn't work very well. I sucked it up and decided that getting a tree was more important that having a wonderful family tradition, we can build that anew later. After school we slogged by the library and hit a nursery that was selling Christmas trees. We picked one out and were back in the car 10 minutes later. The girls helped me get it in the house and set into the stand (the boy is on an overnight field trip for school). I acknowledged how hard it was to do this without him. We felt pretty good about what we did and how it got done.

Tomorrow night we will decorate.

Oh, I started a new job today. I am special ed aide for 4 1st grade boys. It pays as well as being a long term sub but without the onus of keeping sequential workdays going. It totally sucked to have to miss a day when the kids had a breakdown. It cost me $20 a day for the next 16 days. But what could I do? I couldn't very well say Sorry you are depressed and frantic and anxious and in need of comfort and therapy and perhaps medical care but I have to go to work...try to hold on until I get home. I had to care for them and nurture them and get them help. Really, that option is unacceptable.

The Christmas feeling is coming. I felt it on Sunday and every night when we read light the Advent wreath and sit together for dinner.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I started cataloging my yarn onto Ravelry. The first bin down was mainly fun fur and acrylics.

Our dog had to be banned from the room because he kept stealing balls of yarn. Being banned made him very sad but not reformed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I can keep moving every day from home to work and back, filling all my hours with actions and thoughts of keeping the family working, alive, fed, schooled, clean. Most nights I can fall into bed so exhausted that I have no thoughts other than the lovely feel of the sheets and the weight of the blanket. But sometimes I stop. There is blank time or a blank mind. Or even worse because I haven't dealt with my feelings and personal thoughts for quite a while they pop out while I'm doing the routine things.

Today was one of those days. In trying to make a quiet thankful place for myself I had to feel. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. This is the first time I've ever been away from him on this day. Last year at this time he was home and I had hope. Hope for our relationship, hope for him, hope for our family as a single unit. I don't have that kind of hope today. I have hope that the kids and I can forge something stable. I have no expectations that my husband will ever integrate with us or work with me to co-parent, even from separate homes.

At church they remember our birthdays and baptism or wedding anniversaries in the epistle (announcements and calendar) and with prayer on that day or week. Our anniversary had been removed or forgotten. I didn't ask for that to happen. I'm not sure what I would have done if I had been called on to come to the font for a blessing but I was also shocked and grieved to have it left out. I wasn't happy either way.

Tonight before she went to bed my 15 year old told me she felt alone and it was all I could do not to crumble into a weeping mound. I was able to tell her I understood to some extent and I often feel the same way.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow. Shoot, I'm not looking forward to the next week or month but tomorrow is a black well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I heard on the news today (good grief it must have been a slow news day) that Oprah had released her 2007 list of Favorite Things.

Here are my current favorites. Enjoy!

Favorite Facial Cleanser:
Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser This cleanser works for me because my skin is weirdly normal but if I mess with it reacts with excessive oiliness AND dry patches. Back in the day I couldn't wait to be old enough to use Noxema and then it burned several layers off my face and a few hours later oil was dripping off my forehead. With the orange cleanser, I get clean and moisturized without trauma. A couple of years ago I got contact dermatitis on my underarms (ouch) and I found that after I washed my face in the shower if I used the leftovers on my hands for my underarms, the rash got better. YMMV. I have also often used and keep in the house Burt's Bees lip balm and Farmer's Friend (I've used it on hands, feet, face, lips, and baby bottoms).

Favorite National Parks: I have to do two because the National Mall is considered a park. Pisgah National Park is a great place to hike and camp and holds the absolutely exhilarating Sliding Rock. Large sections of DC including the Smithsonian museums, the Arboretum, the Memorials, and the C&O Canal.

Favorite Charity: Heifer International for the practicality of the method and needs met. Plus I just get all happy thinking of people receiving bunnies, sheep, or bees to sustain their families and communities.

Favorite Blog: Making Light is wonderful! I knew almost nothing about publishing when I first started reading ML and now I know a little more, and it is interesting, but really the comments and sidebars and articles are varied and silly and intelligent and ummmm arete.

Favorite Kitchen Appliances: Our KitchenAid Mixer which was an expensive engagment gift but has worked without problems for 18 years. I've used it weekly to knead our bread and pizza dough since I started having problems with my hands. I've made sweet high meringues, sticky marshmallows, cookie doughs of all sorts, and to many sauces to name. My few accessories for it include a dough hook, paddle, whisk, and splash guard. Ok, I own the splash guard but I haven't seen it since last year; it is here somewhere. It wipes down easily and the accessories always come clean in the dishwasher. I also love my OXO can opener; even my kids can open tomato sauce or tunafish cans with it.

Favorite Dancing Around the House Music: It does depend on my mood but lately there is a lot of Michael Franti and Spearhead - catchy music, singable, and good messages. Visiting 3 year olds left singing "All the funky people make the beauty of the world". Also getting a lot of play time are Me First and the GimmeGimmes because what can beat a punk cover of Delta Dawn (lots of their other stuff sui the answer).

Desperation Music: When I'm feeling like a taint bit of wallowing in my despair and grief, Ray Lamontagne keeps me company.

Favorite Fruit: Right now I'm luxuriating in the beauty and flavour of pomegranates. Today I introduced my class to pomegranates and persimmons. There were gasps of awe when I cut the persimmon in half and the internal patterning was revealed. More gasps welcomed the first glimpses of the jewel like pomegranate seeds. I've never followed the advice of the linked website and so my hands are generally stained during this season.

Favorite Longlasting Dog Toy: Our dog LOVES Tuffies and our toy has lasted for more than a month through daily heavy duty play.

Favorite Entertainment Systems: Netflix, Public Libraries, and 96 Crayons with a couple of Bellerophon colouring books.

Favorite Fast Food: Pollo Rico if not this exact one then one like it - a hole in the wall with delicious and fragrant rotisserie chicken sandwiches and yuca fries.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A whirlwind of a weekend. Genetics are funny; all three of my children are extroverts but my husband and I are introverts. We would be happy spending the weekend with one other person or largely alone and visit with friends or family once or twice a month but the kids like to see other people ALL the time, pretty much.

Friday was another tough teaching day. Friday night was our regular pizza and movie (most recent episode of Survivor and Project Runway). Saturday morning we raced out to Kolhl's around 7:30 so the girls could look at and try on some clothes they saw online; nothing was bought. Then we went into town for our parish reconciliation day. IMO, lots of people needing reconciliation did not show up. LOL! but some of us did and we needed it as well. The process was a little vague for me; I really like a set of discrete steps and while the plan was to have three sets of reading interspersed with mediations and then speakingof things we heard or thought of from the reading followed by eucharist the reading/mediation/talking parts got smooshed together. Father M. who ran the day had a stream of consciousness method of reading and explaining the scripture readings and I found it hard to concentrate. I suppose I really wanted more meditation time. HOWEVER, I thought several times throughout themorning how grateful I was to have this open process rather than a leader who would say

It is 9:30, we will do A, B, C and you will have reached reconciliation by 12:30. Hey, it's almost 12, get with the program and reconcile already. there, you are done.

Instead Father M told us that reconciliation is a gift from God and we will each reach it in our own time and way. We must each personally be open and prepared. In each of us guilt and hurt are mingled and we cannot just decide that we will forgive or be forgiven unless we are at the right place and that will take time. The time will be different for different people and we may be ready to forgive before the other people are ready to ask for it or to apologize and that is ok. It is our own process that is important NOT where other people are and how they are doing (other than that we care in a community way and wish to pray for and help others as we can). Reading the scriptures, prayer, and mediation are parts of readying ourselves as is talking in the community.

Anyway, it wasn't what I would have chosen but it worked for me.

We were home for a few hours and then spent the evening with friends talking, laughing, and hugging their children and mine.

On Sunday we went to church where the children sang in the youth choir and they were BEAUTIFUL! They all sang out clearly and with confidence. There was a nice feast prepared by the choir and then we went to a joint merger meeting from 1-3. I managed to stop for groceries on the way home. I was tired when I got home and even more tired when I realized I hadn't made the week's bread, done the laundry, swept or washed the floors, or done any knitting. It took until very late but I got most of the bread made, the laundry done, and I vacuumed the floors.

I also finished the Unoriginal hat (a little small for me but it fits the kids well) and started on a headband. Most of my sisters and both my daughters have long hair so I thought headbands would make nice stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Tomorrow: the Thanksgiving plan.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't mind me! Turns out I was using the wrong needles. REALLY wrong needles. I've frogged and will start again on the weekend.

The good news is that I managed to remember that it was Thursday all day long. I got everyone to therapy on time and home again and I made it to the vestry meeting on time. Saturday is my next checkpoint; there is a reconciliation meeting and some shopping has been planned by the kids.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

As a break from the pink hoodie (my eyes are burning and my thumb tendons ache) I cast on for the Unoriginal Hat from Yarn Harlot. Then I frogged it and cast on again on larger needles, twice. It is now on size 10 needles and it still looks tiny. It looks like it would be a lovely cuff for a sweater for me. Well, maybe a little big for a cuff. Also a little out of focus in this shot.
The colour is actually gentler than the photo suggests.
On the substitute teacher front - one of 2nd graders called me Home Skillet. That is so....10 years ago, maybe even older. The same child shared something surprising about himself...he can take down an 18 year old. I suspect he has an 18 year old sibling who indulges him. OTOH, I'm not going to tempt him to take down a 40something; I might not be able to get up.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ravelry called!

Oh, I could spend hours and hours just grazing and I have.

In other knitting news, I finally finished my I Love Gansey socks. The yarn is Socka 6-fach Color in color 9518 lot # 35341. I like the cables but the hearts don't show up well in this colourway. The yarn split easily and seemed to come unspun as I knitted it. However, the yarn knitted up beautifully and the socks feel wonderful, just slightly huggy not too tight or too loose. It's a 62 stitch pattern after the cuff which is smaller than I usually use. I used about 2.5 skeins at 125 m per skein.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm still knitting. I'm still working on my I Love Gansey socks. (grumble) I do love them! I love the big cables and the small cables. I do not love the yarn (Socka) but it is comfortable. I am not loving the size 2 bamboo needles which are already starting to splinter. I do not love how long these socks are taking and I want to wear them NOW, TODAY, maybe tomorrow. (sigh) I'm on the plain part of the foot heading towards the toes.

The knitting is slow going because I get no time at school to knit. This is not one of those classrooms where the substitute sets out the rules, starts the work plans into motion, and then sits back using her Teacher Gaze pat. pend. to keep the order. No, this is definitely not that kind of class. This is a classroom where the rules are gone over and over and over and consequences are named and carried out but there is need for constant vigilance. I have never seen a Montessori classroom with such misuse of materials and disrespect to peers, materials, and teacher. It does make me feel inadequate, lacking something. I have called in help. I have seen veteran teachers and administrators of 35 years with their mouths agape and their lessons brought to a halt by a series of plucking hands and talking mouths. I'm glad it wasn't just me.

It's not that I planned on knitting during classtime - though it has happened before - it's that during my 30 minute lunch I generally lose 5-10 minutes to dealing with problems in the hallway from my class and the entire planning period is spent checking work plans and dealing with the administrative detail of getting help for those who need supplemental oversight and school authority feedback to students and parents about discipline issues. As a substitute, the county prefers that I not interact too much with parents and that I get school ok for any discipline related actions. Today I Tomato Staked a few kids; I kept them right by my side, in my sight, and within reach the whole day. It helped. The problem is that out of nine 1st graders five need serious educational support.

I was excited this morning because it was Thursday but sometimes before 11am I forgot it was Thursday and I missed 2 meetings and a very inportant Vestry meeting. I was also suppposed to take a dessert for the vestry dinner (I volunteered and was looking forward to it). I'm lucky I remembered to go to family therapy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Today I had to report for jury duty. This is only the second time I've been called for jury duty in the 27 years since I registered to vote. The last time (also my first ever time) was also in this county and State about 10 years ago. Last time I was in several jury pools and then discarded during voire dire. This time I sat for several hours. I was sorted into a pool of 55 jurors for a criminal trial but we never left the jury pool room and were dismissed in the early afternoon.

I went in cheerfully even though $15 isn't close to my daily wage and I don't get paid if I'm not at work. During our orientation all the jurors watched a movie about the jury and trial process which concluded with effusive comments on the responsibility and importance of juries in our legal system. I almost choked! Last time, I was on the jury for a murder trial. The jury found the defendant innocent (the case was not properly prosecuted) but a few monthes later the prosecutor called me at home to say that our jury had done a terrible job (Good grief!) and the judge had set aside our verdict and sentenced the defendant to hefty prison time. The prosecutor also told me (quite inappropriately) information about the defendant that had not been made known to the jury during the trial. After the prosecutor called, I reported him to the State's Attorney but I never heard anything else about him. It made me think today - Why the heck would I sit on a jury if the judge is allowed to set aside the correctly discerned verdict of a jury of peers for his or her own opinion? Why bother with the constitutional niceties? Nevertheless I stayed and waited my turn. I got a lot of sock knitted; I was hoping to finish it because it matched my ouitfit better than the orange striped socks I threw on in the car. It was chilly this morning!

I finished one Christmas present hat. I have the yarn and pattern for one Christmas present top and I have started on a Christmas present pink hoodie with skull.

Mmmm, dinner smells good! We are having meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes, and salad. The children will have some of their huge Halloween candy stash.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last night was knitting night and we went. We are making it to the store to sit and knit about twice a month. Last week we were meeting with the Bishop and missed the knitting; knitting would have been more pleasant.

I didn't have much fun last night. I'm not sure what made it feel wrong.

1)It's a bit of a drive from our house; about 15 miles which isn't too far but is a 25 minute drive at least.
2)We have music lessons from 5-6pm and go straight from there to the knitting store; this means we either buy dinner out or pack something we can eat in the car.
3)We got to Sit'nKnit just after 7pm and there were no more seats available in the main section so the kids and I sat in a smaller couch chair circle but nobody joined us so conversation was between me and the kids and we talk all the time anyway.
4)The kids, who urged me to attend, asked multiple times very shortly after we arrived when we could leave. Then the girls asked for permission to go to the general store across the street where they bought chocolates for themselves. They did not take the boy with them.
5)I cast on twice for a Christmas present hat because I wasn't getting gauge. I worked out the gauge issue but then found that I could barely keep the stitches on the dpns I was using, I'm not sure if I have a circular in this needle size.

It's a long trip after a long day for (at least last night) very little benefit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The dog is nuts. It has been raining off and on for two days and he acts afraid of the rain...most of the time. For instance, today he had to be coaxed out of the house in a bare mist , he chased the ball once and ran back to the porch. He could not be persuaded to leave the porch and he whined and scratched at the door. He finally peed after an amazing 12 hours of waiting. Any drop of rain coming towards him, any wet leaf on the ground or grass was enough to send him cringing back to shelter. That was except for at 11:30 last night and again tonight when he wanted to walk and walk. Tonight it was pouring and still he wanted to walk around the neighbourhood sniffing and peeing (especially the boxwoods - there is something about boxwoods). So what is the catalyst for his change? I want to invoke it earlier tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sock in Bearfoot was on the needles early this year. This pair was for my husband.

Not in order of knitting but in order of photo availability...Fair Isle socks--my first colourwork!

Pink and blue felted slippers from stash ends. You can't see the cuffs in this photo but the cuffs are colour reversed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I miss physical contact. I dream of a hand on my back. I need physical giving instead of draining.

I also am feeling, suddenly and at odd times, the loss of 20 years of shared experiences. You know how your family and friends remember your shared experiences slightly differently? I like how that gives depth to my memories. I feel like huge parts of my life, almost half, are suddenly unsupported. If I reference that trip to Cocoa Beach nobody knows what I mean anymore. When I say that dress looks a "little bonchy in the back" no one smiles, people look concerned. All those things we used to remember with just a word or a look are alone in me and I can't trust them anymore to be three dimensional. I'm afraid they will slip away and I won't realize it. I'll forget that we called butt crack from low hanging pants in middle school boys "William's" and why. What have I already forgotten? Not love. Not good times. Not smoked mozzarella and sundried tomato cheesecake. Something else.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Here's the deal.

My friend for 20 years and husband for 16 left us (me, three kids) twice in just over a year. It was a huge shock to us the first time and less of a shock the second time. I've, we've, lived the last 2 years in crisis mode. We grieve. We're in therapy. We have been immersed in mental health issues and fallout, medications and diagnoses.

I am in a lot of pain. I felt unable to blog about it; I could barely talk about it with my closest family. I read other blogs and felt supported and helped and not so alone but I couldn't bring myself to comment and here I was silent. I was worried about privacy and linking to my life. I started an anonymous unlinked blog but the whole situation of my life became an elephant in the corner at my party. I became unable to share anything on my blog because I was avoiding that which was affecting me the most.

Lately, I've considered closing down all presence on the web but I decided instead to open myself up. It feels more honest and hopeful.

We'll be ok. We are damaged but hopeful in the main part. We keep going because I don't see a viable alternate. I keep going and doing the best I can for myself and our kids.

I hope I can breathe after this.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Whimper Woof...tough day for this Sheep Dog.

A lot of teachers called in sick today, the number of teachers missing from the Annex (all 9th graders) made me consider that they were having a sick out but apparently it was all a coincidence.

What made it tough? several things:

I had several difficult batches of sheep; though most of the sheep did their work with personal flair (fine with me) a few sheep in each flock felt that they did not have to do any of the work their shepherd left or felt that I was a threat of some sort.

First period went overtime by 20 minutes although we were expecting it to be shortened by 15+ minutes. There was a very long Black History Month assembly. Yes, February was Black History Month. Give us a break we had snow days. It was an educational and amusing show with some knockout performances but it was horribly loud, ear hurting loud, want to cover your ears to protect them but you don't think you can do that without offending the participants loud. The show was also choppy with too long breaks between acts and tech problems.

Due to the class timing, long assembly, and large number of teachers absent I had only a 25 minute lunch break the whole day (no planning period). This meant that I had no time for a bathroom break between 7:40 and 11:10 and during that time I also had to eat and get the office to print out formal sheep lists so I could take attendance.

One of my students was absent. Seems she ran off with her 21 year old boyfriend. They want to get married. Yes, she is in 9th grade. Yes, she looooves him. Yes, it is illegal. Her family had no idea she was dating him. Their plan is to hide until her parents give permission for a marriage (I'm pretty sure that by state law she must be at least 15). Through all the drama of the telling of the story, precipitated by my calling her name on the roll, brought this story to my mind Read it, I'll wait. Makes me despondant. I just cannot seem to express all of what I am feeling but some of it is anger; anger that a woman who is 27 has a 16 and 17 year old and obviously something went wrong and there wasn't anyone more adult through the years (or maybe just lately) making sure that this young mother and her not that much older husband were parenting in a humane way. And sadness, sadness at what must have happened to both these parents that they thought this was ok and sadness at what these children have now experienced. And sadness at what it means to all our teenagers. But just a little hope and joy that a teen somewhere was upset and worried and took her concerns to the authorities and some good came of it.

And that, dear readers, was not the worst. During my last class (after the lunch and potty break) I had two sheep come in acting drunk. I don't know if they were really drunk or just acting as they thought drunk people should act but they were stumbling, giggling, running into doors, singing, and hanging their heads and torsos out the window to get some cool air. If they had been drinking in school then they needed help and if they were acting then they needed discipline. One sheep braved a comment about drinking. I woofed the class into place and while little groups of sheep surrounded each student to try to keep them safe and deflect authority notice, I called security. The guard came and escorted my two dishevelled sheep away. The two black sheep took no notice of me or the guard and seemed perplexed at what they were being asked to do. Most of the other sheep were irate that I called security but several looked relieved. I will just say that calming a flock after that sort of incident is difficult even if there was a nice amount of work to set them on. After school I spent 25 minutes filling out the correct referral forms documenting the afternoon.

Then, to top it off, a sheep tore a newspaper into small pieces and it ended up all around his desk on the floor. He denied all responsibility for the mess though he admitted to the tearing. He wouldn't clean it up, changed his story several times, was rude, called me a bitch, refused to show his ID, and refused to tell me his name. I called security again and the guard came and dealt with him. Though somehow he had an ID in plain view when she arrived, she did not accept his protestations that I had made the whole thing up and was lying; she escorted him away.

I hate calling security; I feel like a failure. Maybe I should be a Mother Hen or a Goose Girl or a Pirate on the Wide Accountant Sea. Maybe I'm not cut out for the Sheep Dog life.

and maybe a little I'm scared of sending my own gentle sheep into this flock


Knitting pictures I need to take and share: warm shawl, pink and blue slippers, most of a sock

Tomorrow I am visiting a NEW yarn store. I have high hopes and they have a SitnKnit night on Wednesdays so I want to try it then as well.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'm not sure how well this photo will show.It is a closeup of the birch. Have I ever mentioned that I knit strangely? Perhaps not since I didn't realize it until recently. I knit into the back of all stitches and purl into the front of all stitches. The product looks exactly the same as other knitting I have seen as far as I can tell. However, there may be a problem with lace knitting. I noticed that some of the yarn overs didn't show up very well; it was like half the pattern dissolved.

Birch in Rowan Kid Silk Haze being blocked on the sofa cushions of the guest house we stayed in for Christmas. Not only did I finish it before New Years Eve (the recipient's birthday) but I finished it in time to give it to her so that she could open it while we were still there. She was astonished at how light it was and the warmth it gathered around her. It is the perfect shawl for an older woman in a temperate climate.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wow, that was fast! He was quite biddable. These are felted slippers from in Nashua Handknits Painted Forest colourway. They are knit as humonguous socks and then felted to fit. There were some felting issues which ended up bring the first set of slippers (in Lamb's Pride) to my youngest child. LOL! and another mistake with yarn that led to one slipper being cut up and stuffed for use as a dog toy.
The hat is from Sally Melville's Purl book and the scarf uses Cat Bordhi's techniques. The yarn is a marvelous bulky extremely soft wool that I got at Maryland Sheep and Wool festival last year. It was hideously expensive but I bought two skeins because it was exactly the right mixture of blue and grey that I knew my husband would love. I have made him moebius scarves from 3 different yarns (two of which he chose) which were not satisfactory and this scarf was reknit three times to get the correct fabric, length, and width. The scarf used just over one skein, the hat took less than one skein, and I have a hefty (though low yardage) ball of yarn left over.

Knitting news without photos - I am sorry to say that I have no pictures of the Irish Hiking Cable scarf and Sally Melville Purl Stitch hat I made for my cousin/brother for Christmas.

I will see if I can get my husband to model the hat and moebius scarf that I made him...and the felted slippers he got for Valentine's day.

IKAT Scarf - From 1 skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot 60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon in the Pheasant colourway. This photo is too dark but I had to rush the photography when the camera battery was low. I knit this scarf in the car on the way home from North Carolina and had to gift it less than 24 hours after we arrived home. It was lovely and soft before blocking but was tending to roll a little on the edges. I have another skein of Pheasant which is on the needles now becoming socks.

IKAT Scarf - knit to the left. I love this pattern! In Noro from 2 skeins. It blocks out all lovely and soft and was given as a gift.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The thing about substitute teaching is that you aren't really teaching. As a Sheep Dog, I round up students and keep them safely within the classroom and building boundaries but I am rarely asked to teach. I am always a little thrilled when the Shepherd has left lesson plans for the day (psst! Mr. D, those photocopies of pages from p. 112 did not fool the Sheep who know that they are currently working in Chapter 10 between pages 347 and 360. Nope, didn't fool them at all, they refused to ruminate on the material.) The thrill is even greater when the plans ask me to actually teach something because at heart and by training I am a Shepherd. I got applause from one Shepherd because I followed the plans and textbook and covered perimeters in such a way that the Sheep did not need to be re-educated by the Shepherd when he returned. Woohoo! I do understand that many Sheep Dogs are not trained teachers, requirements for the position include a clean background check and a high school diploma or equivalent, and that most Sheep Dogs do not wish to teach.

Today I was Sheep Dog to two flocks of piano students. It was fine. They were well behaved and only one or two tried to bolt the field. Things were a little unsettled since school opened two hours late because of lingering snow issues. The first two periods were each only 20 minutes long and the last two periods were the normal length (2.5 hours and 1.25 hours). Most of the day I sat and knit on a sock while a room of sheep plunked away on keyboards, the quiet made possible by many headsets.

Sometimes being a Sheep Dog is easy and sometimes it is difficult. I have not had a fire extinguisher dropped on me or sexually assaulted or beaten up but I am always aware that I am only one angry or unbalanced sheep away from trouble. My instructions are to confiscate ipods or cell phones that are not put away during class. In general the Sheep comply but when they don't I step back and call security and fill out a PS74.

I was horrified by the official notice regarding breaking up fights that all Shepherds and Sheep Dogs received from the County. The County pointed out that no Shepherd is required to stop a fight and that all adults should consider the possibility of damage to themselves when intervening. Then the County made a point of mentioning that if a Shepherd intervenes to stop a fight and injures or appears to injure a Sheep then the Shepherd will be held accountable and charges may be filed. Furthermore (!) if a Shepherd does not step in to break up the fight and a Sheep is injured then the County points out that the family of the injured Sheep may hold the Shepherd accountable for any damages and may file a lawsuit against the Shepherd which the union may or may not be able to help with. Aiaiaiaiaiaiaiii! How is that for mixed messages?

I have been knitting. Some days I have lots of Sheep Dog time for knitting; it depends on the field and the sheep. Knitting pictures of various scarves, hats )maybe) and the elusive Birch will be posted as soon as the camera battery is recharged.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm working as a substitute teacher in a local high school and most days I feel like a sheep dog. My job is to corral the students into the classroom, keep them there or keep track of them between bells, and move them on out at the end of the class. Woof!

Often their questions and statements repeat over and over until I hear them as bleating sheep (ok, not really as sheep but I become amused). For instance:

Sheep1: Can I listen to my ipod during class?
Sheep Dog: No.

Sheep2: Can I listen to my ipod while I work?
Sheep Dog: No.

Sheep3: Can I listen to music on my ipod?
Sheep Dog: No.
Sheep3: I'll play it quietly.
Sheep Dog: No.

Sheep4: Can I listen to my ipod during class?
Sheep2: Dude, she already answered that.
Sheep4: So? I can still ask. Can I?
Sheep Dog: No.

Sheep5: Our teacher lets us listen to music during class.
Sheep Dog: (Notes large sign on the wall listing the class rules with #1 - No ipods or cell phones used during class!) You may not listen to music. Please start on your work.
Sheep5: Man, you are MEAN. You are as bad as a real teacher.


Instance #2:

Sheep1: Can I have a pass to the bathroom?
Sheep Dog: Ok, I'll need to see your ID and you will need to sign out.
Sheep1: Ok. (heads back to desk to get ID from backpack - yes, it is supposed to be worn in the open at all times)

Sheep2: Hey, sheep1, where are you going?
Sheep1: To the vending machines.
Sheep2: Can you get me a candy bar?
Sheep1: No, I'm not coming back.

Sheep Dog: I'm not giving passes to the vending machines or for people who are not returning.
Sheep1: Oh no! I busted myself.