Saturday, February 16, 2008

Living in the Moment

I took this class, back at Silver Lake College, called "conflict resolution." I think it was actually required for my business degree. I know for sure, thought, that the class drove me nuts. The textbook was written by John Denver's bodyguard (I kid you not) and stressed things like positive attitude and letting agression flow past you. (If you knew me, you'd be rolling on the floor by now.) The coursework came right out of the Hallmark aisle at Walgreens: "Try to see the other person's point of view." "Don't sweat the small stuff." Et cetera, ad nauseum. And I paid through the nose for those credits!

One class, we went over this supposedly ancient saumari parable from the book. I may have some of the details wrong, but here goes:

A warrior lost his footing in the heat of combat, and stumbled
over the edge of a cliff. As he fell, he managed to catch hold
of a small bush growing out of the
side of the steep cliff face. Above him, a fierce opponent
waited for a chance to strike. Below him, an angry lion paced,
waiting for him to fall. And the small bush
from which he dangled was being slowly uprooted by his weight.

As he pondered this, he noticed a bright berry
growing from the tip of the branch to which he clung.
He plucked the berry, ate it, and smiled.

The point, of course, is the savor small bits of goodness in life even when faced with enormous pressure and trouble. Riiiiiight. If it was me, I'd be throwing that stupid berry at the lion, trying to scrabble sideways on the cliff, anything to try and find a better way. Screw the berry.

Anyway, I'm feeling a little pressure today. I came into work to get some stuff done, and got side-tracked by other people who weren't supposed to be there but also came in to get some stuff done - and discovered they needed my help to do it. And of course, I also have my moonlighting gig at home, for which I should be spending regular evening hours telecommuting for the good for the real estate world at large. (You'll notice my use of the word "should," here.) Plus, add in all the normal stuff we all face, especially in winter in Wisconsin.

And so, I bring you this little bit of peace and tranquil beauty from my morning ride:

Are we feeling calmer yet?

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm just sayin', is all

Good morning. For those of you who stopped by to see the finished Red Hat cloth, here it is:

It turned out to be about 15" x 7.5" when done on size 5 needles in my somewhat loose gauge. I used cotton yarn from my stash whose label was missing, but it was probably Peaches 'n Creme (since that's my default for this kind of thing). The pattern was designed by Mary Thistle, and I don't have permission to share it with you directly - but she's a very generous lady with her patterns, and can be reached through the Monthly Dishcloths Yahoo Group. Oh, and the "red hat" duckie came from the clearance bin at Steins Garden & Gift last fall, but I've seen them available on the 'net now and again.

Okay, thanks for stopping by. I'm going to vent now on a completely unrelated topic, so - bye!

Are they gone?

So, I spent a lot more time in my adolescence and young adulthood listening to Janis Ian lyrics ( than actually dating in the kind of way young girls are taught to dream of. No, literally. Google a Rex Smith movie called "Sooner or Later" if you want to see how it DIDN'T go. Now, of course, I get the last laugh because I'm living happily ever after with a wonderful man who has all my best interests at heart, married me all over again last September, and drove all the way to Toledo two weeks ago because someone on Samba had a euro-rag roof component for sale that he could add to the '68 VW Beetle he's restoring for me. (See the picture below, if you've never seen one. Rare, and really cool.)

But having memorized said Janis Ian lyrics, and having spent way too many teenaged nights developing romantic fantasies of flowers and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and gallant gestures that do not necessarily involve Volkswagens, I have certain expectations for Valentine's Day ("V Day"). I went through them in detail with Rick about 18 years ago, when he came home one V Day empty-handed at about 6:00 p.m. and told me he couldn't get me anything because by the time he'd left work the drugstore was out of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. My theory then, as now, that (1) there was some advance notice, given that V Day had been observed since before he was born, and didn't get moved around a lot on the stupid calendar, and (2) it wasn't about the chocolate, per se, so much as the guesture behind it. (He aparently took me to heart that day - I left for night school in a snit, and he sat down with some cardboard and old flannel and made me a heart-shaped box, complete with my name machine-embroidered on the lid. Then he ran to the gas station for whatever chocolate they had, and individually wrapped it in tin foil before filling the heart box with it. That was a beautiful guesture, and I still have that box.)

Fast forward to yesterday. One co-worker gets gorgeous flowers delivered, another is going out to a romantic dinner - another is even getting married. Me? I get a call at about 4:30 that he's headed south to look at car parts with a buddy (and NOT VW parts). I hint heavily that a nice dinner would be well-received.

He shows up at about 8:15 (empty-handed), and looks at me with this "where's dinner" expression. I sigh, throw some spaghetti together, and eat a bowl of cereal in front of the TV because I had pasta for lunch and didn't want to go there again so soon. I'm feeling more and more disgusted, and about 9:00 he comes back in from the garage and hands me a card - very nice, in a generic sort of way - and my V Day gift: a hair straightener. Uh huh.

I'm feeling distinctly neglected at this point, and finally resort to a little guidance: "Honey, is there some chocolate . . . . ?" He tells me he hasn't had a chance to get any, but he's going back out to shop in a little while. (Did I mention this was in the middle of a snowstorm?)

At 9:30, I'm completely disgusted and go to bed. In my ugly lime-green full-length flannel p.j.'s.

At 10:00, he shows up with a box of chocolates, wakes me up to give it to me, and looks at me expectantly like I'm going to sit up in bed and eat chocolate for him. (Okay, it's happened before. But still.) Instead, I explain to him that he's missed V Day and we can try again next year. Conversation ensues.

We're okay today, and it's worked out, and I had a white chocolate truffle before work. But apparently I need to either decide not to feel so strongly about this whole thing - or learn how to nudge a lot harder, and a bit further in advance.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The color for the day . . .

Twenty-two years ago today, during the second week of basic training, TSgt Burrows lined us all up and marched us across Lackland for our innoculations. She was easily the most competent of the training instructors - not as nice as Sgt Shaw, not as much of an absolute butt as TSgt Ludwig (I think I'd still love to take a swing at him, given the opportunity) - but smart and competent and exuding an air of complete mastery over both her environment and our training. "FALL IN, Ladies!" she bellowed, all of about 5' 2" of her. "Since the color of the day is red, you're getting your shots!" And away we went.

I'm told that in the really old days, they just used the same needle over and over as the line of recruits went by. When I went through, it was an air gun, and they had an airman in line showing you how to hold your arm out and clench to minimize the sting. But some of us still got some serious bruising. (I also ended up with a Hep B antibody - probably from an inoculation that wasn't quite ready yet for civilian use, but was good enough for us grunts.)

Anyway, since the color of the day is red, I thought I'd show you my progress thus far on Mary Thistle's "Lady Face With Hat" pattern. Here we are up to Row 29:

I think I'm seeing shoulders, neck, a chin and lips, and the beginnings of a large-brimmed hat. The pattern only has 54 rows, so I'm more than half way. Maybe I'll be able to show you the entire thing by the weekend.

In other news, the kids were presented with their chocolate this morning, and grunted some kind of acknowledgement that is probably quite acceptable in teenaged circles. Rick peeked at the card and tray of brownies I had ready for him, thought twice about the iced tea maker that I'd given to him early, and said he'd rather exchange gifts tonight - which means he's going shopping after work today. No worries, since it gave me the chance to remind him one more time that I like white chocolate, not dark.

Oh, and having attended the first simple lenten meal at church last night, I find myself having volunteered to do the second one next Wednesday. Anyone have a simple, somewhat health-conscious recipe for casserole which could be made with or without meat and which doesn't involve "cream of" soup?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just a few random pictures

First, here's the bag I've made for the silent auction at the Women's Wild Winter Weekend retreat up at Moon Beach in March. The theme this year is "Attitude" and I got the camp director to send me this year's logo ahead of time. (That's it - the figure on the bag.) At Tasha's request, the figure is actually a pin instead of colorwork applique'd to the bag, so it can be removed when the user's attitude is a little more subtle.

Next, here's the best of the pictures from Tasha's Snow Ball last week. She was actually in a foul mood, due to being called into work at the last minute and having to work up until just before the dance. This meant her friend did her hair in the afternoon, then she went to work and had to put her visor on over her hair, and then she had to change into her dress in the bathroom at work. I saw the dress before she bought it and thought it was fine, if a little daring. But when my baby girl walked out of the restaurant bathroom dressed like this (in below zero weather!), all I could think of was, "Jeez, that's an awful lot of chest for Dairy Queen!"

And finally, the latest shot of the cutest nephew in the world. I cannot wait to meet this little guy in Tucson in 6 weeks!

In other news, I finished weaving in the ends for the last pieces of Dad's place mat set as well as the River Rapids cloth, so I'm going to throw it all into the mail tonight. Next up: Mary Thistle's "Red Hat" cloth pattern. And maybe a cotton sweater for the little guy, above, in F. Pea's pattern. And I need to finish Julie's feather and fan baby blanket before the baby arrives in April. And I need to work on the ecclesiastical stole for RaeAnn. And of course the 50th anniversary prayer shawl. And it might be nice to finish the psychidelic mohair mobius wrap and a cotton butterfly shawl for myself before I do all that traveling in March.

Compulsive knitter? Me?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's cute, but . . . *

I wanted to experiment with the new Sugar 'n Creme longer sections varigated yarn, so I tried out the River Rapids Square from Kayleen Knits ( Here's what I got:

Very pretty, even before blocking - and to be perfectly fair, the original pattern was meant to be done out of a much thicker yarn and was designed as an afghan square. But . . . my goodness it's small. Not sure what exactly I'm going to do with it, since by my standards it's too small for a dishcloth.


* What did the elephant say to the naked man?
"Well, it's cute, but can you really breath out of that thing?"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blue Day, redux

I'm becoming aware that my sugar binging, somewhat compulsive knitting, and desperate apathy towards some kinds of chores maybe be signs of winter depression.

I hate this time of year.