Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Things That Weren’t

There were a lot of things I was going to share with you last week – when I got stuck waiting for a train to pass through town and got fascinated by the “urban art” – how beautiful some of it was and wondering how the graffiti-ists ever found all the time to do it; how every household, especially mine, needs an alpha mom more often than they think; how Spawn (hereafter to be called “Spot” – if I remember) has gone ahead with his legal name change; a sweater I’m knitting; cool stuff from my women’s group and my knitting group, but…

There’d come a call from the nursing home and then from the hospital, and everything extra had to stop. “Your Dad fell and seems fine,” “Your Dad fell and has a cut on his forehead, so we’re sending him to the hospital,” “Your Dad’s temperature is elevated and his breathing is congested and he’s groggy, so we’re sending him to the hospital.” And, “his leg is swollen, hot, and red, so we’re sending him for a Doppler.” On and on. He’s still alive, and doesn’t seem as bad as so many calls would indicate, but there are small signs.

He’s stopped being aware of where he is geographically – doesn’t realize we’re in the same city and state and keeps thanking me for making the long trip to see him. He doesn’t like his nursing home because they have too many rules and he can’t go bike-riding or out for a walk (which he hasn’t done for over 15 years anyway, since he can’t even walk); he forgets that my sister hasn’t visited for some time and talks about the last time they spoke as if it were yesterday. Time and distance and reality have collided and combined into an alternate reality for him, which is more obvious and sadly disturbing than ever. He has slipped another mile down the tunnel towards the end.

I am trying to figure out if now is the time to call my sister and tell her to come back for the last good bye before he passes. His health, fragile though it is, is comparatively stable, but his mind is leaving. I’d hate to wait until he was no longer able to recognize her and enjoy her company.

I was able, this weekend, to spend a few hours with Bunny at the mall, buying far too many good-smelling things at Bath and Body Works, and sharing a fruit smoothie with her before we assaulted Linens N Things for a turkey lifter and some bathroom refurbishments. Unfortunately, I seem to have subsequently come down with stomach flu and am taking the hint from God and Nature to lie down and rest.

So, I’m just going to have to admit to and take a hiatus for a while from blogging. If I get a chance, I’ll post the little things, and I’ll certainly keep you posted on the big things.

Wish me well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sharing Middle Age

My neighbor lady friend and I went out the other day. She’s a few years older than I am, but my family goes through menopause early, so we’re about even on the hot-flash-o-meter. We were enjoying our cranberry scones and raspberry flavored coffee (it’s the ONLY added flavor I can stand in coffee), and I said, “I hate being middle aged.”

“Why?” she asked. “You get to be cranky, curse in public, and rearrange the furniture on a daily basis and blame it all on menopause!”

“Hair. In. The. Wrong. Places.” I responded with a corresponding grimace.

She nodded wisely. “Oh, I know what you mean. I had one on my chin that was not there when I went to bed, and when I woke up it had grown enough to have a CURL in it!”

“I hate those,” I sympathized.

“Oh, and when I pulled that bad boy out, I swear the root was 18 inches long! I felt the back of my HEAD sink in a fraction of an inch when it finally came out!” she said. “Where was yours?”

“I woke up yesterday morning and went to brush my teeth,” I said, “and when I looked in the mirror, it looked like Tufty the Nose Mouse had nested in my nostrils. I was so shocked I screamed, and then I couldn’t bring myself to explain why to my husband.”

“Has he started sprouting that gnome like ear hair men get?” she asked. “My husband has, and on those days when I decide I hate him, I have a really mean urge to put hair gel on it while he’s snoring and freak him out. Of course, he’d probably never notice.”

“Not so much, mostly it’s either end of the alimentary system that’s getting him,” I said.

She rolled her eyeballs and said, “In English, Wordsworth.”

“Teeth and hemorrhoids,” I responded.

“HEY!” yelled the guy in the booth behind us, who had been hidden by the back of the seat. “Enough already! I’m only 32, and I really, really don’t want a reason to drive off a cliff before I have kids!”

My friend and I looked sagely at each other, and she told him, “Oh, it’s the kids that will put you on THAT edge. Grandkids are the reason to stick around.”

I’m pretty sure he said a nasty word before turning back to his blueberry muffin.

Oddball Word of the Day

amaranth (AM-uh-ranth) n. an imaginary flower that never fades or withers

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, October 29, 2007

WeeMed Out

Oooh, that sounds a little nasty. Anyway, it was lots of fun this year – some of the same programs and some new ones, basically the same food menu with more bounteous and more chocolaty sweets this time around (last year I was late and wound up confronted by what looked like an angry blanc mange as the sole remaining treat). It was nice having my daughter with me because I got to see some things through fresh eyes. Some of her observations:

1. No one bothers you if you’re reading, even if you’re doing it during dinner at a full table. They respect your love of reading.

2. Very few shirts for sports teams – mostly smart aleck remarks or puns or clever quips. She even spotted an IMSA t-shirt. (My favorite: I don’t think much, so I might not be.)

3. Puns and smarty-pants remarks on the posters – “Free Soda: Exact Change Required” or a sign under the quiche, “Vegetarian, not Vegan…Duh!”

4. We missed some programs because we were too busy talking with interesting people.

5. Everyone is nice, and (ahem) Mom is popular (grin).

6. The souvenir shirts are cool. So are squirrels.

Some things I noticed:

1. Many people expressed a sense of relief or joy at being with other Mensans – two memorable remarks: “I haven’t spoken that deeply on a topic in MONTHS” and “It’s so nice to be somewhere where I don’t have to explain what a Klein bottle is.”

2. Even if I don’t care about a topic, listening to the selected programs is always interesting. Being me, a total goober, I walked into a conference room to attend a meet and greet for online Mensans. Turns out, the last program was still going on – on foreskin restoration. It took me a couple of minutes to figure that out, since there were no explicit pictures or language for those couple of minutes (although the large pink florescent penis and partial balls on the table should have clued me in, but I don’t like to assume…), and by then, I was moderately interested, even though I can’t imagine a topic I’d be less likely to seek out. It was very scientific and clinical, the speaker read testimonial letters, and I could tell he felt very sincere and earnest about his topic. Twenty minutes later he finished up, redirected a lot of people looking for a speaker on ghosts, and then the online thing started.

3. The hugs were even better this year.

4. It’s fine, even normal, to skip all the programs and just hang out and snork up beer and/or broccoli and chat with other Ms.

5. I’m not the only person who gets a little ferocious when the caffeinated coffee runs low.

6. Even the inexplicable costumes were funny.

7. No one b*tch slapped me for knitting all over the place. I even knit during the Saturday evening show and tried Very Hard not to clank like a member of a chain gang.

8. Hi, Bill! It was nice to finally meet you in real life!

OK, so I have to go catch up on laundry and get dinner started. I’m still smiling, though, which is nice.

Oddball Word of the Day

intelligensia (in-TELL-ih-JENT-see-uh): n. pl. intellectuals, considered as an educated, influential class, esp. as an elite.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Also, dang tasty coffee.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I’m off to WeeM today – that’s the Chicago Area Mensa Regional Gathering. I’ll be taking my daughter, since I use WeeM as a senior year treat. We’re both looking forward to it – if nothing else, one of my favorite things about staying in a hotel is the unlimited supply of very hot water – I can have a hot bath that lasts a full day (with periodic reheating) if I want! Oh, the luxury. Plus, someone else worries about the cooking.

Anyway, I’ve been a naughty blogger. Here are some of the things that have been going on since I last posted:

My dad went into the hospital twice – the first time was when his blood pressure dropped really low and he was even more confused and tired than usual, plus the congestion in his chest got worse. Once he was checked in and poked and prodded, he and his blood pressure perked back up, but they still kept him for three days. Then, a day after he got back to the nursing home, he tried to get out of his wheelchair and fell and broke open the skin on his forehead, so he had to go get scanned, checked out, and sewn up.

Then, my dear knitting friend had a partial knee replacement, the “Oxford Knee” (Name brand surgery!). I had to go up to Fringe to pick up some special order yarn, and I decided I’d pick up several skeins in autumn colors for her, too. Then, while in traffic on the way there, I had a brainstorm – a yarn bouquet. The yarn store owners looked at me like they were wondering where I was hiding my third eye, so, as I sat in traffic on the way home, I decided to try my local florist. I know the owner there, and she’s wonderfully creative.

I stopped in, showed her the yarn, and asked if she could combine it, safely, with some autumn toned flowers in a basket for a unique bouquet. She looked thrilled at the chance to do something new, and said sure. I left it in her hands, and toddled home. I got a call from my knitting friend (OK, it’s Irene. I’ve outed your first name. Be afraid!) who was overwhelmed at the lovely bouquet. I couldn’t resist, so I went over and took a picture of it:

Faboo, eh? (I have it on good authority that the yarn was severely fondled before I took the picture, so It's not necessarily in its original state.)

Then, let’s see, it was let the dog out every two hours so she didn’t pizzle in my house, I had another 504 meeting for my youngest, and he had a dentist’s appointment and a med. Management appointment; I had four bouts of volunteer tutoring, two rounds of extended length private tutoring in German (excellent adult learner, though, which is cool), and one afternoon Spawn came home to announce that he was going to legally change his first name.

I could have gotten all worked up about it, but I decided that it was probably better than getting a strange piercing or obscene tattoo, so I smiled and asked what his new name would be. He wouldn’t tell me. So, I’ve been calling him “Spot” or “Fluffy” or “Lars” in the hopes of irking him into telling me. So far, no luck. My husband has not reacted calmly, even though Spawn fully intends on keeping the family name. Being a whimsical teenaged boy, Spawn didn’t do his homework and found out it would take six weeks to legally change his name, would involve a lawyer, a fee, and publication in the newspaper. We haven’t heard much about it since then.

And then there’s knit stuff:

About 10 years ago, I made my daughter a “hot damn” afghan from a pattern on the Knitlist. It involved multiple strands of thin yarn, size 35 needles, and muscles like Conan in order to tame the yarn and needles and wrassle them into compliance. I swore, silently, that I would never make another one, and, of course, it’s Bunny’s cherished blankie. Well, between 10 years of daily use and one new dogette, the afghan developed a huge, scary, tangled hole in the middle, and then somewhere midway between middle and end, in each direction, the yarn failed and there were two splits. Bunny wanted the afghan fixed. She moped; she stuck out her lip, she said encouraging words.

I bit my tongue, yet still managed to offer to make her a brand new one. She cried and said she just wanted the old one fixed. I pointed out there was no way I could ever hope to match the yarns again, showed her the only possible yarn I have which I could use to fix it, in the hopes of getting her to agree to a new afghan instead. She perked up and said they’d be fine; that she didn’t mind if her blankie had battle scars. So, I gave in.

And I began darning, and darning, and darning. The two splits weren’t a problem, but that big danged hole in the middle took me, well, several days to build up the courage to deal with it, then four days to – a) untangle the mess and find out what was split, missing, etc., b) knit back what had unraveled, as best as possible, and c) two days to darn the 12 inch by 6 inch remaining hole. The craftsmanship is fine, but, boy, oh, boy does the darn stick out like a thick, sore thumb. Bunny, however, is delighted. I may finally be over the throbbing headache that accompanied it.

Then the Doodle came to me after dinner one night, as I was meditating over a new sock, and announced (I think I have a family of budding Walter Kronkites – they announce stuff rather than just casually mentioning it) that he needed a new sweater. I asked him about the two sweaters I made him two years ago, which were very handsome -- made with doubled sock yarn for warmth and durability, and in masculine variegated blues, which he had been wearing quite happily up until his announcement. He said they didn’t fit any more, and I made him try one on.

He was right. He looked like Pappy Yoakum, with his belly showing and most of his lower arms sticking out. The width was still fine, though. I said, “Holy Crap! When did you grow so much?” He laughed and said he didn’t know and could he please take off the sweater since it made his armpits feel funny. Aaargh. So, he got measured up for a new sweater. The durned kid has pretty much grown three inches beyond the limits of the previous sweater in all vertical zones. We picked out a yarn, and I swatched and cast on. And, no, he doesn’t want any fancy stitches or stripes or patterns, he just wants a plain John Doe sweater made by Mom. That’s OK, everyone needs a little mindless TV knitting.

Then there’s Being On Hold, which should be a paid job. Or, I should at least get extremely valuable discount coupons because I think I’ve spent 24 solid hours either talking to people in India or touch-toning my way through corporate phone labyrinths over the last two weeks in order to: update two Tracfones, get a monstrously wrong electric bill straightened out, make a consumer complaint on a product, and making an inquiry on one of my Dad’s bills. I dozed off at the dining room table twice while waiting on hold, lulled to sleep by the sound of an electronic female telling me how important my call was.

Last night, I woke up from my unintentional nap on the couch, at 8:30, to the startling realization that the only clean pants I had were the ones I was wearing, so I headed down to the laundry room, where there was another startling discovery. My family decided to show me how much they’ll miss me by saving up all their laundry until the night before my departure. It’s piled on a waist high counter to a height over my head, and stretching about 7 feet wide. There were throw rugs, robes, uncountable towels, and, of course, all of my pants in there. I quirked an eyebrow at the mountain of pong, fished out a couple pairs of my and Bunny’s pants, and threw them in the wash. I did the same thing with underwear and shirts this morning. The rest of it can wait for me to get back, or for the weight of the laundry to turn the socks into diamonds; I don’t care. They all know where to find the soap and turn the dials.

So, I’m off to WeeM. I may never leave the room because I’ll be enjoying the hot water, the lack of phone duty, and the laundry being someone else’s business. Hope to see some of you there, and, if not, have a hot bath and a great weekend on my behalf!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Five Completely Dumb Things I’ve Done...

…in no particular order

1. When I was a kid, despite knowing I should stay away from electrical outlets, I still tried to plug my plastic iron’s plastic cord in, just in case (also, don’t put me near signs that say “Wet Paint”). When I got up off the floor, with my hair sticking straight up and a snootful of electrically fried plastic smell, I decided that maybe staying away from electrical outlets would be a good general principle after all.

2. I took a driving test in a car that was really amazingly awful. The horn didn’t work, so I had a rubber ducky that I used as a horn. My three-point turn, because of stiff steering bits, was more of a five point and big smile at the examiner turn. It wouldn’t go over 45 miles per hour without shimmying and making scary clunking noises. The headlights chose their own brightness, pretty whimsically, which made night driving extra spicy. I passed the test, though. Maybe the examiner just wanted to get the hell out of the scary car with the dangerously perky (it was a sham; I was embarrassed and scared shitless) driver.

3. I sat in a train station in Paris and pelted pigeons with dried chunks of baguette. I was frustrated and hungry, and the damned baguette was inedibly hard. Even the Parisian pigeons snubbed it. I beaned one big b*stard pretty hard in its tiny head and got cussed at (in lovely French) by an old lady.

4. In high school, my best friend and I went to see a sci-fi movie. When we bought our tickets, the clerk looked at us funny, and pointed us to the correct theater (one of three). We were a little late, so we squinched into some seats in the back so we wouldn’t disturb people. We watched the screen for a few minutes and realized that a whole lot of people were having a lot of sloppy sex. My friend poked me and said, “I thought this was going to be a sci-fi movie”. I said, “Maybe it’s alien sex. Maybe it’ll be over soon.” We decided to tough out the alien sex until a few seats away we heard a guy, well, you know, doing the Pee Wee Herman thing. We looked at each other in embarrassment and left. We checked the marquee; it was supposed to be the sci-fi movie. We asked the clerk, and he said we’d gone in the wrong theater, but we hadn’t – the sci-fi movie was listed on the sex movie theater. So, in the spirit of adventure, my friend and I went back in and watched the porn. It was yucky, and we were the only girls in there, which was also yucky. The sci-fi movie was next, but we left halfway through because we were still stunned and kind of numb from the porn, so we headed for a coffee shop and spent a lot of time looking at each other in VERY BRIGHT LIGHT, drinking coffee and saying, “Well…Holy shit.”

5. I got very, very drunk in my late teens, and spent the night at my stepbrother’s house. His wife took in stray animals, and I woke up covered in cats. I thought I was hallucinating, or having the dt’s or something. I got up to go wee and had to pry cats off my head, my neck and my arms. When I sat down on the throne, thinking I was in a fur-free zone, the window clicked. I looked up, and there was a cat, sitting in the window, watching me wee. I had to scrape cats off my pillow to get back in bed, and the sound of all that purring and scratching totally freaked out my still-drunk self. I have not gotten snockered since, and I don’t have any cats. I wonder why?

Here’s to a wiser weekend!


Rabelaisian (Ra-beh-LAY-zee-ehn) adj. broadly or coarsely humorous, satirical, etc.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Moment of Calm

Bluebird by Robin Trower/James Dewar

I remember when this song came out in 1977; I heard it on the radio one cold morning. It was so beautiful that I lunged up out of bed, then lay back down, listening in awe. It calms me every time I hear it, while overwhelming me with the amazing guitar skills. If you wait past the first few awkward seconds, it'll be worth your time -- the recording is from 1977, so there's a little noise.

Relax, and let it happen. You could even knit while listening!

Oddball Word of the Day

plangent (PLAN-jehnt) adj. having a loud, vibrating, lamenting sounds, with a wave-like beat or surge

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)


We were discussing friends and friendship in group yesterday. Some folks have trouble trusting that they are likeable enough to have real friendships, others have trust issues, others are so isolated and unfamiliar with social settings that they are horribly self-conscious and feel awkward and too weird to make friends. I feel lucky.

I was not a person who inspired friendships until I hit my midteens and moved in with my Dad and Stepmom. Prior to that, I had your typical cynical, acidic, alienating and alienated attitude that most kids have who are abused. “Don’t get close to me, you’ll just cause me pain” is how that shakes out lots of times. Dad and Ellen made the difference.

They liked me, even when I was obnoxious and peculiar, they found my sense of humor hilarious, they pointed out my good features physically and mentally, and they accepted me. That made such a huge difference. After having been treated with hatred, violence, distain, and dismissal for so many years, having someone else not only see me, but also see the good in me was a revelation.

Looking at it from here, my spot years later in life, I think it works that way for most people, regardless of their upbringing. I think that when others accept us and like us, we are more able to accept and like ourselves. I think we begin to take ourselves and our right to friendship and decent treatment more seriously and learn to discern the difference between someone who enjoys our company and someone who is working a hidden agenda.

I think back over the friends I’ve had over the years. Some people, like me, just needed companionship for the short term, or their lives took different paths, but during the time we were friends, we laughed, we threw popcorn at each other, we were able to let down our back hair and share emotions, worries, gossip, adventures, and deepest secrets.

Others started off like friends, but, and I don’t think I’m the only one who’s faced this, at some point, their eyes shuttered, they drew back and didn’t share. There were places they were not willing to go, be it in shared silliness or seriousness, or there were things they were afraid of – rejection, judgment, criticism, I don’t know. I do know I’ve sometimes been on the other side of the shuttered eyes and mind, too.

Sometimes we just needed a break from one another – things had been intense or taken too much time, and we were enjoying relating so much that we let important things fall by the wayside, so we had to step back from the time-eating friendship for a spell. If we granted each other that space without resentment, then things went well. If that was too threatening for one person or the other, sometimes the friendship altered or died.

I don’t enter into friendships expecting one person to solve or resolve all my needs – that would be overwhelming and imprudent. I share different aspects of myself with different friends, as they do with me, and that’s enough. There’s usually plenty of crossover, too, in areas and issues. It’s manageable, it’s safe, it’s sane, and it’s normal. I’m not looking for a “bff”; I’m happy with a “gffalail” (good friend for as long as it lasts); I don’t require perpetuity of my friends; I think that would be a little frightening because so many things lie between here and forever.

I suppose the best thing I have going for me in my approach to friendships is that I truly believe I am likeable, but I don’t expect everyone to like me, and I’m not devastated by rejection. Plenty of fish in the sea, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. I don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea.

So, as I often do, I bring the things talked about, or alluded to, in group home and roll them around in my mind, chewing on them, pulling them apart, examining bits in greater detail and so on. I was thinking about friendship skills and my kids and wondering how I’ve done, if I could have done better, if circumstances conspire against them, etc. I suppose only time will tell.

They are selective in their friends, which I think is a pretty good thing. I figure the adage, or variation thereof, that a man who is everyone’s friend is known by none of them is true – it smells of people-pleasing and burying the bits of oneself that can create a deeper friendship. They each are working on learning about friends and friendships; Bunny has had friendships that slowly evaporated over time and distance, and we’ve talked about how that just happens and how to keep in touch if they both want to. Doodle has learned to let friendships build over time and let trust enter in manageable increments. Spawn is having introspective moments over what a friend really is and what’s appropriate to expect from friends (and what they can expect from him) as he and his cohort age and move into different phases of their lives.

If they ask me questions, I answer them with personal experiences, and I really do try to avoid holding forth too much. Sometimes I’m not completely successful at that, but their questions are always welcome, and I hope I let them know they’re not alone, they’re likeable and loved and accepted, and that finding people who like them and appreciate them is often a matter of luck and circumstance, as well as liking themselves well enough to be honest and real in encountering others. I’ll never really know by what yardstick they are measuring themselves, though, I suppose.

But, they are always welcome and loved here, and I guess that’s pretty much all a parent can do.

Oddball Word of the Day

caryatid (KARE-ee-AT-id) n. (in architecture) a draped female figure serving as a supporting column

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

College Season and Small Dogs

Well, the colleges are bombarding Bunny with pamphlets, offers of scholarships, enticing letters, multi-colored flyers, and email. Lately, our mail has been 2/3 college mail and 1/3 bills and dross. I’m cynical, and I should probably do a better job of hiding it. I’m pretty sure most adults, especially most adults who were smart high school students, got the same kind of mail – offers of scholarships, but when the actual offers show up, they’re not usually full scholarships – those are reserved for the students who can pay back the college in entertainment value – namely, conference sports. Yep, I’m cynical.

And, the smallest dog has been working my patience pretty hard. We had “Adventures in Wee” day on Saturday. Gracie wee-weed in every room in the house, including leaping into the upstairs bathtub, wee-ing in the tub, then leaping out, with the shower curtain still in place, hiding her crime. I am just now discovering some of the more cleverly hidden damp spots. We’ve already shampooed and Dog-gone-d the downstairs carpet once; I have to take the Bad Shaky Can with me if I let her accompany me when I go to do laundry. Funny how she doesn’t wee in her crate. Aaargh.

Fortunately, her big brother is fine. It cost us one arm and three fingers to get his shots updated and him fully checked out and protected against all possible infestations and diseases, but the vet says he’s in fighting trim and that all that playing with a kid sister is good for him. I invited him over to massage the Hoove after a hard day of sister-wrestling, but he laughed at me and gave my dog a cookie. Humph.

It’s also time to vacuum again – between chewed up pencils, chewed up chopsticks, chewed up straws, chewed up paper (Oh, she ate the one kiddy book I was actually pretty sentimental about), chewed up toys, and shed hair, it looks like Kim and Aggie would have words for me. Sigh. Time to go lie down on the couch, pull the blanket up over my head and pretend I’m not there! (Think that will work?)

Oddball Word of the Day

younker (YUNG-ker) n. a youngster

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In case...

You're blue...

Meme Scheme

OK FugueStateKnits has tagged me, and I’ve come out of my dark, yarn-infested lair and decided to play nice with others, having set my snips aside for the nonce. It’s a random things meme, and here are the rules: Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they've been tagged.

(Oh, great, now I have to come up with eight people who also have sites, and who may choose not to wreak cyber-havoc upon me for tagging them. Feel the dread.)

1. I would love to have a clutter-free, pristine house, but that would last as long as it would take me to open up a newspaper. Then there’d be inserts on one end table, which I might not get to chucking out right away, bits would probably fall out, which I wouldn’t vacuum up for a while, and then I’d wind up with the crossword puzzle and Sudoku puzzle section folded open and left on the coffee table until I got a chance to do them. My cluttered house isn’t just the fault of my family and pets; it’s my fault, too.

2. I’m actually looking forward to my children being all grown up and living elsewhere. It’s not that I can’t live with them; I love them, and they are dear and wonderful people. It’s that I’m wearing out on dealing with the teenaged years. I’ve already really, seriously done the midnight feedings and diaper years, and I have a puppy, so I’m dealing with a doggy version of the “toddler” years all over again. I’m looking forward to relating to my kids as fellow adults to whom I am related, with a lot less “Mom” stuff.

3. I am a really good friend except for one thing – I don’t do “Hi, how are you?” phone calls or emails. I can’t stump up any motivation for calling someone up to talk about nothing in particular. I enjoy it when my friends call me up for those kinds of calls, but I never seem to do it myself, and even when I think I should, I wind up agonizing over coming up with an actual reason to call. Some people find that peculiar.

4. I have an inappropriate sense of humor almost all the time. I will burst out laughing in the emergency room, especially if it’s something going on with me. It’s probably a defense mechanism – finding something absurd in almost everything, but I don’t think many people find it amusing. I’ve been known to snicker during my women’s group because something said makes a wild, loony image in my head, or I notice bizarre things when other people are having problems, and I have to really fight down my urge to point out whatever inappropriate and probably insultingly irrelevant thing it is. I couldn't stop laughing during my Dad's retirement party and had to go to the little girls' room before I embarrassed him. That was about 25 years ago, and I haven't gotten much better.

5. I went to a Catholic high school for my last two years of public education. I am not Catholic, and it was kind of an eye-opener into the dogma of that religion. I still have my plaid, pleated polyester skirt in a memory box somewhere.

6. I am a survivor of severe childhood abuse. It is not all that I am, nor it is the most important thing about me, but it is something that will always be with me. Sometimes, I have very blue times, which, really, only other survivors can understand. June is a rough month for me. An acquaintance has tough Julys. I have alluded to the abuse in my childhood in previous posts, but here’s why June is rough for me.

Shortly after my 12th birthday at the beginning of June 1972, my mother and I were visiting her family in the south. She had a rage storm, hit me over the head with a heavy object, and I wound up in a coma. For once, she did it in front of a witness, my uncle. He sent her back to our home, and he and my other relatives took care of me. According to them, I was in a coma for 6 days. They did not seek medical treatment for me because of a number of factors, ignorance and fear of the law being two of them. When I came out of the coma, I could not bear light, could not speak, could not walk, talk, figure out how to eat, toilet, drink fluids, read, or do any of the other ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) necessary to survive.

They found a C.N.A. to watch over me, and my aunts and uncles worked, very lovingly, to help me recover. By the end of the summer, I could go outside with dark glasses and a loose, billed hat on; I could walk, but not well, toilet, eat easy-to-chew foods, and drink from a straw. I could not remember mathematics or read for more than a minute or two at a time. I went back to school and struggled to get back up to speed. It was grueling and frightening, since I don’t know what my mother told the officials to explain my problems.

I caught up with my studies within a year, but it took me almost two years to recover all my abilities, and, like other people with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) I have some problems that have lasted until today and will last the rest of my life. They are not significant, and I don’t even notice them anymore unless I think really hard about them. Surviving attempted murder was a life-altering event. So were finally having a witness and champions.

And, to pre-empt the question, no, that's not all there was. It just explains blue Junes.

7. I do know how to ask for help with various things, but I don’t do it very often. I envy people who are able to, without even thinking about it, ask for assistance with big and little, everyday and out-of –the-ordinary things. I think that gene fell off my DNA somewhere along the way.

8. I read romance novels, mostly Regency ones. And I like them.

Alrighty! I’m tagging Crazy Aunt Purl (who will probably think I’m an annoying stalker), Franklin at the Panopticon (who is still recovering from an exciting infusion of knitting in color and who, I am sure, will be offended that I have tagged him), Joan (of the famous Knitlist socks) . Christie, Wendi, Lamb and Frog , a survivor blog – the Memory Artist, and some unlucky blogger I just happened across.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oddball Word of the Day

shandy (SHAN-dee) n. a drink of mixed beer and lemonade (sounds a little yucky)

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Randomizer

(Strange side note: When I write that word, which I’ve used more than once, I invariably think of a sci-fi movie that took place in a prison in the year 2XXX, and all the prisoners had an “abdominizer” implanted in their stomachs. Rather than being an effortless way to a super six-pack, it was a punishment device. If they tried to escape, the abdominizer ball would sprout wicked blade wings and puree them from the inside out. Being perverse, I kind of thought that would be a great idea for blending soup or clearing clogged drainpipes… You know, unless it got beyond itself and went out of control.)


The iPod “1-2-3-4” song is here. I can only understand a few words of it, but they seem like nice words, and the voice and tune are pretty.

I think my parrot is smart, and it’s been hard work keeping him on the straight and narrow path of virtue and honesty. Not so lucky were the caretakers for this birdie.

Courage, wisdom, fortitude and spirituality. I was reading a post about faith here, where the blogger mentions moments of that hair-raising, eerie feeling that you are not alone in the moment – that something greater, kinder, and wiser is with you. I’ve had those, too.

About 8 years ago, my husband lost his job due to the machinations of a person of evil intent. We were in poor shape financially, the children were all under 12, we hadn’t been here in our little town long, and I was scared – scared that we wouldn’t make it, that my husband would become so depressed that he’d be unable to work or seek work, and that I wouldn’t be able to bring in enough income to keep the wolves at bay. I don’t cry on many shoulders, but I had cried, very briefly, on the shoulder of a female friend who’s had her share of scary moments. It helped, but not enough.

One morning while I was deep in the fear-of-the-future well, I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing a pot. It was early morning, I was the only person awake, and I was crying silently. The sun came through the window; I took a deep breath, put down my head and prayed -- I asked God to grant me the courage, wisdom, fortitude and spirituality I would need to get through the coming days. As they say in 12 step groups, in that moment, I really did give it over to God. I felt the worry slip from my shoulders, the hair on my neck stood up, and I felt a greater presence. Two days later, my husband got a call from his former employer, asking him to come back – they had uncovered the misdeeds of the other fellow, fired him, and wanted to make amends (and keep clients). I’m not saying the two were related, but I know I got through the two interim days with a lighter heart and true hope.

Anyway, when it comes to the topic of faith, that little foursome – courage, fortitude, wisdom and spirituality – represent to me a prayer applicable for life, to whatever greater power a person believes in. And then I think of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. I’ve never been a Catholic, but I believe there is wisdom across the spectrum of faith. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a local paper published an interview they had with him, and he was quoted as saying something along the lines of “I don’t pray to God to take away the cancer. I pray to him to give me the strength and wisdom to deal with it and to help others to do the same.” I was humbled by that statement, and breathed it in as wisdom that I needed then and continue to need when obstacles arise.

On a more light-hearted note, one of the gals in my knitting group makes me laugh because she has a “punishment” closet for craft projects gone bad. If the project annoys her, has awful instructions, insufficient bits, or is getting on her nerves for any reason, it goes into the closet for being naughty. Eventually, when she feels like she’s able to deal with a truculent, fiddly project, she’ll rootle through her closet and find something that has been suitably punished and bring it out and work on it. She claims, tongue in cheek, that sitting in the closet causes them to rethink their resistance to being crafted and they are much more amenable later. She has one project though that still shows no remorse, despite serving a total of nearly 10 years in the closet. It has not yet been deemed completely unsalvageable, and she optimistically estimates it should be more approachable before the end of the decade.

Oddball Word of the Day

ruction (ruck-SHEN) n. a noisy disturbance, quarrel, or uproar

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday (Where did the other four days go?) Five

1. Tutoring: I’m a volunteer tutor two days a week at the middle school and a private tutor for an adult learning German in the evenings, once or twice a week, depending on when she can get away.

2. Housewifery: (snort) Of course. It’s fun being the fill-in-the-blank fairy, i.e. grocery shopping, toilet sanitizing, laundry, dry cleaning, stair mopping, dog training, dinner cooking, etc. Amazing how much time gets spent doing things other people find invisible.

3. Following up on “professionals” who ought to know better: School district employees. I think that’s self-explanatory.

4. Calling depressed people: I’m no Pollyanna; I just call up folks who missed group and find out why the hell they weren’t there because I’m nosy. Usually, they wind up admitting they didn’t go because they were too depressed, and, yes, they realize the irony, and then they promise to show up the following week and most of the time they do. I’ve bailed once or twice myself. Someone called me, too.

5. Getting ready to get ready, aka Productive Procrastination: I have a bunch of family accounting to do. It’s mounting. So, I’m neatly arranging and categorizing piles of paper, labeling files, organizing receipts, and…. Not doing it. I’ll get there. I just need to get really DANGEROUSLY ready. Urk.

Have a good weekend!

German Idiom for Friday

Was soll das heissen? : What's the meaning of this/that? (I've also heard it as, "Was soll das?" and akin to "what do you think you're doing?" or "What's THAT supposed to be?" in tone and intent.)

zB: Was soll das heissen? Warum bist du nicht in der Schule?

auf Englisch: What's the meaning of this? Why aren't you in school?

(from the guide to German Idioms by JP Lupson)

Oddball Word of the Day

splendiferous (splen-DIF-er-us) adj. magnificent; splendid

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, September 27, 2007


First off, I just finished a pair of anklets for my daughter from Zarina washable baby wool. It’s very, very soft. The ball band says to use size 4 needles, and my swatch was dead on gauge. The problem, however, was that that size needle led to a super stretchy fabric, which would have made the socks sloppily large. I went down to a size 2 needle, and, due to the stretch, was able to use the same number of cast on stitches for a tidy pair of anklets.

Then, I bit the bullet, so to speak. I’ve been desperately in need of putting my knitting tools in some kind of sane, predictable, adult order. Some time ago, my husband bought me a carpenter’s tool bag for a gift, since I had envied the stay-open top and multiple pockets. I knew I’d need further internal organization for the needles and such because having them flop around inside would not really solve the problem. I already had one fabric needle case for straights, but I didn’t like it – there weren’t nearly enough slots for all my needles, there certainly weren’t enough spaces for my dpns, and I couldn’t see inside of it. Also, being opaque, I was likely to open it upside down and then things would fall out and need to be size-checked and put back in – very often. Highly annoying.

So, I went on an online quest. I searched many, many online knitting suppliers and finally found what I was looking for at Elann. They carry Ashland Sky Knit Stick Sacks, which are made of very heavy duty frosted plastic with durable fabric trim, in a wide variety of styles and sizes. You can look at their wonderful offerings here .
(This is the circular needle sack, into which I just shoved the packs of circs to make sure I had enough space for them all)

I got my Stick Sacks two days ago and was so inspired by their high quality that I started sorting and loading my excessive hoard of knitting needles into them within 24 hours. I would not have believed it possible, because I really do have a LOT of needles, including numerous multiples of some sizes (which comes from buying stuff for a nickel at thrift shops/garage sales, and then spacing out on which ones I have when I go to a real yarn store, and buying more of the same), but I was able to fit every single need I own into the stick stacks. And I can see them without having to unfurl the sack. It’s wonderful!

One of the nicest features about the sacks is that they each have a deep flap which covers well past the exposed part of the needle while it’s in its compartment, so I could just about juggle with them and nothing would fall out. The slightly textured plastic holds them in place pretty well, too. I am extremely pleased with them and recommend them to anyone who has more than one set of needles – they have a “multipack” for fairly new knitters who may have only one or two of each type – single points, dpns, circs, etc. You can locate either an online store or a knit shop near you, which carries their goods at the link above. They also have sacks for crochet supplies.

It was a huge load off my mind to have all my needles in good order for once, and in one location, so I made good use of the carpenter’s bag, which is big enough for my folded up ball winder and swift, too. My worktable is now fairly clear, and I feel much easier about my supplies being protected from marauding children and baby dogs, and I can FIND things now, right away!

So, mind at peace, at least to some extent, I swatched the gorgeous Blue Heron beaded wool. The ball band says to use size 7 needles, so here’s the swatch on 7’s.

It was wonderful to work with – smooth on the fingers, and for a textured yarn, it knits up pretty evenly. Even the back looks nice!

(P.S. -- I am a sucky photographer, but I mean well)

I think I could easily go up at least one more needle size, if I wanted to, without it starting to look scrawny and overly gappy. I’m thinking of making a sweater for myself, especially since I picked up a copy of Big Girl Knits. Nice fitting tips and a couple of nice patterns in there for the fluffier amongst us. While I ponder the delights of a luxury sweater for myself, I’m swatching a pair of anklets for myself from Fleece Artists washable merino sock yarn in autumn tones. Oooh, it feels nice to spoil myself!

Knit on!

Oddball Word of the Day

nostrum (NOS-trehm) n. 1. a patent medicine, 2. a remedy, scheme, etc., intended to solve all problems; panacea

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, September 24, 2007


I had one of those negative moments of enlightenment last week. I don’t like them much.

Some time ago, and completely without malice, one of my kids mentioned to a friend that I was a Mensan, and that kid mentioned it to their mom, and the mom became interested in being friends. I don’t like to make assumptions, and I don’t casually spurn offers of friendship, so we’ve met for cards or lunch from time to time and have a good time talking and so forth.

For the most part, I thought we were bonding over being in the same age range, having kids the same age who were friends, having similar interests, and all that other “friendship” stuff. I did know that I wished she didn’t know about my Mensan status because she brought it up several times in conversation, and it made me uncomfortable. I turned the conversation in other directions and mentally moved on.

Well, earlier this week, we were both in a group of people, and we were all talking about experiences with doctors. My friend mentioned her doctor, I asked what she liked about him, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Well, he’s a Mensan, so, you know, we get along…” It was like she was saying he was a member of the right country club, or the right class, as if we shared a mutual bigotry.

Now, mind you, my friend is not a Mensan. I have no idea of whether or not she has checked into joining, or if she’s qualified or not. I’ll be honest, though, and say that I have my doubts and leave it, snottily, at that. And, basically, I don’t care because I don’t become, or stay, friends with people on that basis. It has never occurred to me to even consider whether or not friends are up to some intellectual benchmark, other than I may realize on some level that they are having trouble learning something I take for granted, or they occasionally poke fun at me for being a walking dictionary.

When she said that I was shocked, and then I was hurt, and then I was angry. I could feel myself withdrawing from her, too. I feel betrayed, too, and the suspicion is there that if I hadn’t “qualified”, she wouldn’t have given me the time of day. None of this means that I’m going to dump her, reject her friendship, or cut her out; friends are too rare and, by gum, I have plenty of my own flaws and quirks and subconscious white noise going on to take it THAT personally.

But I heard it, and it stuck, and it fit, and that makes it unforgettable, which is the hard part of the entire encounter. I also know now that we will never become the kind of friends we might have been had I not realized how important other people’s IQ qualifications are to her. I feel dirtied by implication. I have, unknowingly, lain down with fleas, as it were.

And, I’m going to have to explicitly set a boundary with her myself, which pisses me off. I’m going to have to tell her, just like I’ve told my family, that I consider it personal information that should not be disseminated without my express permission. I hate that she and her ego have put me in the position of having to do so.

Or, possibly, I am a big wienerhead.

Oddball Word of the Day

chary (CHAIR-ee) adj. cautious; careful; wary; timid; frugal or sparing

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Five Things I Could Have Done Without This Week

1. Monkeyshines with the school district: They had a total lapse of brain function with respect to proper procedure for Doodle’s 504 and handed out THEIR rough draft without ever giving me a copy and without letting me know they were doing so. Consequently, I was contacted by a couple of teachers asking about the particulars. I think the teachers were great – they were jumping right on to helping Doodle. Unfortunately, it felt a lot like sandbagging to me. I wrote an extremely polite email to the gun-jumpers about procedural safeguards. I later received a reasonably polite response and acknowledgement that I was right. It’s enough. Why do they always think they can do stuff like this and get away with it? (OK, that was 90% rhetorical.)

2. Hot weather: Hey! I thought we were done with that for the year! I was looking forward to long pants again!

3. A slow leak into the basement: One of the toilets needs a wax ring replaced. I hate knowing this much about plumbing.

4. A backed up kitchen sink: see no. 3 above. I should be grateful that my husband will jump into the breach and deal with the nasty bits, though.

5. Insomnia: always makes me feel like I’ve missed the next day. It happened twice this week. I did get to watch some interesting movies, but in a choice between REM sleep and movies from the 80’s, I vote for sleep.

Soldiering on…

German Idiom for Friday

Mir faellt ein Stein vom Herzen. : It's a load off my mind.

zB: Als der Lehrer mir sagte, dass ich nicht sitzenbleiben muesste, fiel mir ein Stein vom Herzen.

auf Englisch: When the teacher told me that I did not have to repeat the year, it was a load off my mind.

(from the guide to German Idioms by JP Lupson)

Oddball Word of the Day

derisible (dee-RIZ-ih-bul): adj. worthy of being mocked or derided

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Big Hocks

I have finished the “Big Hocks” socks for Doodle. I think one is ¼ inch longer in the leg portion than the other one, but also hope he won’t notice. I’m not going to tell him, and if you tell him, you get to fix it! Ha!

Also, notice how I have ostentatiously displayed them on top of luxury yarn from my last yarn waddle. I like to get all kinds of mileage out of my yarn purchases – pictures included!

Oddball Word of the Day

charily (CHAIR-eh-lee) adv. cautiously; carefully

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oddball Word of the Day

agrypnia (eh-GRIP-nee-uh) n. sleeplessness; insomnia

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beat the Rap

I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah

Don’t matter if it’s costly
Or if the stuff was free
What’s jivin’ is how easy
It is to get to, see?

‘Cause I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah.

I sneak up in the night
When the Momma’s outta sight
I slither and I slink
To get the wooly thingk.

‘Cause I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah.

They gave me a Kong Wubba
It’s tougher than my Bubba.
The Hoover’s all wore out,
But the Wubba is still stout.

But I’m a yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah.

I got my neck some bling
Love the sound of it, “Ching, ching”
But nuthin’ beats the string,
It’s the only, every thing.

‘Cause I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah!


(whispered) “yarrrrrn MANGLAH!”

Oddball Word of the Day

snollygoster (SNAHL-ee-Gahs-ter) n. a clever, unprincipled person

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Day My Kids Grew Up

This morning I awoke to the sound of Bunny yelling, “BUS”. I ran to the kitchen to see her and Doodle lunging across the lawn and climbing onto the school bus. At my spot at the dining room table was a note, which read:

Mom –

Doodle and I got our lunch money and he took his pill. I decided to let you sleep – please don’t be mad. Love you.

- Bunny

When I read it, tears formed in my eyes because for the first time in the 20 years I’ve been a parent, someone else:

a) knew what needed to be done
b) did it
c) without being asked
d) got it right

For the first time in 20 years, I didn’t HAVE to be the officer on deck. Someone else picked up the reins, responsibly, and carried through. Only another mother can understand what that means. It means freedom.

Because there is a secret in the world of stay-at-home moms; the vast majority of us do it because we don’t have a choice. The reasons are varied – maybe our jobs didn’t pay enough to cover childcare and transportation to and fro. Maybe our spouses never did learn to pick up a 50% share of parenting without resentment and/or ineptitude. Maybe their jobs didn’t allow them to do so reliably. Maybe our kids have special needs that make extra time devoted to parenting and supervision and follow through necessary. Whatever the reason, few moms leave the security of a second income, pension, and paid health care on a whim; most of us have to leave.

And, we go back to work when and how we can – working from home, squeezing whatever income we can out between being in full charge of the children and home, working weekends when possible, working swing shift if husband’s hours are regular enough to let us do so; we know the consequences of being away from the work world for too long – lack of income, lack of financial security, lack of respect, loss of identity, etc.

I’ve made those choices myself. I am long past grieving the goodies of a full-time job and well entrenched in understanding the intangible rewards of being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve worked weekends, tutoring, small projects, doing what amounts to petty cash pick-up over the years with no reward other than the cash in my hand, a change in my routine, and a filthy kitchen and cranky family members to come home to. Sometimes it’s just not worth it, so I stop for a while.

But today, someone else stepped in where there was a need – I didn’t get to sleep until very late last night and consequently overslept. In the past, this usually meant that the kids didn’t wake up on time, didn’t get the essentials done on time, and I had to drive them to school or come in later with whatever they forgot.

If, in the past, I were sick, I needed to ask in advance for help—to ask my husband to get them up, medicated, fed, etc. He would do so, but there was always the underlying silent message that he hoped I wouldn’t thus inconvenience him for too long. Sometimes he’d even say, “why can’t they do that for themselves?” not being able to step outside of himself enough to notice that they’re children, not miniature, uncooperative adults, and they need supervision and leadership. On the rare occasions when I might have overslept, he’d blithely leave for work without waking me or the kids, and then I’d wind up in full ultra-panic mode when I did wake up. Sometimes, when he was at his least involved in the family, if I thought I might oversleep, I’d just bring my alarm clock downstairs and sleep on the couch, or stay up all night until I got the kids off to school, and then collapse with great guilt and sadness and sleep during the day. Fortunately, the worst of those days seem to be in the past.

For the last three years or so, I’ve given increasingly more serious consideration to going back to work. We have the financial need; the sticking point has been the potential stress/mishap level if I am not available to be the responsible parent when the kids need to leave for school and come home, and if I’m not here when homework needs to be monitored. I threw the suggestion out, told the family what would need to happen on their parts, and watched, as I work on getting myself more prepared for another major life transition. There are trade-offs to be weighed in terms of what can and cannot get done, the stress level I’m willing to accept for myself and the family, and compromises to be analyzed for short and long-term impact.

The results have been mixed; kids oversleeping, homework not being done promptly or without prompting, no one taking responsibility for feeding the pets, cleaning up after themselves, with some changes occurring -- helping out, working more as a team, dual grocery shopping, hubs helping to make dinner once a week and taking more of an interest in interacting with the children, the kids doing better at getting up with their alarms… Mixed, like I said.

Until today. This note is the first real ray of substantial light shining from the end of the s-a-h tunnel. There’s a chance that I could actually go back to work on a regular basis without the whole family crashing around me as a result. It’s being a surprisingly emotional moment for me, in a good way.

Oddball Word of the Day

autonomy (aw-TAWN-uh-mee) n. 1. self-government; independence. 2. a self-governing community

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Yarn Update

Ooh, naughty me! I went yarn shopping at FRINGE and didn't share the lovely yarn. Well, here we have, back left, some Blackberry Ridge Olive Tree worsted weight; going right, Cherry Tree Hill superwash worsted in "Life's a Beach", then a noname ball of mohair blend on top of a couple of skeins of Blue Heron beaded wool in colorway Copper (to die for, just to die for -- soft, smooth on the fingers, and a truly wonderful colorway). Bottom right is some UltraAlpaca in Teal Blue, which has a little violet in it that's hard to see.

Here's a better view of the UltraAlpaca on the left, with another view of the Olive Tree yarn at the top. Again the Blue Heron Copper yarn in the middle, and two skeins (the last two in the store, which got me STERN looks from my cohort in yarn shoppery!) of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Sunburst and Indian Corn.

I now have five of the generous Bearfoot skeins, all in similar colorways, and I'm thinking....shawl in graduated tones? Hmmmmm. Meanwhile, I'm fondling the yarn.

This is going to have to be the end of large purchases for a while, though. I have plenty of new yarn to keep me busy through year end, and let's not even discuss the SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) status. The hot summer really put me off pace for grinding through that. I'm finishing up Sock Two! The Sequel! to the Opal yarn socks for Doodle. I have to think of it that way to keep myself excited about doing the second sock, otherwise I might wind up the owner of a great many singleton socks.

Baby Gracie did get ahold of one of the Blackberry Ridge skeins of Olive Tree the other day. We had words. Some of them were "bad" and "dog" and "yarnmangling mammal". Others involved where dogs, no matter how little, might find themselves if they continue to mangle yarn. It wasn't as bad as it could have been; she didn't actually eat through the yarn, she just tangled it into a scary looking squirrel's nest. The hank ties were still in place, so I was able to finger comb about 70% of the tangles out, then I put it on the swift and hand wound it into a ball. It's fine, and the wee emergency back up dog and I are friends again.

Speaking of wee doggies, here she is, enjoying a warm spot on Bunny's bed. We gals all like the same things, regardless of age!

German Idiom for Friday

sich (dat.) kein Bein ausreissen : not to strain oneself

zB: Wenn Guenther im Garten arbeitet, reisst er sich kein Bein aus.

auf Englisch: When Gunther worsk in the garden, he doesn't strain himself.

(from the guide to German Idioms by JP Lupson)

Oddball Word of the Day

nabob (NAY-bahb) n. a man of great wealth, esp. one who has made his fortune in India or some other eastern country.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Baby Gracie Plans a Trip

(One sandal, one slipper, one sneaker, one mitten, an umbrella, three squeaky toys, a sheet of notebook paper, a pencil stub, an ice bag, and a pamphlet from the University of Illinois)

…Meanwhile, over in the corner in the kitchen, Baby Gracie’s Mommy realizes she should have cleaned the fridge right after the power outage two weeks ago. BGM is going to use a LOT of Lysol today.

Oh, Kim and Aggie! Where are you when I need you?! Oh, woe and dismay. (Stop licking the stinky fridge, Gracie.)

Oddball Word of the Day

blowzy (BLOU-zee) adj. 1. having a coarse reddish-colored complexion, 2. untidy in appearance; unkempt, sluttish

(from the guide to MMMW by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frabjous Yarn

[One Popular Science Magazine, two pieces of graded homework, one ball of red yarn (Bad Dog!), one empty toilet paper roll, two cups of coffee, and one vitamin…]

Good Morning! I went on another yarn crawl yesterday with my nice friend from Chix who is kind enough to do all the driving and who has excellent taste in yarn, patterns, and, of course friends. We went to FRINGE where I bought way too much beautiful yarn, we ogled the gorgeous hand-dyed yarn the owners make, and then talked about Stitches Midwest.

Same good friend and I had gone to Stitches, but I hadn’t talked about it because… I wasn’t that excited. I didn’t go to any classes, and, while there is a world of stuff to be learned in knitting, after doing it for over 30 years, I’m really OK with my skills and preferences as they are. I have no interest and no time for getting involved in spinning or raising fiber creatures, and, most everything else I’ve either done or can figure out with a few good pictures and one reliable introductory pattern. I suppose I’m jaded.

Anyway, we did go to the yarn market. It was better than the best yarn store, however, there wasn’t anything this year that really grabbed my attention and made me want to set roots into the floor until I could claim it as mine. There were lots of hand-dyed yarns, many, many shop displays, and a nice little corner where I sat down and knitted on a square for a local group’s Project Linus blankets. I did do one thing that I’ve been wanting to do for many years – I got to see and touch qiviut yarn. (I just found out it’s pronounced KIV-EE-UTE, not kwivet, as I had previously seen and said. Love learning new stuff!)

Now, the legend dwelling in my head says that qiviut yarn is made from hand-plucked fibers from the undercoat of the Alaskan Musk Ox. Possibly wild musk oxen, but even my imagination has some limitations. I’m pretty sure it must be hand-plucked because building an apparatus for musk ox undercoat removal doesn’t seem like a big market to me, plus, just thinking about standing in front of a musk ox and saying, “Hey, pass the musk-ox-undercoat-plucking apparatus” makes my tongue dizzy. It’s reputed to be the most expensive yarn in the world. At $82 for a teeny tiny 2 oz. ball of superfine lace weight yarn, I’d have to say that sounds accurate. It was definitely $82 dollars worth of slobber-inducing softness, though, and I’m glad I got to finally fondle some.

Anyway, when I brought this up yesterday, the shopkeeper asked, “What would you make with it?” I couldn’t think of a single thing that I’d want to spend such an unspeakable amount of money per yard on, and the first thing that popped into my head was, “Nothing. I’d keep it in my pocket like a talisman to fondle, and on the last day of my life I’d swallow it and yell, ‘I’M TAKING IT WITH ME!’ before I check out.” After we all finished peeing in our pants, I bought enough lovely Blue Heron yarn to make Bunny a sweater, and we toddled homewards.

I have no idea what came over me, but it’s probably closer to the truth than I can easily admit to.

Oddball Word of the Day

san souci (sahn-sue-SEE) French. without care; carefree; unconcerned

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life With Gracie

Monday: Ooh, isn’t she cute? She’s so little! Look at her tiny feet! Oh, she piddled in the house; she must be nervous, poor little thing. Oh, I guess a talking bird is a surprise to her. You’ll love it here, Gracie, we promise!

Tuesday: early - Why does my den smell like a cesspool? O-h-m-i-g-o-d. How can such a tiny dog produce that much crap? Holy sh*t. And the area rug is damp, too. Oh, my. Doodle, get me the window cleaner, a scrub brush, a roll of toilet paper and a roll of paper towels. Bunny, get me a bucket of warm water. Spawn, I’ll need you to amuse Gracie while I clean this up.

Tuesday: 30 minutes later – Have a great day, kids! Close the door! ALL THE WAY! HOLD IT, Gracie; I’m only in my robe! Gotcha. What’s that in your mouth? Paper? Where did you get… OK, trade you for this tiny treat. No, really, ooooooopen your mouth and give me the… COME BACK HERE!

Tuesday: after first cup of coffee drunk - 7 different shoes, one crossword puzzle book, two ball bearings, two (partially licked) school glue sticks, three dried up marker pens, countless bits of paper, some of which were thoroughly disgusting, later… Need to go outside, Gracie? (Vacuum entire first floor and close all possible doors while the dogs are out) Hey, did you guys have fun? HEY, didn’t you piddle OUTSIDE? Where’s the mop?

Tuesday: late afternoon after fourth aspirin for aching back – Hello, hubs? I need you to make stopping off for a crate for Gracie a priority. Trust me on this one. (falls asleep on couch at 8 pm)

Wednesday: 3 shoes, one magazine, one pencil, one pen, one marble, a sock, and one cup of coffee later – Let’s wake up the kids, doggies! Gracie, wake up Bunny! “AAAAGH, don’t lick me! Oh, it’s you. Hi, Gracie, I’m up now.” OK, let’s wake up the Doodle… “AAAAGH, stop smelling my armpits! No, don’t jump up here; I don’t want your slimy rawhide on my bed! I’m up, I’m up!”

Let’s play fetch, Gracie! Look at this great squeaky pig! FETCH! Bring it to Mommy! Good girl. Release. Release. Trade you this tiny treat for the… No, Hoover, it’s for Gracie. Let’s try this again. FETCH! Oh, thank you, Hoover. OK, leave my pocket alone, here’s a treat. HOLD ON, what’ve you got NOW, Gracie? Is that a plastic covered planner? I didn’t even know we had that. Thank you. Let’s try learning to sit. No, don’t lick my pants. Leave my shoe alone. OK, let’s watch TV.
Oh, yuck, I can’t believe you did that in your crate…and…chew your food better!

Thursday: two shoes, a worksheet packet on German nouns, a cup of coffee and a vitamin later – Right! Crate clean? Den clean? No obvious papers lying around? Garbage swept up from around the can? Okey dokey! Hey, why do you look like Father Christmas, Gracie? What is that? Is that a wad of Hoover’s shed hair? Where did you find that? No, don’t eat it…. Too late.

Oh, good, you guys are wrestling, tails are wagging, play posture in evidence, I can do laundry. Oh, wrestling in the basement? That’s OK, too. Tra la la, this is OK, I can even sit down now! Uh-oh, stop smelling his eyes, Gracie, he doesn’t like that. And don’t lick his mouth, he’s tired, you wore him out. Whoopsie, guess she’ll remember that little reminder from Hoover! Too bad I can’t praise him for that bark. That was bodacious. Nice to know he can do that.

Thursday, later: Oh, that’s cute, Gracie’s sitting on Hubs’ lap. That’s precious. “Hey, dear, grab the camera, you’ve got to see this!” Back to living room to find Hoover on Hubs’ lap and Gracie leaping along the back of the couch, smelling Hoover’s eyes again and trying to lick his tongue. I get a picture of the back of everyone’s head as Hoover buries his head in Hubs’ armpit.

Friday: two cloth napkins, two of Spawn’s bedroom slippers, a cup of coffee and a vitamin later – Gracie goes out, does her business, comes back in with Hoover, sits for a treat. She drinks her water, lies down on a throw rug and chews her rawhide while the kids get ready for school. They open the fridge, she runs over and licks the frame. OK, can’t solve everything in a week. No more poos or puddles in the house, we’ve stopped smelling everyone’s eyes and leaping on people, and we are learning how to behave acceptably. We have a little paper and ice cube fixation, but a nice steak bone from tonight’s dinner certainly seems to distract us from paper.

Saturday: one magazine insert, one shoe, one bedroom slipper, coffee, and a vitamin later - WALKIES! We love walkies! We ignore lots of things during walkies, except smells; we like smells. Sniff tour of backyard with Hoover, who knows where everyone and everything is and what they’re called. Rabbit used to be here, old dog to the west, two middle-aged dogs to the north, oooh, is that a bird? Outdoor wrestling is great!

Sunday: one bedroom slipper, one bobby pin, one sheet of homework instructions, one ball of yarn (Bad Dog!), two cups of coffee and one vitamin - Gracie meets the Bad Shaky Can because she jumped on a visitor. I refuse to feel guilty when she slinks away and eels under the coffee table in shame. The Hoover dog gives her a disgusted look after checking to make sure he hasn’t done anything bad enough to merit the sound of the shaky can. She is roundly snubbed by Hoover until she makes amends to the visitor by sitting at his feet and has a proper round of Fetch with Alpha Mom.

Life is great here after all, Gracie! Wrestling, couches, five people to scratch Baby Gracie and coo at her, a big back yard, walkies and fetchies and run till you drop if you want to! Whee! But no piddling in the house; that’s OK, she’s learning to go as soon as she goes out; the Hoover dog showed her the “zone”.

Breathe in, breathe out. Cuddle the puppy; she’s working hard, too.

Oddball Word of the Day

monteith (mon-TEETH) n. a punch bowl, usually of silver, with a notched rim on which punch cups can be hung

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Happy Doggy Day!

We have a new/slightly used 4-month-old black lab named Gracie. She and the Hoove have been having big fun in the back yard as he teaches her the finer points of playing fetch and smelling every corner of the yard to make sure she knows who and what has been there.

Gracie also got a big surprise in our kitchen. She noticed Hawthorne, and he noticed her. As she got closer and closer to smell better, he gave her a hearty “HELLO!” which startled her so much she backed three feet away from him in a nanosecond.

She’s a good learner – so far she’s working on the “release” part of playing fetch fairly successfully, and she has no problem being subordinate to Old Man Hoover, who is not all that bossy anyway. She’s social and shares well. We do have to stop a few of her bad habits, though. She jumps onto people and slobbers in their faces very enthusiastically, neither of which are really all that friendly, when you think about it. No problem – Hoover was the same way.

Puppies are good teachers, too! Today I learned that we have too much crap and most of it is on the floor! Good thing she’s made such headway on “bring it to Mommy” and “release!” We had a very zippy morning; so far we’re up to seven different shoes, one lost highlighter, a crossword puzzle book, three pieces of paper, and a large wad of Hoover hair I couldn’t get to with the broom.

She likes to be helpful. This morning she helped my sleepy children out of bed by first leaping on Bunny and slurping her face, “AAAAGH! Good morning to you, too, Gracie!” Then she assisted in rousting the Doodle by snorting in his armpit, and, when he lurched straight upward, hooting, “Noooo! Down!” she grabbed his shoe and dashed off.

Gracie made sure Spawn didn’t miss his early college class by sneaking into his room when he slouched off to the bathroom and stealing one of his aluminum cans. She then flung it repeatedly on the tile floor for that audio component of waking-up cheer. Like I said, good thing she’s getting better at “Release!”

I also learned that she needs to go out more often than anyone other than me is willing accommodate. We will be exploring her reactions to a vacuum cleaner and a mop shortly.

She likes a good game of tug with a knotted rope toy, and we had fun playing indoor fetch with a squeaky fabric pig. Rawhide helps the itchy, teething gums, and, like most puppies, when she’s tired, she falls over and sleeps like the dead for a half an hour to recharge her batteries. She’s a cuddler and a quick learner, both good things.

She’s just a busy, sweet, curious puppy who is very eager to learn how to be a good dog. I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun getting to know each other better.

Oddball Word of the Day

riant (RYE-ent) adj. laughing; smiling; cheerful

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Hot weather, humidity, power outages…stick a fork in me, I’m done. When the road gets this rough, it’s time for socks that pamper. For me, that means socks that pamper my fingers as I knit them. I like making socks for myself, but there just aren’t that many occasions for me to wear upscale socks.

My oldest son has the advanced teenaged male habit of wearing socks until they are stiff and horrible, which does not work well with handmade socks at all. My daughter wishes her feet were smaller, so her socks are crammed into shoes (along with her feet) that are, um, insufficiently roomy, so the socks get stressed along the heel line. Hubs is not a sock man; he’ll wear plain black socks all year round, and the only time he makes noises about wooly socks is in the winter, but he just wants plain black. I’d rather stick my needles in my eyes than make a bunch of plain black socks, so I just buy him socks.

Doodle, on the other hand, is young enough to find colorful socks fun, has no problem answering the question, “Oooh, wild socks! Where’d you get them?” with appropriate smug delight that someone loves him enough to hand make him socks by saying, “My Mom! Aren’t they cool?” To which the answer is usually, “Awesome! Your mom can make SOCKS?” All of which makes for nice ego maintenance when he tells me about that days’ sock conversation. He also wears his shoes a little big, since he’s still growing, and the socks last longer.

On one of my delightful yarn crawls this summer, I picked up this beautiful “Blauer Mond” yarn by Opal. I tried the sideways sock pattern, but the further I got, the less I liked it. I dithered over frogging for a while, and, just before the big rains hit last week, I did the dirty deed. The subsequent lousy weather mandated that I do something relaxing and low tech, so I started a sock for the Doodle; it’s a manly sock of ribbed leg and top of foot, but with that fabulous yarn. I’m through about 2/3 of the required foot length, and I still love this yarn. It looks like, at 100 grams, there will be plenty for a pair.

HOWEVER, and this is one of those sneaky cheapskate things, even if there isn’t quite enough, I can add in another sock yarn, possibly contrasting, for the toe, which no one will see. I’ve done this before, usually when a yarn ball runs shorter than I, or my gauge, anticipated, and the kids kind of like having different colored toes on their socks. I have also been known to unravel a finished toe zone to scavenge enough yarn for the ankle area of the second sock so that, while in shoes, they look like a match. Then, each sock gets a toe in some other yarn. This is possibly one of the reasons that I generally prefer leg-down sock making rather than toe-up socks. (The other reason is that working toe-up feels funky and strained around the heel/ankle area, and I don’t enjoy it.)

These cozy puppies should be ready, washed, and snuggly in plenty of time for the first frost. Mmmmmmm.

Oddball Word of the Day

billet-doux (bil-ee-DOO) n. a love letter

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


We’ve had a great many heavy rainstorms lately, and while I normally enjoy rain, this was not the kind I could watch wistfully or offhandedly from my perch on the couch and daydream about hot soup and giggling children stomping in puddles. It’s been the kind of rain where the dog clamps his body to my feet, shivering in terror while the wind blows branches off trees and shingles off roofs, the lights flicker on and off, and the children get sent home early because of tornado warnings.

We lost power on Thursday night, along with several thousand other people, and made it through to Friday morning, when we listened to the car radio to find out if the kids were still supposed to go to school, which they were. It wasn’t raining at the time, and I had hopes of being electrified again, so to speak, within a few hours. Just like the last couple of weeks, it was a 90-degree sauna outside, so the dog and I decided to hang out in the coolest room in the house, the living room, for a while.

The school sent the kids home just ahead of the next big storm, and man, oh, man did it rain! My husband was out checking on some clients who’d had lightening strike their home directly, so we knew he’d be late, and since the water supply was dicey with the pump out of commission, I started instructing the children on how to preserve the potable water.

“Don’t flush the toilets!” I urged, “The water in the tank is presumably potable!” Having seen the inside of the toilet tanks, I figured we could all manage on Kool-Aid and soda pop and give the tank water to the dog, if it got that bad. “Use hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands, we’ve got Stridex pads for all for sweaty faces, and nobody open the fridge!”

The kids gave me a look like I had just announced we were going to live in a bog and feed off of swamp critters for the remainder of their lives.

“Don’t flush?” they exclaimed, “That’s yucky!”

“You get one flush, guys, if you do, and then you’ll have used up the majority of our water supply,” I responded. Naturally, that made everyone have to pee, and, of course, ten minutes later, out of habit and sheer absentmindedness, there was a flush.

“AAARGH!” I yelled at the flusher, “What were you thinking?”

“Dang… Oops,” he replied. I handed him a bucket. Then I handed buckets to the other children. “It’s time to learn about manual flushing,” I said, “go get a bucket of water from the swimming pool.”

Bunny looked at her bucket and then looked at me in dismay. “You’re kidding, right, Mom? You don’t actually mean this, do you?” she asked.

I looked at her, raised my eyebrow and said, “Fortunately, it’s chlorinated, too. That’s an added boon. Shoo!” The kids trooped out to the pool like a fire brigade, returning with filled buckets. I showed them the technique. They decided it was icky. I told them it would be a lot ickier if we didn’t use that method, and had a bucket of water stationed in each bathroom. I decided against regaling them with tales from my youthful vacations to country relatives of outhouses, snake warnings, used catalogs and combining all three in the dark.

And that was only the first of the lessons in living without power. I’d have had to be more assertive and knowledgeable and really resourceful if my husband hadn’t come home. I think he was born under a lucky star in some ways. Cars that clank and thump and wheeze when I drive them run like Formula One race winners as soon as he gets behind the wheel – he doesn’t have to do anything other than exude mechanical competence at cars for them to run at peak performance. He has the same kind of luck with electrical stuff, which we found out about when he got home.

He walked in, carrying two cases of bottled water, given to him by the grateful lightening-struck clients, and said, “We’ve got power in the barn.”

“Hurray!” we all yelled, “does that mean we’ll have power back here soon?”

“Probably not,” he replied, “the barn is on a different transformer, but I can run an extension cord from there to here, and we can run the phone and maybe the refrigerator, and I’ll see what else I can figure out.”

“Holy crap,” I said, at a loss, “Well, welcome home, hero!” He replied with a smart aleck grin.

He managed to run two heavy duty extension cords, linked to smaller extension cords, over and over again into the house, and he set up the things that were important to him – One cord ran the phone and the frig and had an outlet left over for use on either the coffee maker or the electric skillet, which, with an all electric house, was going to be the only way we were going to get a meal that wasn’t straight out of a can or smeared on bread. He used the other cord to turn the living room back into his personal Man Cave – he plugged in his big screen TV, the satellite box, the VCR, a lamp, and an upright fan. “I’m fine now,” he said, “I’ve got light, moving air, and entertainment. I’m a happy camper.”

I looked at him, feeling vaguely annoyed, and said, “Well, you’ll be glad to know there’s a filled bucket in the bathroom, too.”

“Oh, good,” he said as he lay down on the couch and yawned, “I was wondering what we were going to do about that. Any dinner ideas?”

When I called the power company, so many people were suffering outages that I got an automated response telling me we wouldn’t even have an estimate for repairs until late Sunday night, so I wound up teaching the kids how to brush their teeth with mouthwash, dine cheerfully by candlelight on foods that can be cooked in an electric skillet, and take sponge baths with a minimum of water.

They were a little grumpy about having to watch Dad’s bang-clank TV choices and not having the Internet available to them, but we’re all big readers, so it wasn’t too much different for us during the daylight hours. When the power was restored late Saturday afternoon, we let out a cheer, turned on the air conditioning, and coiled up the extension cords.

All in all, it was a lot like camping only somewhat better. Lots of people in our area were not so lucky – our county has been declared a disaster area by the governor due to flash flooding that occurred, and many people are still cleaning out their manky, flooded basements. I’ve complained in the past about my nasty, sandy soil which makes it hard to grow flowers and vegetables, but I was awfully glad for it this past weekend – no leaks, no drips, no mildew, mold or mustiness.

And, no, I don’t want to buy a generator. In the 11 years we’ve lived here, we’ve only had one other significant power outage, and that only lasted 12 hours. I don’t think we’d really get our money’s worth out of it.

Now, if only my husband’s lucky star covered plumbing, too, I’d never have to worry about the septic tank ever again!

Oddball Word of the Day

fallal (fah-LALL) n. a frivolous piece of finery; a useless article of dress

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

There’s a Cream for That?

Sometime ago I think I mentioned that we sent Spawn off for anger management therapy. It’s been pretty successful – we haven’t had any more scary temper storms, and I think it’s very helpful to him to talk to an adult to whom he is not related and get a third party point of view. He’s still going, and I really don’t care what they talk about; if he feels he’s getting value out of the time spent there, it’s not wasted money.

A few weeks ago, he asked me for a recommendation for a dermatologist. He’s had a slight problem with his complexion being flaky on top of teenaged acne, and it was getting on his nerves enough for him to want to talk to an expert. He went off for his first appointment today, then went to work in my husband’s office that afternoon.

When Spawn came home that afternoon, he told me the dermatologist had said he needed to use a prescription cream and cleanser, and if those didn’t work, there was some kind of pill they could try, but they were going to do this other route first. He seemed pleased with the doctor, and I went back to my normal routine.

It was a little different when Hubs came home, though. He charged in through the door, gave me a kiss and said, “Did Spawn tell you about the mix up?”

“Well, no,” I said, “what happened?”

“Well, he came into my office and announced, ‘I have bad news, good news, and better news. What do you want to hear first?’ I told him I’d take the bad news first, so he told me, ‘What I have is incurable!’ Then he said, ‘But the good news is that my doctor has it, too, and the better news is that there’s a cream for it!’ I thought he was talking about his therapist, and I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that there was a cream for anger management, so we had quite a time straightening out that misunderstanding!”

“Oh, shit,” I said, “’A cream for that, eh?’” And I started laughing and laughing and finally said, “Oh, lord, can you imagine the commercial? ‘HEAD-ON! Apply directly to the head! HOTHEAD-ON! Apply directly to the…’” And we both dissolved in laughter.

What a picture!

Oddball Word of the Day

unguent (UHN-gwent) n. a soft or liquid ointment for wounds, etc.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Things That Go Knit in the Night

I knit in the dark. Not all the time, just when I can’t get or stay asleep or when I wake up early and want to enjoy the combination of dark, quiet and coffee, but my hands are bored. I don’t work on complicated things, just regular garter stitch, maybe stockinette with a minor, regular variation. Occasionally, I’ve dropped stitches, miscounted, or made another mistake, but, since I was, after all, knitting in the dark, it doesn’t bother me as much as if I had made the same mistake in the full light and consciousness of day. I fix it, or decide if it’s unnoticeable enough to ignore and knit on.

I taught myself to do a number of things in the dark, or with my eyes closed, when I was a child. My Mom had told me, with perhaps either a perverse sense of humor which I mistook, or, which was more likely considering her other behavior, a sense of everyday cruelty, that the ophthalmologist had said I’d be blind by the time I was 40 years old. I accepted a lot of those kinds of remarks from my Mom back then without comment and that was one such. I felt a momentary stab of advance regret, and then I made up my mind, silently, to learn to do things by feel.

I taught myself to crochet by feel, all manner of patterns, and I once stood in front of a yarn display feeling the different colors to see if I could determine color by feel. I was very young and willing to experiment, just for the sake of trying, and I wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand about fibers – I thought all yarn was cheap acrylic. I also watched “The Miracle Worker” with Patty Duke several times, trying to figure out how Helen Keller had managed to write, and tried to learn to do that, too. My resulting writing was unlovely but legible.

I counted steps around the house, to school, and all kinds of other locations I frequently went, even though I knew I’d be moving to new places, going to different schools, and would probably have a cane or a dog to help me out. I wondered about what kind of assistance dog I’d have and wondered which one would be the best.

Then I started wondering what would happen if I also lost the use of my hands. I taught myself to tie my shoes, well, at least one of them, with the toes on the other foot, a feat that still astounds my children. Velcro hadn’t been invented back then, but that would have been a real time saver. I tried sensing my way around using my elbows as feelers, and with my eyes closed, and I wound up spending a lot of time sliding along walls.

I realized as I got older that the whole threat of blindness was just another one of my mother’s cruelties and stopped believing in it as an inevitability. Nevertheless, I still have the old habit of learning to do things by feel. I have found myself learning how to do a lot of things with my eyes closed after I had learned the basics with them open. It’s just a quirky thing I do. I found it basically only takes longer with my eyes closed, and the results may be a little different.

So, I knit in the dark when I don’t feel like turning on the lights. And, it’s six steps from my side of the bed to a right-hand turn, seven steps to another right, and four into the bathroom, where I can feel my way along the vanity to the necessary, in case you were wondering. I did put in a nightlight for my husband, though.