Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bah Humbug, Part II

The tree has fallen for the THIRD time. I quit!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bah Hambug!

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is peering down his nasty nose at me. This is THE most unprepared I have ever been for a holiday. I entered the weekend confident that nothing could prevent me from finishing up. Bah!

The Christmas Ghost decided that TWO snowstorms, one kid with pneumonia, another kid on her second snow day, and a third in from NYC who apparently has turned into a vampire and a slovenly one at that, was just the right way to knock me off center.

I was able to do some effective stash busting over the weekend. Two skeins of Noro turned into two Turn a Square hats. A bit of red wool left over from the Christmas stockings I just finsished became a Mountain Colors Pill Box Hat. Both patterns were quick knits. My gauge was off, so I was forced to do a bit of math as I did not want to down size the needles. Now the question: who is knitting worthy? Who will not turn up their noses at hand crafted with love warmth? We shall see...

Right now, I have to figure out how to wrap gifts with too many children in the house!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Quickie

I just added a two more to the bookshelf: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and Away. Check them out; they are both well worth the time!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What a Day!

I love it when the planets align. I would now like to count my blessings:

  1. 21 years with my husband. May he tolerate me for several more.

  2. My daughter's arrival on Tuesday; I have not seen her since Labor Day weekend and I NEED to give her a huge hug.

  3. The report cards in yesterday's mail. The twins are off to a good start:)

  4. The awesome cotton spinning class taught by Erica.

  5. The lunch I just had with friends who I never get to see often enough.

  6. My brother's family's impending visit. Happy Birthday Gabby:)

And the list can go on and on...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Far Be It From Me...

Truly, I hate to contradict another's opinion of a book. But seriously, The Truth Teller by Angela Hunt is hardly the 'suspenseful page turner' that one reviewer claimed. This was a book full of potential. Seriously, modifying the sperm of a dead husband with the DNA of the Iceman is a cool (no pun intended) premise. A rich businessman, a corrupt research scientist, a grief stricken widow...could you honestly have better bones for a plot?

Yeah. Well, add the subversive Christian message and it somehow falls flat. Honestly, I am a spiritual person. And I do not wish to insult those of faith. I just cannot and will not accept the fact that God plays chess with each of us. I will leave it at that. Yet, I do understand that many people believe that each and every aspect of their lives is part of a greater plan. What I cannot understand is someone telling me that there is only one way to reach God. Using a five year old character to push a religious agenda does not work for me. In fact, it made me rather angry.

Let me leave you with a better book selection. Right now I am reading Loving Frank. Which is where I am headed right now with a cup of steaming tea. Mamah Borthwick Cheney, you and I my dear, would have been the best of friends.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Close Enough

You Should Be a Social Worker

You are deeply caring and empathetic.

You are able to take on other people's problems as if they were your own.

Sensitive and intuitive, you understand human emotions well.

Helping others gives you the most joy in life. You feel like it's your purpose in life.

You do best when you:

- Have a lot of responsibility

- Greatly impact someone's life with your work

You would also be a good philanthropist or stay at home parent.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Joy of Music

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a concert at Holy Angels Church. My co-worker, Rob, is the director of Harmonia Chamber Singers. The acoustics of this church were the perfect compliment to this group's talent. I had almost forgotten that music has the ability to transcend; to make us believe that we are indeed capable of greatness, or that we may be better than we truly are. During the Credo from Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli I almost believed I was in the presence of angel voices. If you live in the Buffalo area, please do yourself the favor and attend their next concert. Their calendar is on their homepage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mean People Suck or Sixth Grade Teachers Can Be Less Mature Than Their Students I was held hostage by my job. Stuffed into a windowless, drafty room for eight hours. Granted, by the end of a rather non-productive day none of us were at our best.

However, is there a syndrome of some sort that makes a rude group/clique/small mob believe they are invisible to the rest of the room? Each time certain individuals spoke at this meeting, this little mob of bullies began rolling their eyes, laughing, making exaggerated, and may I add unflattering, facial contortions. WTF???

It was the first time in my life that I deliberately gave an adult my "teacher/pissed off mommy" look. Apparently that was enough to interrupt this unnamed syndrome and the symptoms abated.

I believe this syndrome is related to another which my husband and I refer to as "State of Oblivion". Persons exhibiting symptoms are simply called "Oblivions". Hey, I never said we were terribly clever at chez Swanson. I am sure you have met these people. No? Just this week I spotted the following:
  • a girl at Wegman's who wanted her sub toasted AFTER it was wrapped and bagged.
  • annoying women with push carts at Kohl's who blocked the aisles with their carts in the shoe department
  • more annoying women at Kohl's weaving down the aisles while their heads were turned sharply in another direction
  • drivers in pricey cars and the right of way coming to complete stops before making right hand turns
  • me, if I continue to add to this list and bore you with this rant:)

You get the idea. If you spot these individuals, remain calm. Shoot them "the look"; you will feel better and they will not notice. Avoid close contact. Although not contagious their actions may be harmful to your personal well being.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Brain Dead?

Since school started, I have been in a funk. After six weeks of school you would think that I would be back in the groove. But I am not. I could blame it on a lot of things: having a student teacher, working with one of the "worst" groups of youngsters to grace our halls in many years, listening to the constant whining from some of my co-workers, listening to the constant whining of my children as they work their way through the first weeks back at high school, sorting out the conflicting messages of the political pundits, attempting to understand the real causes of the Wall Street get the idea.

Whatever the reason(s) the effects are even worse. My reading, which over the summer, was fast, fierce, and fun has become sporadic (to the detriment of my book club obligations). My productive level of knitting is back to its pre-summer trickle. My social life, which I was really making an effort to improve, is starting to wane.

Now, could my reading matter be part of the problem? The Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo was a doorstop of a book. Named after the famous bridge in Venice, this 547 page missive, reminiscent of Empire Falls, takes us through the lives of Lucy (Lou C. Lynch), his best/worst friend Bobby Marconi, and their love, Sara Berg.
The first 300 pages were entertaing, the last 247 were just plain tedious. So stick a fork in it - it's done.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mercy! Uncle!

This week kicked my ass and handed it to me on a platter. It is only the third full week of classes and I say I just cannot do it. It should not feel like December yet. Honestly, I really like my students. And this is the smallest class load I have ever had. So could someone please explain why it feels so damned hard this year?

Anyhoo...I somehow squeezed in two books since school has started: The Secret Scripture and Big Mouth and Ugly Girl. The former is a Man Book Prize winner. Interesting concept, this one. Roseann Clear-McNulty tells her story from the mental hospital she does not call home. She has been a resident of the facility for over 60 years. I had a hard time wrapping my "inner reader's voice" around the author's for the first view chapters, but quickly became engrossed in the story. It switched between the diaries of Roseann the patient and Dr. Gene the psychiatrist. I am sure you will be shocked to hear the good doctor had a problem or two? Roseanne's childhood is a piece of Ireland's history. The ending is a bit predictable once you reach the end of the narrative, but satisfying none the less. Roseann was a victim of her time. The parish priest and his disgust of women, her husband and is lack of faith in his young bride, her shrewish mother -in -law all play a role in her destiny. Well worth the paper it is printed on.

Now, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl was a sheer joy to read. This is Joyce Carol Oates first young adult novel. And it was perfect! It had a totally believable plot, realistic characters, and a plain old feel good ending. If you have any teen readers in your house, send it there way. I was reading this one at school during our Silent Sustained Reading time. Every day at the end of reading I would say, "Wow! I really like this book!" After about 4 days of this, the kids finally started asking if they could read it when I was finished. Sneaky, huh?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Banned Books?

You know that list? The "Palin" list? The list that could not be true if one thought about it for more than one knee jerk second? Well, Erica had a great idea. Go ahead. I'll give you a second, but be sure to come right back.

Got it? Ok, here is my list:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle*
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley*
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson*
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen KingCatch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes*
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding*
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes s
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'HaraNight
Chills by Dean KoontzOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective*
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain*
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier*
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower**
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel*
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee*
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

Green means I read it. Add '*' and I have taught it.

Whenever I read a banned book list, I always wonder how it got there. More often than not it is based on one word, one idea, one small item taken out of context. Last year at our high school, we had a mom on a mission. She wanted to forbid the reading of To Kill a Mockingbird because of the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell by Tom Robinson. Why? Because four of our students were on trial for the rape of a young white teen. She wanted to forbid the reading of Speak. Why? Because the main character was raped at a party. She did not want her son reading The Kite Runner assigned by his Honors English teacher. Why? Because there is a brutal sexual assault in the novel. See a theme here?

The only thing I can say in her defense: she read the books before making her suggestions. How many times have we heard of people wanting to ban a book that they never even held in their own two hands?

Right now I am reading Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates. Maybe that should be on the list. Gee, the main character is contemplating suicide because he was wrongly accused of threatening to bomb the school and his life has gone down the tubes. Or her other book Sexy where a teacher is unjustly accused of 'immoral' acts.

So go ahead. Give me a book that makes me squirm! I have a brain and I am not afraid to use it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You Gotta Read This Book!

Over the weekend I finished reading The Street by Ann Petry. My God!

Did I love it? No, this is not a book one can love. Did I learn? Did I cry? Did I feel outrage, despair, empathy? You bet. This was a novel to be read one chapter at a time. I honestly could not do more than that. Each chapter left me wrung out for the main character, Lutie Johnson.

So let me over simplify:
  • Lutie married for love.
  • He cannot get a job because he is black.
  • They do their best, raising foster children as income until her irresponsible father causes the children to be taken from them.
  • They have a mortgage that must be paid.
  • Lutie goes to work for a wealthy white family in Connecticut; she is away for weeks at a time to save every penny.
  • Her husband finds another woman because Lutie is away supporting them because he cannot find a job.
  • She moves in with her father, studies hard, and gets a low level civil service job.
  • She moves out because her father and his girlfriend are bad influences on Bub, her son.
  • Because she is a single working mother, Bub is forced to spend long hours alone.
  • The crazy building super uses her son to try and win his way into her bed. This sets off a chain of events that leads to nothing but heartache.
  • Junto, a white man who owns everyone and everything, wants her. This sets off a chain of events.

I loved the language. The description of Harlem and its people was vivid. The characters, so simple on the surface, carried layer upon layer to the story. Lutie's story was the constant; Petry interwove the tales of Mrs. Hedges, Bobby Smith, Junto, Min, "Supe", and Bub. Each vignette created a tapestry of Lutie's street. Its poverty, prejudice, and perversion. The frailties of the weak, and the sheer determination of Lutie.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just Sitting on My Ass...

Is it possible to read too much? I finished another book: Now You See Him by Eli Gottlieb. Now, I normally do not like to link to Amazon for my book reviews, but the second reader comment comes closest to my own opinion. I selected this novel from an NPR review (the same as Mudbound). It was hyped as "intelligent" and a "literary page turner". Why do I not note red flags?

A middle aged man, stuck in the complacency of his marriage, his friends, his family - is sunk into the depths of...despair? angst? dysfunctional sex? misplaced loyalty? I cannot say I enjoyed this one. It was an easy read finished in two days without effort, but tiresome. How entertaining is it to read the ramblings of a man confused about his marriage, confronting his elderly parents about their childhood treatment of him, or his memories of childhood twenty years after the fact? There are secrets. Really good secrets. But for me, it just fell flat.

I left the house long enough yesterday to purchase a matching zipper and thread for the vest. Time to bite the bullet and do some sewing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Turning Leaves

Just a quick update on the reading front:

Mudbound by Hillary Jordon was returned to the library yesterday. This one was selected on the basis of the linked NPR review. Although a great premise, it somehow failed. Did she write this piece for the gut wrenching ending? Can an author take you that far just for a predictable reaction?

You know before you read Mudbound, that it cannot end well. Any novel set in the deep South during the 1940's cannot lead to happiness. Add to that a cast of characters who are stereotypical old South and those who have just returned from WWII fresh from the wonders of an "integrated" Europe, you know it will be tragic.

This next one is a MUST read. The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney is by far one of the best novels I have read in ages! Stef Penney is a British screenplay writer well in control of her pen. This novel is a murder mystery set in the Canadian wilderness of the late 1860's. The remote area is still under the control of the Hudson Bay Company, and its outposts play a critical role in the plot. Without over-reaching, Penney writes of the murder of a French trapper and how it affected the lives of so many. Each character has their own story that resulted in their struggles to eek out a life in this barren country. Like Mudbound, it tackles multiple themes and subplots, but Penney handles it in a way that is not contrived, nor forced.

And not only tons of reading, but lots of knitting as well! The KnitPicks slipped stitch vest is finished - I will post a photo once the zipper is in. The entrelac bag is ready for felting. And February Lady is on the needles. I had a false start on Friday, but I finished the yoke yesterday, and have just started the lace section.

And best of all...SmartyMags has Little Girl and Omar back!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Buzz Kills

Have you ever had a really crappy day? You know. The kind where nothing goes right. Allow me to vent:
  1. The contractor finished the bathroom. He did a horrid job. The job that made me decide to hire him was wonderful. Like out of a magazine gorgeous. I cannot explain his sudden lack of skills. He is my daughter's BF's dad. Say no more.
  2. I bought tickets for Wicked. My daughter asked me to buy these tickets. She gave me a list of available dates. I called before ordering to double check they were still good. Yeah, you know what happened as soon as they were ordered.
  3. I stopped at the signal near the busy Wilson Farms. I try to leave the opening to the WF lot open for people coming and going. Four people benefited from my thoughtfulness. The guy behind me with the horn? Not so much.
  4. The retractable awning went haywire. I tried to be responsible and not put off the repair. After calling, hubby informed me it was not broken, just stuck. Call them back and do not let them any where near the house.

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Crying Wolf?

Based the the recent news I have decided that it is best to not become mentally ill and then require physical care. It may also be wise to avoid Hartford, CT. Are we, as a nation, truly becoming desensitized to the world around us?

Check out my bookshelf. I just finished reading Five Skies by Ron Carlson. Three men, all hurting, all at different stages of their lives, bond during a small construction project on a remote section of a ranch in Idaho. One reviewer described it as a "thinking man's novel" and I would agree. The syntax is not "New York Times Bestseller", the characters are round and all experience growth, and the setting and plot are perfectly intertwined. Pick this one up. Who knew men with hammers and big machines were so multi-dimensional;)?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is This Rational?

Every time I see one of these I see RED. WTF kind of ego must one have to enjoy using more than one's share of gasoline, lane space, and parking areas?


Have you noticed they usually drive as though they are on some type of commando mission.

Seriously, what are they thinking?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

10 For Tuesday

10 Things I Hate About Work...
  1. Grading papers: it never ends!
  2. Dealing with drama: ever have to deal with 100 thirteen year olds each day?
  3. Bells: they control everything. Thank God my room is across the hall from the powder room.
  4. Pens: why do kids never seem to have one?
  5. Paper: they never seem to have that either, but oddly enough during locker clean out I was "gifted" about two reams. Go figure.
  6. Bad parents: nothing like letting a kid use your phone to call her mom at the bar at 3:00 in the afternoon.
  7. Helicopter moms: 'nuff said.
  8. Gossip: and I don't mean the kids'.
  9. Finding things: I believe this is directly related to #1. My desk is never empty, put something down and it is lost for the day.
  10. Grading papers: it never ends!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stop Asking Me...

Being a teacher in the month of June means being asked, "How many?" How many what? Pickles in the jar? Buttons in the box? What? Oh, days of school left? Why do people think I am counting the days to summer break? Are all my peers and I just don't know about it? And for crying out loud, stop looking so shocked that I don't know.

It's like this. My final exam is June 23rd. I have a classes to take on July 10, 22, and 24. I have three days of curriculum work in addition to another two days in August for school improvement. Before September begins I will be at school for about a 40 hours prepping for the new year. So what exactly am I counting?

Saturday I started an entrelac felted bag. It's not that I needed a class, but it gives me the push I need to finish the project. So all in all it's worth the money to pay an instructor. I'll save the photo for next week when it actually looks like a bag...I bore myself with UFO shots.

On the bookshelf...I just finished the most adorable book. I LOVE books that have the "transport" switch. Maisie Dobbs was just such a book. Not a challenging piece, but fun. I adored the setting: Post WWI England. I loved the characters. I am thrilled it is part of a series and know that it will provide hours of happy reading in the near future. And better yet, I know someone who owns the whole series!

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Our mini summer has retreated and the weather is back to normal for this time of year. Back to shivering at Lacrosse games and sprinting to the car. Oh well...

But today was a good day. My friend's daughter became Bat Mitzvah today. Have I told you I love that ceremony? It is such a happy time! I am always impressed by the work that goes into each child's journey to religious adulthood. I love hearing how each youngster connects the early writings of their faith to the world in which they live today proving that the words are alive and well. I love being inspired by the faith of young adult. I always hope that this day is one that they can look back on to guide them later in life.

Sitting in temple this morning was a good feeling. I have spent the last two weeks in school on the writings of the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel, Gerda Weissman Klein, and of course, Anne Frank. Normally, I go through this unit quickly. The students have generally finished the same unit of study in Social Studies and so they have a basic understanding of the period. They dutifully read the memoir excerpts and move on. But this year has been different. This year they have been listening. This year they have been feeling. And most importantly asking.

But not necessarily what you would think.

This year the question has been, "Is this real?" Not that they are questioning the authenticity of the event. But rather disbelief that such a thing was real. Is real. And what would they do? What if they were the targets? Would they help? Would they be strong enough? Brave enough? Resourceful enough?

This group. They make me feel better.

They make me proud.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring Break

I just added another item to the bookshelf. Part of the big "purge" is to read the the borrowed books and return them to their rightful owners. E.L. Doctorow's The March, is one of those. I normally am not drawn to Civil War titles, but this one was very unique. Doctorow's style is very different.

The story of Sherman's march north is told through the eyes of its victims on both sides. Little vignettes are developed. There is the relationship between Confederate belle, Emily Thompson and the German born Union surgeon, Wrede Satorious. Young Pearl and her "stepma'm/owner" Mattie. Will and Arly who jump from side to side trying to make it out alive. The devastation of this war always saddens me. And the sheer scope of this presentation did little to make the reader feel any hope. We all know how it ends, but Doctorow does a stellar job of making you feel the immense hopelessness of those caught in this point in time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Crush

I admit it. I am in love with Ian McEwan. Every word that he puts on paper I adore. This book is a treasure. One that I need to re-read as I found myself rushing in anticipation, forcing myself to slow down, to go back. On Chesil Beach is a gem. Read the times review - much more eloquent. Talk to me McEwan.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

City Lights

I never and I mean never seem to make it into the city proper. Yet somehow this weekend I managed to get within the city limits three times in as many days. Friday was rather interesting. Fund-raisers are not really my thing, but a friend invited me to attend the Aurora Waldorf's Artist's Evening held at the 20th Century Club. Formed around 1895, it is the female version of The Buffalo Club. It is amazing to walk into a building that my family would never have been allowed to join. I am sure that the closest my Roman Catholic Polish and Italian ancestors would have gotten to those rooms was with a broom and a dust pan.

Saturday was fun day! Husband and I took the boy and two friends to the game. And we won! But of course after just one beer my resolve to not snack went out the window and we hit Duff's for some wings and fries. I cannot believe that in our attempt to clog our arteries we forgot to order the gravy! DH and I both paid for the three (!) wings we ate with wicked heart burn all night. We have indeed become middle aged wimps. So sad.

Continuing my not a resolution resolution, I spent more time with family and friends. Breakfast with my sister, and then the afternoon on the deck of my friends house in North Buffalo. To sit in the sun and unravel an entire sweater that has been a "dog" on the needles for the last four years was heaven. I think I have a good project lined up thanks to Ravelry for this Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Wool. Something a better suited than the locally designed sweater that just was not singing to me.

Monday beckons...who invented work anyway?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Add a Little Spring to Your Needles

I finally got around to checking out the spring issue of Knitty. Finally, something I want to knit. Based on the fact that the last issue of IK left me so uninspired, I was keeping my fingers crossed. Honeycomb is perfect! I have been searching for a vest pattern with just this look for ages. And better yet, I believe I have just the right yarn hiding out in my stash. I absolutely love the scoop neck, narrow shoulder, and stretch.

My next pick is Yosemite. Again, stretchy fabric, clean lines. And love the collar! I have not really checked out the yarn specks, but I am thinking that the coral Catania I have been swatching for the last two summers may fit the bill.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bits and Bobs

Have you read this one? Can you guess?
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a lengthy, ambitious novel of 12th century England. The story chronicles the lives of power seeking church officials, humble people seeking love and happiness, and a host of other characters over the span of several decades. I have not become so engrossed in the lives of fictitious characters in many, many years. Well work each and every page!

The rigid heddle loom has been dusted off with the help of Mags:) Thanks, without your prompting it would still be in its lonely little time out corner:(

We warped last weekend for a set of place mats. As we were cleaning up what did I spy in the bottom of the bag? The second color that was intended for the warp. Can you say dumb ass?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Desert Island Reading

Mags says do this:

  • Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Now I am torn...these first three were easy. Freckles was a story that I read and re-read as a young teen. That and A Girl from the Limberlost were two books that created a world that I could enter so easily. I have not read them in years, and do fear they may not hold the same appeal. At this time I was also fascinated with the works of Myrtle Reed.

To Kill a Mockingbird was my first taste of southern literature. Each and every time I read it, I walk down those dusty streets of Maycomb. And the structure of the piece! Read that and Fried Green Tomatoes and I crave greens, corn bread, and pot liquor...and salt on my watermelon!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was read during a week off. I remember vividly not wanting it to end - reading slower and slower to delay the inevitable.

Sorry, Mags, fear of commitment makes me stop my list here.

Yet, these are the books that I would then choose the last two from....maybe....

  • Atonement
  • The Namesake
  • Jane Eyre
  • Song of Solomon
  • The Pilot's Wife
  • The World According to Garp
  • My Antonia
  • Harry Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nuno, Nuno

The Weaver's Guild of Buffalo offers day workshops that I am never able to attend. Because we are currently on "winter break", I was finally able to attend a day workshop. Yesterday two of our guild members offered a workshop on Nuno felting...

Step 1:
Choose a piece of open natural fiber. The open weave allows the roving to migrate through the fabric allowing it to adhere. We used silk, the most common choice. Place the silk on a piece of plastic. We used pieces of solar pool cover, but shelf liner, bubble wrap, or plastic table clothes are also acceptable choices.

Step 2:
Layer the roving on the fabric. Think BOLD. Think abstract. All those little bits and bobs I used resulted in something that was not my intention. Our awesome instructors, Linda and Katie, recommend that I add more roving; I was leaving far too much white space on the design. But did I listen?

Step 3:
Wet the entire piece with hot soapy water. Check the saturation of the piece by either placing a large sheet of plastic on top and pushing gently, or checking after your first few minutes into the felting process.

Step 4:
Rolling, rolling, rolling... We rolled the pool cover, silk, and roving around a piece of pipe insulation cover. You could also use PVC pipe as well. Roll it tightly and secure with ties.

Step 4:
Keep rolling. After every 10 minutes or so, unroll your work and check the progress. Be gentle. Each time you move a piece of wool off the silk, you are back to square one on that section. Re-roll from the opposite end.

Step 5:
Once the roving has felted to the silk, move on to the step I call "Aggression Therapy". Gather it into a ball, re-wet with HOT soapy water, and SLAM it for about 5 minutes into a basin. The slamming will continue the felting process and speed up all those cool wrinkles.

This is my NOT final project. At present, it reminds me of what happens when the dog eats the crayons and can't keep them down. See all that white space? Not good. I will eventually dye the piece to balance it out.

Thank goodness for the professionals!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Taking the Chill Off

KnitPicks Slipped Cable Vest and Ella Rae Yarn is turning into a very fun and fast knit! And how cool is it to be able to download patterns for only $1.29? No shipping, no paper...very eco friendly.

I was feeling so green I decided to give these a try...

No kidding folks, this stuff rocks. I have tried many of the other "green" products,but this does the trick without the extra elbow grease.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fleece Study

These are the two Dorset samples I processed ages ago. My only concern, I may have labeled incorrectly. The sample on the left was lovely to spin and even nicer to ply. I navajoe plied, was a bit worried, but once it hit the water so pretty! Unfortunately, it is a bit scratchy.

The Polled Dorset has no fine qualities. It was easy to spin but very rough. It is probably best suited for making something that requires a durable fabric. Oddly enough for the length of the staple it was very elastic when fresh from the bobbin.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Silent Poetry Reading

Read all about it here.

My contribution....

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Sara Teasdale

Today was a huge PURGE coup. After two, count 'em two years of harrassing, I fianlly got my husband to go through the closet and get rid of the never worn and never gonna fit into them again clothes. There were pants on the hangers with enough dust to build a small child from our childhood mythology a home. Seriously, it drives me insane when anyone holds onto something only because they are too lazy to get it out. Belongings stuffed in boxes, hidden in attics and crawl spaces, forgotten and neglected.....a total WASTE!

"It may come back in style."
Maybe, but if it does the original will always look a bit off. And you know the old saying, "If you were old enough the first time around, you are too old for it now."

"You never know when you will need it."
Maybe, but you will either forget you own it or by the time you remember where you put it, someone else in the house will have figured out a different solution.

"I paid a lot of money for that."
I am sure you did. But having it sit unused is no different than not having it at all. It it growing in value in your basement? Are you taking a vacation on the dividends it is earning under your bathroom sink?

"I am leaving it as an inheritance for my kids."
Yes, in their grief your children will be filled with joy and fond memories as they are now forced to go through the contents of countless boxes. They will happy that you have given them the task of sorting, labeling, and deperately trying to find someone who can accurately assess the value of the childhood Tonka, Mattel, and Fisher Price pieces. This, as they are trying to sell and settle everything else left behind. Yes, a pleasure to be sure. And if your children really need the money that these items will bring, you would have done them a favor by settling things earlier to keep it out of the estate.

Ah, I shall dance all the way to the donation box with these bags!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Winter Wonder Land...

Yes, it is pretty. But then again anything looks nice after being 'locked' in a windowless room for two days while scoring NYS ELA Assessments!

Don't be deceived, the only thing holding the snow so gracefully on those that tree is the fine coat of ice. Today has been one of those days that has only confirmed the fact that winters are not what they used to be. For the last few years freezing rain and sleet are a weather event. Add to that the freakishly high winds, thunder and lightning during snow storms, and I start to shake.

Wondering how I have been doing with my "Not a Resolution" resolution? Well...purged are the son's old shirts which have been donated to the clothes closet at work, finished (almost) is the wool hat, fixed is the carpet and an appointment scheduled for the shower, create...out to dinner with the family and A's 19th birthday party planned:)


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not a Resolution

So here's the deal. Winter. No sun. Lots of cold. No snow.

This means I am spending waaaaaaaay too much time indoors and noticing everything that is "wrong" with my house. I am busy doing nothing. Nothing but bitchin' and snarkin'. So in an attempt to organize and motivate this is my list.
  1. PURGE...get rid of anything in the house that serves no purpose. If it is not worn, used, or enjoyed in some way, it MUST go.
  2. FINISH...finish any project that has been abandoned. This will range from the numerous UFOs in the knitting room to the unpainted ceiling in the kid's bath. If it something that is not worth the trouble of or beyond my skills to finish, out it goes. I believe the knitting guild will be very grateful for all the yarn and pattern books they will receive for the auction this year.
  3. FIX...fix all things that have been ignored from a few days to several years. This covers the master bath shower to the unusable antique spinning wheel in the corner. If it cannot be fixed, it will be purged.
  4. CREATE...move in a deliberate fashion to create an environment that is fulfilling. Focus on friends, enjoy my family, dance in public, sing along to the musak in the grocery store. Eat more whole foods, walk more, smile more.

I think this is a doable list. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


What would you suggest one do to a husband who put his spankin' brand new Alpaca Christmas socks in the laundry bin to be sent through the washer and dryer?