Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving recap - Take 1

Mr W and I got back late yesterday evening from visiting family in Ohio. It was a mixed bag, and I have enough thoughts to make a couple of posts out of it. The kid traveled like an absolute champ, being helpful hauling luggage and looking for information on signs, and bravely facing his fear of flying, which I think he has conquered.

It was really, really nice to see my family. I hope to host a summer gathering for my brothers and their families here in CO.

I succeeded in getting some pictures of my mom digitized, and borrowed a few in case I need to rescan them. I visited the cemetery, where both my mom and my sister are buried, and paid my respects. I took pictures of their grave markers too, which feels a little strange but I'm glad I did it.

Thanksgiving itself was the usual debauchery, and I ended up a bit hungover the next day. To show how out of practice I am at this sort of thing anymore, I was into my third or fourth glass of wine when the thought occurred to me, "if I keep going, I'm going to be hungover tomorrow". Too late. It's such good motivation to not do that again any time soon.

I had some great pictures of the family, and one in particular of my sisters in law and myself I was looking forward to printing out. Mr W was trying to take some pictures and erased everything off the card - darn!

So, more later on family and gathering.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chopping carrots

I've just been enlisted to chop carrots for the scalloped carrots, so this will be brief. Mr W and I arrived in Ohio without incident yesterday, and it's been great to see folks so far. We're expecting my brother and his family any time now, and my sister in law will be here this evening.

I went to the grocery store with my other brother this morning, and we bought a cart and a half of stuff. About 25 people are expected tomorrow, my sister's husband's family and then my brothers and dad. Life is good.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I think so

I think I'm ready to go to Ohio tomorrow. It was more of a challenge to fit our stuff into two small suitcases than I thought, but we'll do laundry after a couple of days there. Mr W is both excited and scared to get on a plane. Thankfully, he's come to terms with it, and is more of the mindset of "well, I don't have to like it, but I'm looking forward to being at the destination".

And I feel a bit of retrospection coming on with the holiday and all, so there will likely be a post or two about that. I've also got some plans for my garden next year that are starting to form (such a bummer that it's only November....). Looking back and looking forward. Does that make me firmly rooted in the present? It never seems that easy.

The day before

I'm sitting in my usual comfy spot, on the couch with my feet up. I've got my list of last things to do before Mr W and I fly to Ohio tomorrow, and it's not too long. Looks like we will be able to fit everything into the two carry on suitcases, and we'll each carry a backpack.

I downloaded a few episodes of TV shows Mr W likes to watch onto my iPod. You'd think watching anything on the little Nano screen would be uncomfortable. Not so. The clarity is so good that the picture is quite good.

Hmm...Slippers, or no slippers? I think we can squeeze them in, so I'll try. I need to take Sally to the kennel this morning. We could do it after work, but the cost is the same, so I might as well make our evening a little smoother by taking her in first thing. I think I'm going to get her evaluated for work as a therapy dog after the new year (or after the semester is over, anyway). I think she's got potential.

I'm of course looking forward to seeing everyone. I was in church yesterday, and the minister was talking about Thanksgiving family dynamics - we love to see our families in small doses - and I think mine is at the upper end of family tolerability. It will still be hard to stay in my sister's house without her there, but I need to do it at some point. I'll go out to the cemetery as well, bring some flowers. Note to self: put Kleenex on that list.

And one last thing happened yesterday that I wanted to note. I was talking to an old friend who lives in Denver, and after getting caught up, she asked me what I was doing for Christmas. She invited me to come to their house for the afternoon, and I was so touched. You know how when you're not expecting anything, and then someone offers you something nice? It was like that. So I will go and eat pirogis and homemade kielbasa, and try to keep my expectations at a level where I can be pleasantly surprised as often as possible. Life is good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Toot toot

OK, I'm going to toot my kid's horn a bit, but this post isn't really about that. Each month, Mr W's school has an assembly and each teacher honors kids who demonstrate IB principles. IB stands for International Baccalaureate, and the program "focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside." I like their emphasis on the fact that we are part of a larger world in lots of different ways.

Mr W received an award for demonstrating Knowledge and Curiosity, and I was able to come over for the assembly, so I did. As I gushed with pride that my kid was up there, I realized in horror (well, in small way) that his clothes are too small - both tops and bottoms. Time to get to the consignment store...

But what really struck me was when they walked in. Each class was filing in, and I'm looking to catch his eye. His class starts in, I see him, and instead of his face lighting up when he saw me, it was filled with, filled, nothing, really, that I could see. I was a little taken aback until I realized that this is actually a good thing.

It's OK that he expects one or both of his parents to attend these events for him. The fact that he doesn't know the disappointment of not seeing his parent in the crowd is OK with me, and one of those things that will pay off when he's older and is comparing childhood experiences with someone else and says, "yeah, my mom or dad came to all my stuff".

Friday, November 20, 2009

Way back when

I went to our local Barnes and Noble yesterday to pick up some things for Mr W to read and do while we travel to Ohio next week. I paid way too much for a couple of graphic novels I think he'll like, and got a couple of activity books. Remember Mad Libs? I think he's at the right age where he'll think they're hilarious.

As I wandered through the children's section, I walked past their toy train table, and was transported back to a time when Mr W was about 2-3 years old, and LOVED Thomas the Tank Engine. I was fairly certain at the time that I knew the location of every store in town that had a train table, and we'd often go and spend an hour at one of these places.

There were a couple of little kids around the train table last night, and their adoring families were sitting close by, being encouraging. It really was the very same thing I remember doing. Since there are several trains on the table, parents see this as a great opportunity for kids to get used to the concept of sharing. It is, certainly, but I laughed at the memory that they sure as hell don't want to share at that age!

It seemed like long time ago, juggling school and raising a young child with the x. This is evident in the stuff we are packing for the Ohio trip. As recently as our trip a couple of years ago, I devoted half a suitcase to carrying toys. Now, he's got his Nintendo DS, and we'll have a few books and travel games. The plan is to pack light and carry it all in carry-ons. We have to change planes coming and going, and I want to have all our stuff with us in case the schedule goes awry. Moving forward.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A 16' ladder as a symbol of independence

If you were to look at the north side of my house right now, you'd see that I started to paint the trim. I started this project back in the spring. I picked a nice combination of a reddish brown and a warm tan out of a paint sample brochure and the two shades do look nice together.

However, you'd notice right away that the paint job stops about 7' off the ground. Yup, that's as high as I could get with my 4' step ladder. My neighbor (the same one who trimmed my trees the other day) offered the use of their 16' ladder, but I've never taken them up on it. I'm not sure why, but it probably has something to do with doing things for myself.

It probably also has something to do with how busy I've been teaching this class, but it's also true that for the last couple of years I didn't want to put too much money into this house because I didn't know how long I'd live here. Well, the answer to that question has changed to "for the foreseeable future" so now I'm starting to think about things I'd like to do and have for the place.

Somehow, the purchase of a 16 foot ladder is becoming symbolic both of me realizing I don't want to move any time soon, and also of trying to do things for myself. I have an old friend who is establishing a homestead in upstate NY (hers is the Blueberry Hills Homestead blog in my blog list and she posts often), and she turned me on to a few other blogs written by women who are doing that sort of thing by choice. I can't say my situation is just like that, but it looks like I could learn a thing or two here.

So, I'll be pricing ladders over the new few weeks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday goodies

It is so soup weather out there. Last night it went down to 20. Here's a picture of my default soup, chicken noodle. Nothing fancy, it's got onions, carrots and celery, noodles and chicken. I've taken to seasoning things with Penzey's dried Buttermilk Ranch salad dressing mix. A tablespoon of that stuff and it's quite yummy.
I also was overtaken by a desire for lemon squares. Dunno, I've never made lemon squares, but for some reason it sounded good. And they are also yummy, although next time I'll put more lemon juice in there. They are surprisingly easy, and I got my recipe from here. I do like both the lemon stuff and the crust together, but I could also just eat the crust, which is made from flour, powdered sugar and butter (wow).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Scratch these off the list

Do you ever have a flurry of activity when you get a bunch of stuff done? Here's my Sunday morning so far:

1. Feed and visit with the neighbors' cat
2. Shovel my walk and the neighbors' (who are out of town)
3. Fold laundry
4. Sweep basement floor
5. Block two wool sweaters (not knit by me) to get them to fit better
6. Threw away an old pheasant tail given as a gift to Mr W (ick)
7. Put away the Halloween lights
8. Started cuttings of some house plants
9. Changed my windshield wiper blades (huzzah!)

Now it's off to work for a few hours and then home to work on school stuff for a few hours. I'm very much looking forward to getting this semester in the bag and then being able to take advantage of the fact that I've done everything once.

From Today's PostSecret

You never know where you will find inspiration, I guess.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Sometimes the shoe universe smiles upon us and we can't help but just be grateful. Mr W and I were shopping at the thrift store to get a shirt for him to wear in his school play (he did fab - nailed his line and got a laugh - yea!) and I wandered over to the shoe area and saw these:
Now, you may think these are too close to being like circus shoes, or they may otherwise not be your thing. But I loves me these shoes. They're Danksos and practically brand new. Many pairs of shoes at the thrift stores have seen many better days.

I have to wear thick socks with these because they are a tad big, but it's winter, so it's OK. I think one of the reasons I like them so much is because I wouldn't splurge and spend the $85 that these shoes likely cost, and these became mine for a mere $7.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Kitchnered like a Rock Star

I like knitting socks. They are the ultimate compact knitting project. You can justify splurging on expensive-ish yarn because you don't need all that much. There are tons of patterns to choose from, and once you have your method down, they aren't technically difficult to make.

Two main schools of sock making have them made from either the toe up or the cuff down. I learned cuff-down, and have been trying to teach myself toe up. I admit I've gotten kind of bogged down with the toe-up world, and will likely rip out the second sock (shown here on the left in green) of a pair that has been languishing for months and do a cuff down.

Socks are usually knit on really small (like 2-3 mm) needles, and with a fine guage of yarn. That gives a nice look and small stitches. For these big reds, I used a 6 mm needle (comparatively huge) and the next step up in yarn width, sport weight. Wow, combine those two and this thing practically knit itself.

But, I'd like to draw your attention to my Kitchnering. At the end of the sock, at the toe, the two sides need to be grafted together to close up the tube of knitting. The Kitchner stitch is a way to sew a knit stitch with a tapestry needle that closes the tube and looks like knitting. I almost always screw this part up, which is sort of a heartbreak when it's the last thing to do on a sock and it's hard to rip it out and go again.

So here are photos of the best Kitchnering I've ever done. I looked at the instructions, tried something a little different and it worked nicely.

Now, we'll see if the second sock gets made - maybe over Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Low spot

I recently ended my relationship with CB, and I've been melancholy ever since. I know it was the right decision, but owing to how his personality isn't to blame, and what I potentially gave up, well, it's just going to take some time to feel better.

We met online, on a site for science-y types, and from the beginning we were 900 miles apart. We talked on the phone, sometimes for hours, and exchanged emails. About five or six weeks into it, he asked if I would fly out to meet him, and then we'd drive the eight hours to Los Angeles for a concert he had tickets to. Even though I've told this story several times, it still looks like I took this huge chance with this person I met online. I never felt any red flags come up and we had a great time. Nothing like spending eight hours in a car to begin to spend time together!

Since he travels for a living and is on the road for two or three weeks at a time every three or four weeks or so, we settled into a routine of me flying out there for a few days every 5 weeks or so. Sometimes we'd have to wait longer, and I remember the first summer we were dating I waited an excruciating 7 weeks while he went to Alaska, and then to Nova Scotia, and then I had to travel for my work. A big concern for me for the first year or so was that he'd determine that it wasn't worth the trouble, and would decide to end it. But he didn't.

We went to California twice to go whale watching, and I looked forward to the opportunity to travel with him while he was working. He leads bird watching tours and that would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, the money was never there, and I spent all of my vacation time on our monthly visits.

I will miss my time with him. We started dating a couple of years after I was divorced, but I was still, in retrospect, feeling the effects of having been married for 15 years and having the rug pulled out from under me. To be with someone who accepts and appreciates you for who you are is a rare and wonderful thing indeed.

I'm looking forward to doing more in my community, maybe getting some work done on the house and have decided I'll teach again next semester. I've missed talks with my sister acutely during this time, and it's been odd and sad not to have her counsel.

Thanks, CB. Our time together changed me for the better.

Saturday, November 7, 2009