Monday, December 31, 2007

Naughty Knotty Pine, and What I Hope to Do in 2008

If you're ever bored, Google "painting knotty pine paneling". I'll bet, heretofore, you had no idea there were such strong opinions about what to do with the paneling in strangers' homes. But there are, and people aren't afraid to voice 'em.

I'm ashamed to say that I let all that controversy influence me for years. I wanted to paint our family room, but "people" said that was a terrible idea, it was a treasure to be savored, I'd hate it, etc.

And so, in large part because of the indecisiveness, we let our family room become The Room to Avoid. It was the homeschool room for a while, but it slowly got ickier and creepier (see scary ghouls, right) and we moved the TV out and then it was, as the TP called it, Gollum's Computer Cave and the place that only brave people who couldn't get time on Mom's laptop went. We couldn't even let guests stay there anymore. Ew.

Wednesday morning (day after Christmas), we pulled everything out, went to the dump twice and got rid of a bunch of trashed furniture by pulling it out on the street as freebies. Spouse got a lovely case of hives from something in the dust bunnies. I spent $156 on paint and supplies and spent not two, not three, but four twelve hour days patching, prepping, priming and painting the walls. I painted them green, of all things, and there was instant and unanimous agreement that this was an enormous mistake. So I REPAINTED them (two coats) Muslin, which turned out to be perfect.

Really perfect. I'm astonished at how wonderful the room looks. Painting knotty pine paneling that you hate is a GREAT IDEA.

Today was IKEA day, where we spent an incredible amount of money on what seemed like nothing, and then spent an incredible amount of time setting the nothing up. But now it's mostly done.

And that is what I did with my winter vacation. No art yet, and all the boxes haven't been unpacked, but overall we're happy. We're going to do a family savings plan for a 37" flat screen and a sofa, and life will be good. We will be People With a Family Room.

And I have some Joel Dewberry quilty plans, but I have to get a fat quarter pack to see if the colors work. Stay tuned.

2008 resolutions:

I have, since early November, lost 8 pounds and gotten to the point where I can run (heh, "trundle" is a better word) aaaaaaaaalmost three miles on the street and a bit over three on the treadmill. So the first resolution is to keep up the good work on my health.

Get in to a master's program ranks second.

Then there's "try not to be a shrew to my family, friends and co-workers when I'm suffering from perimenopausal meltdowns". The exercise is helping some. I think. If not, well, sorry...I really am trying.

Make, oh...five quilts this year? Is that reasonable? Maybe if I have someone else longarm them. I want to make one for our bed, and a one for the new family room sofa that we get. My sister is lobbying for one. I can do that.

I'm thinking that's really enough. I feel a little faint just thinking about all that effort.

Happy 2008 to all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Things What I Knitted

Christmas gift truths can finally be revealed. But first, photos from our now annual stealth Christmas Eve Santa hat defacing of neighborhood lawn ornaments.

The cashermino Fetching and wool Made It Up to Fit JMan mitts delivered in person all seemed to be a hit, all were immediately donned and worn for the rest of the evening (OK, so our chilly house probably helped with that). The (here unblocked) socks for Spouse were proclaimed to be quite nice despite the fact that they were not made with sock yarn, something I swore I'd never do (the yarn place in Iowa didn't have sock yarn I liked, and I had to knit SOMEthing for him while I was stuck in the snow).

But he wrote me a poem despite the sport weight, and all's well that ends well.

In the words of Clement C. Moore, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Monday, December 24, 2007


All that's left is stitching in the ends on 3 pairs of mitts, 1 pair of socks and finishing up one hat. Now if I could just find my yarn needles...

Here's how things look around here. Hope your tomorrow is peaceful and happy.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I'm fortunate to work in the hematology and oncology department of a pediatric hospital. My 18 months there has substantially changed my perspective on life. I'm way more into gratitude, I have let go of a lot of prejudice and subtle racism I once carried, I understand a lot more about the wonder that is human life.

I'm fortunate to work there in a time when the vast majority of kids we see get well or live healthy well into adulthood. So when we have a day like yesterday, it stands in stark contrast to the everyday experience.

Yesterday our oncology doctors had to tell an adolescent and his family that there was no hope. Worse, it was a sudden and unexpected diagnosis, not one that could be anticipated in any way by anyone. It was an awful morning, the drama playing out in the office next door to mine, every word heard, every tear felt, every curse echoed. It was the rawest display of pain I have ever witnessed, and despite my now practiced detachment at work, I could not stay apart from it. I could not help but feel a small part of their pain, and cried many tears, as did many of the staff present.

I'm fortunate. I got to come home and hug my healthy children, knit on a glove for one, take a child to sports practice and pick another up from music. And I slept well. I know that family had none of those blessings, and there but for the grace of God...

Count your blessings this holiday season. Don't worry about that unpurchased gift for the postman or neighbor, or whether the turkey will be done on time. Don't fret about getting the cards out. Just tell someone who wants to hear it that you love him, thank someone for something kind she's done for you. And offer a prayer of thanks to whomever you please for all the bounty that is yours.

Friday, December 14, 2007


It's no secret to those who know me well that sleep tops my list of favorite things. My nickname in college was CinderSue, as I never saw midnight. Sleep is insanely wonderful. I have no adequate words to describe it beyond that.

Over the years my sleep has been interrupted by pregnancy hormones and discomforts, babies and toddlers and big kids in bed, pets in bed, earthquakes, car accidents in front of our house, helicopters over our house, too much cold, too much hot, sleepless wandering kids, sleepless wandering teen, teen home late, phone calls about sick relatives, broken pipes, smoke alarms. But more than anything else over the last few years, it's been interrupted by snoring. I won't say whose. But there it is. It has become a constant in my world, to be awakened several times each night, poke the offender, pull the pillow over my head, curse under my breath.

This week I said aloud that it might be time for me to move to another room, and a certain person was convinced to try Breathe Right strips.

Oh. My. God.

I now sleep like I am 5 years old again. This is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I need nothing else from the universe. Gratitude, thy name is suzee.

If snoring is an issue in your life, I cannot recommend these things highly enough. The snorer will also be a happy, happy camper, as his/her sleep will be vastly improved, too. Check 'em out.

In other news: I have finished Christmas shopping and am down to just the making. I hope to have a sewing marathon this Sunday and another next weekend. Knitting is almost finished except for one pair of mitts and the last 20 rows or so on a hat. Whee! Photos soon. Tree goes up tomorrow!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Snow Laughing Matter

Dropped in on my grandma this week, in lovely Eastern Iowa. I was a little leery of coming in December 2007, as the state is 4 inches deep in presidential candidates and their leavings, but it turned out the weather trumped the politicos in the news and on the ground. For my part, I have been stranded (just for an hour) in Omaha while we waited for the Des Moines airport to plow, then in Des Moines (for 15 hours) while they cleared Hwy 80, and now (happily) in Cedar Rapids for an extra 24 hours while the second storm dumps its load on us.

Go here to see what everything looks like about now. It's just breathtaking. Inside: visually breathtaking. Outside: physically so. It was like, seriously, 8 degrees when I headed back to my hotel tonight.

Fortunately, it didn't cost much to change the plane reservation, extend the car rental and keep the hotel, and how often do Californians get to call in for a snow day off from work? My Neena and I are having a fine time: we decorated for Christmas, solved some problems around the apartment, and today we even baked cookies together. We realized in the baking that it was the first time I'd ever baked cookies with my grandma, but at 46 it's apparently not too late!

The biggest disaster of the trip: I was hoping to make these (sans the leaves and vines) for the men in my life, but left the bag filled with needles and lovely Rowan yarn by the front door on my way to the airport (thanks for the ride, Mom!). Cedar Rapids is terribly short on yarn shops, but Marion pulled it out with Hearthstone Gifts and Crafts (where I bought, incredibly, my THIRD set of size 6 dpns...they seem to be the ones I leave behind). So I am making these socks for spouse, and hope to still be able to pull off the mitts for JMan by the big day.

Snow kicks the whole knitting drive into high gear.