Saturday, January 26, 2008

Craft-Free Zone

It's been a week in which I do lots of Mom With a Job things. I'm the first to admit that WOH moms have it much easier than SAH moms in many of the most important ways. I did 9 years of SAH, and it's no cakewalk.

But still, having an employer at the same time you have kids at home? It's really living two lives in the same time frame some days. "Mom - it's a half day today, I forgot to tell you. Can you pick me up at 12:30?" "Your attendance is required at an emergency staff meeting at noon today." "Mom - parent/teacher conference at 10:00am on Tuesday...they had to change it from Thursday afternoon." "Um, sorry I can't keep the appointment you moved 6 other things to create for me...can we move it to Tuesday at 10:00?"

So I finally hunkered down to stitch a little last night, cozy in front of fire and telly. Tragically for my crafting, the choice was What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Holy moley! What a spectacular movie. Eight thumbs up here. Not for the very youngest viewers, but everyone 11 and up loved it. No sex, no violence, although a few dark and intense scenes. Incredible breakout performances by Leo DiCaprio as a developmentally delayed teen, and Johnny Depp as Gilbert, a young man coming of age in a difficult situation.

So no stitching, I was paying attention...

Today the list of errands and chores and butt-busting antics at the gym is so long I won't bore you. Tomorrow we drive for frisbee. Monday, back to the grind.

Wasn't I supposed to have a LIFE when I grew up?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Always Check the Gym Bag

'Cause doesn't everyone put her camera cable in her gym bag?

Apparently, embroidery is like riding a bike. You learn how to do it in elementary school, and the skill stays latent in your brain until death or until needed, whichever comes first.

Just as soon as I started looking at embroidered fun things, I remembered how to do backstitches and chain stitches and blanket stitches and the idea behind French knots (had to look at the most excellent YouTube video to really remember those). And now I can't stop.

Some photos of coasters done (click on it for the up-close version of my nearly-perfect French knots...I have never "squee!!!'d" before, but I was sorely tempted upon completion of my first set), WIPs and a canvas for future coasters. All are upholstery/home dec fabrics I bought at a sample sale from an absurdly expensive studio a few years ago, so wonderful hand/sheen/everything fabrics. I only have about a half yard of everything, so they're perfect for fussy!

I have always had a love/hate relationship with this last fabric. It's just so eccentric, and yet it's the kind of thing that turns me to mush in a fabric store . It looks like it belongs in a Castro Street bordello, doesn't it? But the purple, with the yellow? And it's a very high thread count cotton, so nice sheen. Yummy yum.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oh, fer the love o' Mike...

I finally have something to show off, and I cannot find the camera cable to save my life.

I have become coaster obsessed. I've used some really cool stash fabric I never thought I'd find a use for. And I've re-learned embroidery (last time I visited it was fourth grade summer school), all in one cozy afternoon in the sewing shed.

Poo. I'll keep looking.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I am the big sister. I will admit here and now to being the kind of kid who did some mean things to her little sister. One of the most unreasonable things I did was to be outraged, incensed when she would do things because I was doing them.

For instance, I distinctly remembering her ordering spaghetti at a restaurant right after I had placed my order. Total copycat. And wanting a lemon Tootsie Pop, I swear, just because I picked lemon. As if.

Revenge is mine with this post.

First, let me say that I will never ever run a marathon, or even a half marathon. Some day, if I work really hard, I might manage a 10K. That marathony kind of drive is just not in me. She is a monster (in that good way that people say it), and I totally admire her tenacity, strength and purposefulness. She is a fitness goddess in my eyes.

But this week after four months of slowly working up to it, I can write about running in my blog.

Today I managed 40 minutes on the street, listening to my iPod (it was the first time I'd dared tackle the iPod on a street run...I'm not sure what I was afraid of). I even picked the pace up during American Idiot and managed to pass someone. My old lady cackle as I edged by probably frightened the poor woman to death.

In addition, a doctor check-in for my shoulder this week (it's improving slowly) revealed that I have lost, count 'em, 12 pounds since Halloween and dropped my resting heart rate to 55. This was good news, the kind of thing that puts a spring in your step for the rest of the day.

This was my third straight run day (two treadmill days preceded this) and I am dog tired tonight. Tomorrow I will start on Amy's coaster swap and take a day of rest. And then I move on to knitting with polypro yarn, which will relate to running again, but will at least have pictures.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Glamorous Life

I remember when I had littles at home, and dreamed of them being grown up and myself doing something grown up, something cool with my days. I imagined myself as an interesting, poised, intelligent person, saying interesting, poised, intelligent things.

And yesterday was nice that way...I was invited, me!, to come to a steering committee meeting in Washington in early March to talk about a project I'm working on. Very cool. Not sure if the budget gurus at work will let me go, but nice to be asked. And it felt, you know? Like I was an interesting, poised, etc.

Today? Another story.

I got up early, ready to get the kids to school early and hit the gym for a long run on the treadmill before work. Today was my day to up the speed. And I did. Just under 6 mph for 20 minutes out of a planned 40. I was kickin' butt and takin' names.

And then? Something extremely embarrassing happened. I did NOT fall off the treadmill (my secret fear), but I did suffer the slings and arrows of modern, active perimenopausal women, wearing light colored yoga pants. Yeah, that. Apparently, now that I've looked it up at WebMD, about 1/3 of active women of all ages and a very high percentage of women my age who have had babies have the problem, so I don't feel too bad. And I have some suggestions for how to avoid it in the future (not the least: get dark pants).

So, OK. I can recover. I am nothing if not poised. I throw my hoodie around my waist and go down to the showers. 'K. Except...jeez. I forgot a hairbrush, gel, and my whole makeup bag at home this morning. Yeah, no pro, I'll just dry off and head home before work...

Except...jeez. We have been losing house keys like crazy here and I gave the last one to the TP this morning, so I can't get in my house. Well, all right. I'll go to the school, and pick it up from her. Gotta hurry, so I make it during first period, as second is French, which is off campus god only know where. No time to blow dry, just get dressed and go.

Throw on my new (smaller sized, but that's another post) pants and navy blue heels, and...jeez. The pants shrunk more on their second wash, and I am now wearing hardcore geek floods.

So. I go to my teenage daughter's school with wet, towel-dried hair, no makeup, pants an inch too short, lovely sweater and navy heels. And I "sneak" into her Biology class, except it turns out that "sneaking in" means walking in directly behind the teacher, who is lecturing to the class. And, of course, it takes a while for either him or the TP to notice me. Everyone else? Oh, they noticed.

TP gave me the key, but words were not exchanged. In fact, she managed to avoid eye contact entirely, and may for some time to come.

Hey, at least I had clean pants on. 'Cause I'm all about the glamour.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's Science

JMan is undertaking his first ever science fair project. He gets high fives for picking a topic that involves edible materials, and high tens for having that material be chocolate.

His hypothesis was that different types of chocolate chips (white, milk, dark, etc.) would need different amounts of time in the microwave to melt. And did they ever. The weird thing was that, say, dark chocolate chips would melt about halfway after 15 seconds, but another set of dark chocolate chips wouldn't melt at all after 45 seconds. We pondered. Some microwave-induced un-melting quality of chips heretofore not understood? We kept melting. The results were all over the map.

We finally figured out this evening that it's the color of the glaze on the plate that matters. We have new plates, a mixed set of green, yellow and red. Green? You can nuke the chips for a minute before they start to melt, and the plates don't get hot. Yellow? OUCH after 1 minute, and super melty. Red is somewhere in the middle.

Since most of the experiments I get to be part of at work run somewhere along these lines, we were able to assure JMan that this was, in fact, a triumph - not a failure. I'm hopeful for him it'll even put him in the running for a prize. It's certainly made the whole experiment more interesting and useful.

But it has left me spending considerable time trying to figure out WHAT in the glaze on our new plates is doing that. I think I see lead testing kits in our future.

Mitt Me With Your Best Shot

So I'm almost finished with a pair of Knucks for the Spouse, and I've checked with him that he likes 'em, and it's all good. See them there? All guy-like and studly? And he's totally sweet and says he loves them.

And then today? We take the Teen Princess to a frisbee thingie, out in the hinterlands in January and it's coooooooooooold. I look over, and Spouse? He's wearing a very nice pair of heathered wool mitts almost identical to the ones I'm knitting. (Without the homemade-looking cuffs that I really was going to redo with smaller dpns, really!)

And so I ask, "how long have you had those?"

"Um...12 years or so?"

Me: "Ah. I missed that, somehow. So what were you going to do with the ones I was knitting?"

"I was going to use those as my 'dress' mitts!"

Now, that's just about the sweetest thing ever, and I do appreciate it. They are going to be reknit for ME, with the spiffy Knucks embroidery added. Thank you very much. He will get some real sock yarn socks, instead.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Fetching Hat Pattern

I had just under a ball of yarn left of the yarn I used to make Fetching mitts for the Teen Princess, and wanted to throw together a hat. I ended up having to knit it three times in order to get it to work, so thought I might as well put the pattern out there for anyone else who is a fan of Knitty's pattern and who might have a little yarn left over.

I bumped up to a size 7 needle to get the hat long enough before I ran out of yarn. So, same yarn (Knitty recommends Debbie Bliss Cashermino), one size up on your dpns.
Cast on loosely 100 stitches (25 per needle) over four dpns. Join, being careful not to twist (duh!), pm and knit 7 rows in k4 p1.

*Do Fetching cable twist on each k4 repeat (using cable needle or spare dpn, hold first two stitches in back, knit next two, then knit held stitches).

Knit four more rows in k4 p1.*

Repeat between ** two more times, then knit in k4 p1 pattern until hat measures 7".

Closure of hat: Row 1: *k1 k2tog k1 p1 k4 p1* Repeat until end of row.
Row 2: *k1 k2tog p1 k4 p1* Repeat until end of row.
Row 3: *k2tog p1 k4 p1* Repeat until end of row.
Row 4: Put last purl stitch of previous row on first needle (the one holding the stitches you are about to knit). P3tog (the purl stitch you just slipped, the knit stitch and the next purl stitch) K4. *p3tog k4* to end of row.
Row 5: *p1 k4* to end of row.
Row 6: *p1 k1 k2tog k1* to end of row.
Row 7: *p1 k1 k2tog* to end of row.
Row 8: *p1 k2tog* to end of row.
Row 9: *k2tog* to end of row.
Break yarn, use yarn needle to run yarn through remaining k stitches and draw closed.

Et voila! You have a Fetching hat!

Friday, January 04, 2008

In Which I Get Old and Break Down

There's a great moment in A Beautiful Mind where Jennifer Connelly's character tells Russell Crowe's that he can't think his way out of insanity. As someone who thinks entirely too much, it struck home for me. There are lots of things you can't think your way out of, although I'm always game to have a go.

Turns out, you can't think your way out of a rotator cuff injury, either. Lord knows I've tried. For three months. In fact, when I asked my doc why the darn thing was killing me at night but pretty bearable during the day, she leaned in, raised her eyebrows, looked me in the eye and said, "well, could be you've been *working hard at ignoring it* during the day."

She knows me pretty well. So well, that once it was diagnosed Wednesday and I was given a long list of things I am not allowed to do for at least a month, my shoulder started to hurt constantly, day and night. Whining in protest.

No: weight lifting, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, frisbee throwing, knitting once it starts to ache (I have about a half hour...if I'd learn to pick instead of throw, like my Neena told me, I'd have longer), lifting of heavy objects, walking the dog right-handed, opening or closing the kitchen window (don't ask). Plus, keeping a heating pad on it for 20 minutes every hour or so at work makes me look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. And I get to spend several hours a week on physical therapy. Slow, quiet, dull, nonproductive physical therapy.

The worst part is that this is the ONE age-related injury I was working to prevent. I've had numerous midlife girlfriends with rotator cuff injuries, and I knew I was above all that. I was lifting just the right weights in just the right amount in just the right way, careful to be ergonomically correct at work, etc. etc. etc.


In other news: I'm no longer undecided, and no longer leaning toward the safe candidate. Barack's my man. He rocks. I'm starting the first California Middle Aged Women with Damaged Shoulders for Obama chapter. Join me?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Oddly, this grown up holiday gets duller the older the kiddies get, but it's still awfully nice. Last night was Dungeness crab, asparagus and bruschetta, followed by local ice creamery peppermint ice cream, Master and Commander and Blades of Glory (both much, much better than I expected) until midnight, then watching Dick Clark's simultaneously heroic and scary countdown, asleep by 1:00am. Less than shabby.

The weather was so gorgeous this first morning that it was worth a run AND a walk (one without the pup, a significant trip hazard, and one with him), but now the clouds are looming offshore, and three days of rain are predicted. I feel like I'm just getting settled in to a vacation routine after 10 days off, but have to go back to the chaos and craziness tomorrow...

But for now, all is quiet and calm. Spouse watching the Rose Bowl, JMan and I taking turns rescuing Zelda on his new DS Lite (dang, that's fun...) and the Princess preparing to go off to yet another gathering of friends, our social butterfly.