Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye crappy old year that's been....

What am I doing for new years eve? Well...I made a big pot of borsht, and I'm waiting for my sweetie Manimal to get home from buttoning up the house project and then we'll probably eat borsht and go to bed at 9:00. Wheee!

I don't want to put 2008 down too badly because it's been the first year of my baby's life and I wouldn't trade it back for anything, but it's been a roller coaster and I'm not sad to see it go.

New Babies: just as much work as any abstinence only health class teacher ever tried to frighten you celibate by implying that they would be. Anyone want to help me with the grammar there?

And living somewhere that's not really your house, with most of your stuff in storage (I am STILL wearing maternity clothes, and I weigh ten pounds less than I did when I got pregnant, thank you belt) while your partner works 16 hour days trying to build a new house while also working at actual paying jobs. Yeah, that's not been the most fun. Remember the time I invited some people over for dinner and realized that in order to feed them we would need to use every bowl in the house...because we only have 8 plates, just 8 bowls.

Did I mention that Manimal broke his collar bone? How about that he had knee surgery? Oh, yeah, at the same time that he had a broken collar bone. Let's not repeat that ever again, ever. If there is anything crankier than a wounded Manimal trying to get around on crutches with a broken collar bone, then you can keep it at your house and I will definately not come and visit you.

How about the fact that Ragnarson seems determined to win the tooth race and has been teething continually since he was about 6 months old? That kid has every single tooth already with the exception of his two year molars. And they all came in fours. This causes him to wake up approximately 6 times a night...boy am I looking forward to the end of that chapter of his development.

So...yeah. If this seems really whiney, I'm sorry, but it's really not. I'm just sort of reflecting back and realizing that the reason I feel like I've been run over by a dump truck is that I just lived through one hell of a year. I'm actually sort of proud of myself for keeping it together (as much as I did, and thankfully Manimal was the only one to witness most of the breakdowns, and he's forgiven me...I think).

Here's to hard times and the surviving of them. I don't usually mark the new year by doing anything more special than throwing away the old calendar and hanging up the new one, but I am really feeling optomistic about 2009. I think optomisim is something I acquired with motherhood, maybe all that good breastfeeding oxytocin. I used to call myself an optomistic pessimist, meaning that I felt like everything was fucked up, but that it was all going to be okay anyway. Lately though I've found myself feeling like things are getting less fucked up, and that maybe, just maybe things are going to be great.

Ragnar...maudlen and dreary, but, you know, in a good way.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The great thing about never posting...

is that when I do finally start, I can make it look like I crank out the cool knits at super speed by picking through all the boring stuff and only trotting out the winners.

Super you say?

One of my oldest (not chronologically, just historically...although come to think about it Rat Girl is the same age as we were when we met...ohmygod, I feel really friends had a baby mere months after Ragnarson was born and when I asked her if she wanted a practical baby present, or a ridiculous knitted item, she casually mentioned that her signifigant was a huge superman fan. I considered it a mandate.
The sweater, modeled by Ragnarson, is the "Sue" babysweater, from Elspeth Lavold's "Take Five Collection." I picked that pattern because I had knit it before, and love the way it goes together...of course it only took me about five seconds to realize that I was going to include a button on cape...sewn of course, because knitted 1) would have been really heavy and 2) would have been too close to knitting a baby blanket, and I am philosophically opposed to the knitting of baby blankets.

It was finished embarassingly long ago, but I had to hold on to it because Ragnarson had to learn how to walk so that I could get a good picture of it, and then I had to hang on to it for months longer so that he could borrow it for a last minute Halloween costume, but it has finally winged its way to its new home and been pronounced by the Superman Fan to be the "coolest ever." High praise indeed. Good thing I knit it in a size two because the baby in question is definately closer to being two than he is to being a newborn. I'm going to start knitting his fifth birthday present soon...I think I'll make it for a 40" chest.

Ragnar...better at knitting than gifting on time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I gotcher knittin' right here...

There are nasty rumors floating around the blogosphere. It's been whispered in some circles that Ragnar doesn't have the knit anymore (not true, the blogosphere cares not if Ragnar knits or doesn't but it makes for a dramatic opening).

Untrue! and to prove it I throw down the (100% washable Merino) gauntlet and say "bring on the pictures of ridiculous hats.
So there! And not only that, but for some unfathomable reason, adult men of my acquaintance have been clamoring to be decked in horns and rivets as well, so not only are there baby vikings running about the place, but full grown old-enough-to-know-better types as well.

Of course, they are happy to walk around in public looking like (ahem) fierce medieval warriors, but they will not condescend to be photographed for posterity, even if posterity is my humble low traffic blog.

I have knit this hat enough times that writing up the pattern for it has become inevitable. There were only two things stopping me. The first being that the whole thing was originally inspired by Chile Con Yarne's Viking Baby Cap. Well not exactly, it was inspired by my adorible...I mean ferocious nephew, but a quick google of the phrase "viking baby cap" brought me straight to Yarne's door. The second was that I've been cribbing the horn portion of the hat from Jen Stafford over the The Dominitrix. If you have her book, or her pattern you can do the same, but you're not going to learn her secrets from me, no no. As a finally-begining-to-publish designer I am suddenly quite sensitive to this whole copywrite thing that people are so anxious about.

However, I have decided that although inspired by, my version has enough variance from the orignial that I can claim it as "my" design, and tonight I polished up my knitting sticks and knit a totally passable "horn" that is all my own, short rows, slipped stitches, the whole shebang.

So watch this space! Sometime soon you to will be able to outfit your family and friends with knitted versions of kitchy viking helmets.

And in the mean time, I finally fixed the flame baby-hat pattern, which had a completely wrong flame chart in it...these things happen when you knit a lot of things with flames in them and completely fail to lable your notes.

And for those of you on Ravelry, I has finally got my own "store." Which has exactly the same stuff that's already posted here, but you's in pdf format and you can save it in your Ravelry library and...and...yeah.

Ragnar...yes this is what I'm doing on christmas eve, SHUT UP.

Monday, December 08, 2008

One of those posts....

Yes, I suck as a blogger.

Yes I haven't updated in a loooong time.

Yes I have many many excuses (plague, broken bones (manimal's not mine), construction) which I will not bore you with here.

Yes, I have another blog which I did update. Go look at my soon to be finished new house.

Yes, I will make hollow, unenforceable promises to blog more regularly, in spite of the fact that we will be moving soon and have no immediate plans to plug in to the world wide waste of time...I wonder how long I'll be able to hold out before I go out and beg, borrow, steal an internet connection.

Yes, instead of content I will post a cute picture of a baby.

Ragnar...pathetic excuse for a blogger.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Open letter to failed financial institutions...

Dear FFIs,

Hey, it's me. Remember me? I'm that Fine Art major. You remember, the chronically under employed one who is always late on her payments? We've talked on the phone quite a bit. Usually the calls went something like this:

You: Hey, you owe us a bunch of money.
Me: Yeah, you and every other bank in America.
You: Ha, but seriously, how are you going to pay us back.
Me: Uhm...slowly?
You: Not good enough, we want it now or we're going to ruin your credit forever.
Me: So?
You: So that is really going to mess up your life.
Me: So says you.
You: No, really, give us our money.
Me: If I had it, you'd be the first one I'd give it to, after paying my mortgage, my utility bills, my grocery bill and the six other lending institutions in line ahead of you.
You: Aren't there sacrifices you can make? What if you cancel your cable?
Me: Don't own a television.
You: Uh...what about borrowing against your car?
Me: Yeah, I can't afford to pay you, and all you do is harass me at odd hours. If I borrow against my car and then can't pay them...because like I said, I can't pay you, then I don't have a car. That would seriously limit the amount of pizza I could deliver if I get that desperate.
You: Did we mention that we'll ruin your credit?
Me: Once or twice....look how about I call you back in 6o years when I have some extra cash?
You: But...but...but...
Me: Click.

Yeah, that chick. That was me! So anyway, I just wanted to say, welcome to the bottom. Also, you're welcome, since, although I couldn't afford to pay you, I do manage to pay my taxes, so part of that big check you're getting with all the zeros? That came from me. I'll be expecting repayment promptly, and if you're just one day late, I'm going to double the interest rate. Also, I'll need your home phone number so that I can call you during dinner and first thing in the morning.

Ragnar...I've been on the bottom so long, it's starting to look like the top.

Friday, October 03, 2008

All that and now he's getting smart on me?

I've been raising, maybe even nurturing (a little bit, on those days after I've gotten more than four hours of sleep...not consecutively of course, hah!) this "baby" for 13 and a half months now. You'd think that I would have realized by now that he is eventually going to stop being a baby and start being a "person," but no, every new thing he figures out is just as shocking as the last one.

There is one room in the house that is an absolute no-zone as far as the baby is concerned. It is where the computer lives, and where we throw things that are non-baby friendly so that we don't actually have to figure out what to do with them. He hates it when any member of his tribe is in this room. He used to hang on the gate and wail...but he has figured out that all he has to do is unplug the big orange extension cord, plugged in in the living room for lack of a three prong outlet in the "computer" room, and I will immediately cease to be engaged with the glowing box thingy and come back out, no doubt to play with him. If I sneak away while he is engaged with a toy or activity, I can eek out approximately 10 minutes to check my email or download photos before he figures out where I am and pulls my plug. He never pulls this plug when I am not in the computer room.

Similarly he has realized that if he brings me a toy I will say something dumb like "Oh, you brought me a green ball, thank you for the green ball Ragnarson," but if he brings me a book I will stop everything and read it to him...he doesn't really care about the book, and loses interest after about two pages (average of 10 words per page), but they work great as "mommy attention getter."

I noticed today that every time I went in the kitchen to try and wash dishes or cook (another gated off room), he would start banging one of his wooden blocks against the large window at the front of our house, which would of course bring me running.

But he still eats dirt, so he can't be that smart.
See that nice mud pit in the corner of the garden box? He made that all by himself.

Ragnar...mama of the monster.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Finally, some knitting content...

Yes it's true, in spite of everything I still haven't given up the old sticks and string...although I did make the mistake of letting Ragnarson "play" with a ball of yarn I was knitting off of the other day. "I'll just let him have it until I get to the end of this row," I thought to myself, thought I. Yeah...2 hours later, after unraveling the world's largest yarn knot, and untangling it from around his neck, and the furniture, I realized that getting to the end of the row just isn't that worth it.

Anyway, I'm trying to put some of my "patterns" together. I've received a ton of delightful comments about the "Golden Harvest Hat" since I've been using a picture of it as my "Ravatar." So I've decided to offer up the chart and let other people play along. I even reworked it a little so that people who aren't fans of our most preemenant breakfast eatery can enjoy it as well (the second version reads "eat the rich" which is a touching sentiment in these times of economic woe, don't you think?)

For the bargin price of ONE dollar, yes, One dollar (although if you are planning to pay via "paypal" I ask that you make it $1.36 since that's how much fees they charge me), I will send you a PDF file that includes both charts. The reason I'm selling it for so little is that it is only a chart, and it's only been knit once, it has some very long floats in it, and the gauge was sort of wonky and I had to felt it a bit when it was done. So basically this is an untested pattern, unsupported, but which took me awhile to figure out (tines on the fork people, there are tines on the fork). So it is what it is.

I am a complete newb at this "selling patterns online" thing, so you all are just going to have to work with me on this. If you are interested you can email me at jessyhenderson(atsign)geeeemail(dot)com (of course that is a phonetic spelling, to cut down on the spaminatoring, and you smart little firecrackers will correct the spelling before you try to send me a message yes?). Then I will send you the pattern and you will send me some money, honey. And of course you will send me pictures of your finished projects, and complaints about how fucked up my chart is, and eventually I will get sick of everyone's bitching and I will edit it into a proper pattern and then I will charge more money for it and anyone who didn't get it while the getting was good, will be shit out of yarn.

Ragnar...chart this.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Domesticity for Talk Like a Pirate Day...

Mixin' it up on the old D.P.

You were thinking I was gonna get all piratical for Talk Like a Pirate Day, weren't you? Huh? Weren't you? Well you thought wrong! I'm gonna get all domestic but I'll throw in a few "yars" just to keep everything comfy and piratical.

Yar!! I've got a crap ton of tomatoes sitting around the galley, and if'in I don't do something with 'em righty quick then they be stinkin' up the hold...and our hold doesn't need more stinkin' arrr har! A bowl of tomatoes, blanched and ready to slip out of their skins, yo ho. The pan on the right is to put shucked and seeded tomotoes in, the jar on the left is for seeds. If you're already seeding tomatoes for canning, you might as well save the seeds right? What? You've never saved tomato seeds? You wastrel! You scurvy lubber.

Just scoop the seeds out (or push them out with you thumbnail, yar!) and put them into some sort of container. Look! a jar of reddish sludge with lots of seeds in it. This jar has the seeds from about 10 tomatoes.

It is sitting on my windowsill where it will begin to ferment a little bit. We will be revisiting it every couple of days to see how those seeds are doing, yo ho ho and a bottle of rotten tomato pulp, har!

Ragnar...swash my buckle, and tie my apron strings.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My little prizefighter...

Last week I posted a (slightly exaggerated) story about Ragnarson's bedtime ritual, wherein I alleged that my baby doesn't look like an angel while he's asleep.

This is mama heresy, and admitting such a thing, in public no less, could get me bucked from the union. So I offer you photographic evidence.

See? He doesn't so much look like an angel, as he does a boxer down for the count.

Ragnar...mama jamma.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Should be...

Should be: writing cover letters to complete application packet for "dream job" that I didn't know I wanted before last Tuesday.

Am: farting around on Ravelry, having a beer and wondering how to translate "playing a lot of solitaire and occasionally updating my blog" into "excellent computer skills."

Ragnar...I am a people person, damn it, I am!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Lazy post...

I finally updated the "house" blog. So pretend you're interested and click on through.

And since I know that the only reason anyone stops here anymore is to check out pictures of the baby...
Notice how he is simultaneously mugging for the camera and pushing a piece of toast off the tray of his highchair...that is talent.

Ragnar...houseblogger, mommyblogger and maybe sometime soon a knitblogger...tease tease.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Are you sick of posts about the baby yet?

I've noticed a slight change in the types of anecdotes that "old-pro" type mama's tell me now that we've made it past the one year mark. For some reason when you are the mother (or father perhaps? one of you fathers will have to tell me) of a newborn, people tell you stories of the sleepless nights, the endless colic, the spitting up, the getting peed you need to hear that. I think it's the same instinct that causes us to tell birth horror stories to pregnant women, an ingrained type of cultural hazing perhaps.

Now that I am the proud Mama of a rockin' walkin' one year old people look at my superactive, always busy, dirty, flirty little one and tell me some version of this story. (I've heard it three or four times now)

"Some of my favorite times with my baby were after they had been running around all day, and had their bath. They would be all warm and snuggly and I they would smell so good. Then when they went to sleep they would seem so peaceful, like a little angel."

The most important parts of this story are that 1). babies smell good after their bath, and 2). babies look like angels when they are sleeping.

Now I don't know if this story is some construction of memory, but if I was going to tell my version it would go something like this.

"I remember when my baby started walking, he would run around the house like a maniac all day long, spreading all his toys out around the living room, stashing them under the furniture where I would have to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve them, or dropping them over the babygates and then screaming because he couldn't get them. After all the toys had been taken out of the toy box, then he would start to hide our shoes and pull things off of the tables, where I put them so that he wouldn't be able to get at them. In the evening he would get this sort of manic intensity, alternating between hyperactive wriggling and fussy crying, and then I would know that it was time for bed.

I wouldn't want to give him a bath, because I knew that would just get him more cranked up, plus his favorite bathtime game was "swing the washcloth," so both me and the bathroom would be entirely soaked by the time we were done. I didn't really have a choice though, if it was just the fact that he was all dirty I probably could have let it slide, but bathtime was the time that I would check him for new bruises and scrapes and make sure that all of the new injuries were minor enough that we wouldn't have to run to the emergency room.

After the bath he would smell like a wet dog, and I would towel him off and wrestle him into his pajamas. Then I would lay down with him and try to calm him down by reading him a couple of books, although I would have to give him and extra book to chew on, and usually he would get bored with the story and start whacking me with the extra book. Then when we finally laid down he would try to nurse while standing up and getting out of bed at the same time, which was pretty irritating. Eventually he would just pass out, although he would still be twitching in his sleep, rolling around and tangling up his blankets. Sometimes he would even sleep for half an hour before he'd wake up enough that I'd have to come back in and nurse him back to sleep."

Ragnar...of course the son of the Manimal would smell like a wet dog after his bath.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stealing a riff...Questions I knew the answer to, but asked anyway because I'm just masochistic like that. Part 1 of 22

Blatantly stealing someone else's funny idea is almost as good as coming up with your own right?

In an "imatation is the sincerest form of flattery" type vein, I give you:

Questions I knew the answer to, but asked anyway because I'm just masochistic like that. Part 1 of 22

Asked of Manimal, after returning from having rinsed the baby in the shower in an effort to remove the shit that he had managed to smear all over himself, including up his nose and in his eye:

"Do you want to hold the baby, or scrub shit out of the carpet?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More fun with bowls....

The "turtle" bowl sculpture...
The "Alien Space Pod", bowl sculpture...
The "Happy Apple Up on Top" bowl sculpture...note Ragnarson's less than thrilled expression? Rat Girl isn't around to interpret for me, but I think we can safely say that he could he talk he would be saying: "Uh...Mom? Are you okay? Because I think you're sort of overdoing it with the bowls, and in case to forgot, those are MY bowls, so, can I like, play with them please?"

Ragnar...stainless steel is my new medium, baaaaybee.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Baby toys?

For those of you who don't have children yet, I'll let you in on a big parenting secret that will save you a lot of money when you take the plunge.

There is no such thing as baby toys.

There are lots of cute hunks of wood, plastic and plush marketed as baby toys of course, but these are really "parent" toys. Things for you to play with while the baby entertains him/herself by eating paint chips, and stale crackers out of the corners where the vacuum won't reach.

There's pretty much only one game at our house these days, and it's called "stack 'em up, knock 'em down." Guess which part of that is my job? Ragnarson is getting pretty quick at the knock 'em down part, so I rarely get more than three things stacked, and he's got quite an arm, so things fly pretty far. Really we should rename it "stack 'em up, knock 'em down, watch Mama crawl under the chair to get the blocks" because I think that's the part he really likes.

We have a set of stacking blocks, sturdy wooden nesting blocks that have been passed down to us through two previous children. Ragnarson is systematically destroying them. I have a "things that need to be glued" pile on the livingroom table, and there is usually at least one of these blocks awaiting repair.

The absolute best stacking "toy" of the moment is a bunch of stainless steel bowls, some that I bought at a garage sale specifically for Ragnarson, and some that used to be our salad bowls, but which are now part of the clangy, bangy pile in the playbox.

Being the frustrated artist that I am, I immediately saw the possiblity for sculpture a'la Brancusi's "Endless Column" and have been sort of obsessed about getting ALL bowls stacked up the point where I caught myself holding Ragnarson at bay with one hand and trying to finish my tower with the other...see what I mean about "parent toys?" I finally managed it by making a secondary pile of things to distract Destructo Boy while I quickly stacked and photographed.Yeah, I am well aware of how pathetic this is.

And Ragnarson: such a critic.
Ragnar...yeah, I need to get out more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A milestone to be remarked upon.

Hey look, a one year old!

This post is a little late, because, well, because it is. But if it was a week ago, and I was thinking back about what was happening at this time last year (you know, a week ago), I would have been thinking about a crazy 69 hours of my life starting around 11:00 pm on August 13th. 69 hours that included some of the most frightening , painful, exciting, exhilarating things that have ever happened to me. I still haven't written out the "birth story" because at first it was too frustrating and sad (being transferred to the hospital after having hoped for an intervention free "natural" birth), and then when the bad parts started to fade and I was ready to come to terms with it all, well, I had a very energetic, amazing, demanding baby to take care of, and no time to sit down and sort through all my memories and feelings. So...someday I will type it all down, but for now it's enough that I'm starting to remember and treasure the good bits, and let the stressful, irritating bits slide off into the fuzzy part of memory. (Ragnarson, age 2 weeks, with his grandma, what a peanut! I honestly have no memory of what it was like to hold my newborn baby...weird)

It was amazing to feel my body getting ready to push out a little human.

It was good to have a partner there to lean on, in a labor that seemed without end, he was there with me for almost every contraction (except when I sent him out to fetch the then new Harry Potter book on tape...)

It is funny to remember my midwife telling me to have a beer and try to get a little sleep.

(Ragnarson, age two months, gaining wisdom on his Papa's knee)

It is beautiful that after every stressful minute of the hospital experience, that my sister-in-love miraculously appeared at my bedside minutes before her nephew made his world debut (she lives in Seattle, and needless to say isn't normally to hand).
(Age 3 months, meeting his "aunt" Nora (the dog...yes my parents needed a grandchild and not a moment too soon) and his Uncle)
(Age 4 months, the saucer days...that lasted for, oh, five minutes or so)

I was just reading somewhere about how we have a 70% start rate for breastfeeding babies, but that number drops off dramatically around 2 weeks and continues to plumet until by 6 months only 35% of American babies are breastfed. That would certainly have been us if it hadn't been for the postpartum support I got from "the midwives" and the whole community at the birthcenter.
(This is maybe 6 months? My photo organization and labeling gets pretty fuzzy after month 5, which is when the mobility started)

Every baby should come with a 10 year old sister, and that's all that needs to be said about that.

(Month 13)

And it doesn't look like he's going to start wearing clothing anytime soon....

Ragnar...frankly flabbergasted by this walkin' one year old crazy man.

Monday, June 30, 2008

My first meme

Because everyone likes to show off their smartness...consider yourself tagged. I can't not commentate, so you might want to find someone with less opinions than me if you plan to cut and paste this to your blog.

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.” (top 100 series of books maybe, by my count there are a lot more than 100 books on this list)
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (bloglines doesn't have an underline, so I'm putting my favs in red...pretty don'tcha think?)
4) Reprint this list on your blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (it sort of chaps me that this is number 4, kudos to JK and all, but Harry Potter does not belong anywhere close to Lord of the Rings or To Kill a Mockingbird)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (parts of it, the old testament mostly, and some of the gospels...and of course revelations, I'm a recovering goth girl after all.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (okay, my dad read it out loud to us when we were kids, but that still counts)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (well not the COMPLETE works, but I was neigh apon obsessed with Hamlet in high school, must have read is 6 or 7 times)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks (never even heard of it..yikes)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (nor this one neither...gonna have to turn in my library card)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (hey...isn't that part of the chronicles of Narnia? What gives?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
(does book on tape count?)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (book on tape again)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (book on tape, and I am OFFENDED that this is on this list, especially coming in ahead of One Hundred Years of Solitude, what a craptastic waste of everyone's time)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (book on tape...sigh)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (book on tape)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville and again and again
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (I liked "in a sunburned country" much more)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (does the first page count?)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (I woulda thought this one was covered by the "complete" works, but I guess not...LOVE me some Hamlet)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (except I skipped about 50 pages in the middle...)

47, not even half...but then again much better than 6. And I've actually been meaning to dip into Austen and the Bronte's so ask me again next year.

Ragnar...if listening counts as reading, I'm pretty well read...or heard, or something.

Saturday, June 14, 2008 public

Yes that is a giant knitting needle.

That's also Rae of Rae's Yarn Boutique, and my baby.

I think Ragnarson might turn out to be a knitter.

We publicked and we knitted and my team won the contest for knitting on the giant needles...but I couldn't take pictures of that because I was furiously knitting.

I am now obsessed with the giant needles. I want to knit something cabled...and huge.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

G is for...

Garden House!! That's Ragnarson, of course, trying to cram as many woodchips in his mouth as he can before I put the camera away and come after him.

Our Governor, the esteemed Jennifer Granholm (she's canadian, eh?) started something called the Cool Cities Initiative. The idea is to make Michigan's cities cooler, so that young people won't relocate out of state, and perhaps some of the people who move here for school will stay once their schooling is done. Sort of a lame name for what is essentially a really cool (heh) program.

So communities write up grant proposals for things that are "cool" and if they meet the cool criteria the government gives them some money. One of those cool things is in a park right by my house.

It's a huge greenhouse full of raised garden beds. Community groups can apply for space, and then they can use the greenhouse to grow veggies. There are even tons of seedlings started so that literally all you have to do is dig a little hole and plunk them into "your" bed.
This is the "moms and toddlers" plot. Currently it's full of collard greens and chinese cabbage, but the cabbage at least is starting to bolt, so I expect it will be pulled out soon. I've been planting a few tomatoes and things every time I get a chance to go. In the upper right corner there is a foot square section of lettuces that's been keeping my family in salads for the last month and a half, and in front of that is some basil that someone else planted. I'm excited to see that coming up.

This is the first year that they've been open, so I'm sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Right now I go in every couple of weeks (I'd be in more often but I'm trying to get in some studio time as well), and I transplant a few things, and I plant a few things, and I harvest bags and bags of greens. There is a staff of interns and volunteers that keep everything watered, and there are hardly any weeds or bugs because it's inside. Maybe I'm the only person in the neighborhood that eats spinach or something, but I'm finding it hard to keep up. Every time I get the chance to visit someone says "That lettuce needs to be harvested." or "The Cilantro is bolting, why don't you take some home with you." It's MADNESS. Here's my haul from today. A pound and a half of Kale and a pound and a half of spinach.
Ragnar...gettin' her green on.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Requiem for a cat...

Last night we had to say good-bye to our cat. The grief hasn't hit me until just this second...something about looking for a picture of her for this post just made it all real.

We joked a lot about her, since she wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, and she had some irritating personal bringing half dead animals into the house to play catch and release with, but she was just about the sweetest natured kitty you could possibly know. When we first brought her home, she was out from behind the bathtub and sitting on our laps within half an hour, and everyone who came over remarked on how friendly she was.

Good-bye Splashy, it was nice to have you in the family. I hope you're in a good place where the cat nip is always fresh and plentiful, there are lots of half knit sweaters to lie on, and the food bowl is always full.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

F is for....

Fiber art...or "fucked, if I don't finish this fiber art in time for the East Lansing Art Festival on May 17th."

I don't think of this blog as a "knitting" blog per se, but rather as a "humorous reflections on life," blog. Sort of like if Erma Brombeck and Dave Barry had a child and she was a pirate with a potty mouth who thought she was funnier than she really is, kinda sorta thing. If it's been awhile and I haven't had anything funny to write about, I put up a knitting post. Lately it's just been me barely scrapping by in the world of ABC along...and I'm going to do something about that really I am, 'cause it's lame damn it, and this here is the year of gooder blogging so that just won't fly.

I have done a few quilt posts in the past, but for some reason I have this feeling that my bleaders just aren't interested in quilting. Which is silly for several reasons, the first of which being the supposition that I actually have bleaders, the second being that I know most of the people who read my blog (hi Jiggy, hi Dr. Vic, hi Lavendurgle, hi, Layne, hi Nancy, hi Sarah, hi Diane) and they've never given me any indication that they wouldn't be interested in quilting.

So if you're coming along for the ride, you can expect a few more posts like this:

What have I been doing that's keeping me away from the blog? I've been chasing Ragnarson around the house in a semi crouched over position, and prying various choking hazards out of his mouth, and I've been "working." Working means driving over to pick up the babysitter, driving over to the studio and spending at most three or four hours dividing my time between co-wrangling the baby, and trying like hell to put together a few new pieces in time for the first art show of the season so that it's not painfully obvious that I'm showing pretty much exactly the same stuff that I was showing last year...

Last time I picked out some fabric:
And sewed some of it together:
Yeah: doesn't really look like three hours work does it? Have to step up the pace a bit. Thankfully Ragnarson seems to be over his teething at least for the moment, so at least he's in a pretty good mood. wrangler

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Extra Credit

In case you were keeping score, the answer to last weeks parenting question was:

Have a beer and eat peanut butter directly out of the jar.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

E is for...and a conundrum

E is for eat, or a picture is worth a 1000 words:
And here's my conundrum, I never had to face these sorts of problems pre-infant.

If you own three pairs of pants, and two of them are in the wash, and the baby pees on the last one, and you have to pick up the other child from school in 20 minutes, is it better to switch the laundry into the drier and hope that miraculously two pairs of jeans will be dry in 20 minutes? Or should you start looking for the hairdryer to dry out the pee spot on the peed on pair. By the way, the baby is trying to kill himself as always, so you'll have to figure out some way to prevent him from offing himself while you either switch the laundry or look for the hairdryer. Alternately you could wear a pair of the Manimal's pants, but he is considerably shorter than you are, and although you could probably argue that 4 inches of ankle would make them "capri," it's doubtable that anyone is going to buy that, since they are "work" pants and have all manner of construction related stains/tears/burn marks.

What to do? What to do?

Ragnar, mother of an 8 month old.

Happy 8 month birthday Ragnarson, no no, don't put that in your mouth.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

D is for...

Still playing Alphabet catch up, I haven't seen any G's yet, so I think I'm getting closer to the rest of the pack...anyway.

D is for Design...or Designer as the case maybe.

I'm starting to put designs down on paper. Or whatever the cyberspace equivalent of paper is, since so far I'm putting them down on Microsoft Word. I've even launched one of the little boogers out into cyberspace, and if I claimed that I didn't check Ravelry every day to see how many people had queued it, well then I would be lying. (4 projects, and in 35 queues...I can't even begin to tell you how twitter patted that makes me).

And I think I'm finally figuring it out a little bit. I've been knitting for about five years now, and I've been designing that whole time, since I knit the way I cook. "Hmm, what shall we make today? Let's look in the about a cheesecake? That sounds good. I like the shape of the cheese cake, but I'm not sure about the cheese part. I think I'll substitute radishes and see what happens." Manimal always stretches my knitability since he is very particular about his wardrobe. I've knit him several pairs of socks, none of which fit quite right, although they are all worn in an effort to demonstrate the fact that he is deserving of hand knit socks, many many hats most of which are worn out although again each was not quite as perfect as it could have been, and a sweater vest, which is too warm to wear.

Recently though, I managed to knit him a hat which meets his every criteria, and a sweater vest that he hasn't taken off since I finished it a week ago (both of which he is wearing in the picture above). What's particularly exciting to me is that the vest, the Arrrrgyle vest, was designed completely by me (Arrgyle was inspired by Julia over at Moth Heaven but I had a radically different stitch count than she did so I redrafted it) and that it worked out just the way I thought it would. Which is just down right crazy, and damn exciting. Now if you asked me to gradate it for different sizes I would look at you with my head cocked to one side and my tongue hanging out, but it's taken me five years to get here so in another five maybe I'll be able to create a real live pattern with multiple sizes and everything.

I know that this post sounds a little bit "Me me me meeeee, ain't I so great," but that's not the tone I'm trying to strike. I'm just excited that I've finally learned enough that I can start to make some of the things in my head come out into the yarn. It's sort of like taking French classes all through High School and then ordering a cup of coffee and a croissant at a cafe in Paris, and actually having them bring you one.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Letting the chips fall...

You'd think that since I don't do my New Years until March that I'd have all my goals and ambitions for the next year all figured out by now...but I don't. I am working on it though, and I should post a nice introspective "my thoughts on 2008" post sometime in the next...9 months or so.

Instead you'll just have to slog through another baby post. I'm sorry, but that's just how it goes, you all are my support group, so you're the ones I turn to when, let's just say for instance, I look up and the baby is picking paint chips off the wall and eating them! Seriously! This is taking the anti-evolution, suicidal baby thing to a whole new level. Big stinkin' lead containing, splintery paint chips. Damn baby.

And I looked up from reading blogs last night and what did I see?

The table has been breached! This picture was taken this morning after I cleaned off all the random bits of yarn, stitch markers, half knit sweaters, slips of paper with important phone numbers on them, magazines, library books, net-flicks envelopes, pencils, head phones and all the other detritus that has built up in my nursing nest. Admittedly I haven't done much nursing in the nest lately, since Ragnarson is only interested in eating when he is on the final verge of sleepiness, otherwise there are so many other things to do (paint chips!). The nest is the corner that I retreat to during naps to get a few minutes of knitting in before the baby starts to squirm again. I spent last night tracking down all of my knitiphinalia and putting it away. I finished Eli's Arrrgyle yesterday, and the latest stitch challenge square last night, and as a result there were a few moments when I had NOTHING on the needles. I took a picture of my needle case, full to bursting.

Or course that doesn't mean that every project I am working on is done. There are several partially knit sweaters around. In the interest of truth, I did dig down to the bottom of the "time out" bin after taking that photo, only to discover that the unfinishable free wool sweater has a #6 needle in it that is holding some stitches until I can decide if I'm going to frog the sleeves or technically speaking there was ONE lousy pair of needles that weren't in the case, but come on, you're not going to call me on that one are you?

As a start to the "new year of knitting" this is my current "in progress" list.

Super secret baby sweater: Pattern, Sue baby sweater from Elsebeth Lavold's Design Collection 6. Back finished. Front and sleeves, unstarted.

Ragnarson's bear: Pattern, Best Friend Bears, from Interweave knits Holiday 2006. Body finished. Arms partially stuffed. To finish: stuff arms, and sew to body, knit face and sew on. Why I haven't done this already? I have no idea. Technically speaking the bear is wearing a sweater, but I consider that a separate project, as yet unstarted.

The unfinishable free wool sweater: Pattern, loosely inspired by "Celtic Icon" from Inspired Cable knits. Body, finished. Sleeves, the cables on the sleeve caps aren't matching up, I think the simplest fix would be to frog both sleeves back to the armpit decreases, and reknit them simultaneously, which would only leave the hood. This is going to happen...uh...never.

Top Down Baby Sweater: Finished, but I think the neck and cuffs are too tight, I'm going to reknit them on a size 7 instead of a size 6. Thanks to last nights put-away-athon I now know where my #7 needle is.

All other unfinished projects have been tossed into the "FROGIT" pile. I can't even be bothered to frog them until I need the yarn for something else, since that would take up precious "nap" time that would better be spent knitting.

Ragnar....ruthless frogger of the high seas.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Sprang Sprat...

It is March 21st, the Vernal Equinox, Naw Ruz, and there is a bloody great "winter weather" advisory on, and we are set to get upwards of 8 inches of snow. I would go and take a picture of it, but it would be fucking depressing. Go and get a piece of blank paper out of your printer, hold it about five inches away from your nose and that's what it looks like outside right now.

So I'm going to stay here in "denial" for a bit, and pretend that it still feels like the first day of spring.
Ragnarson turned 7 months old last Sunday, and thus far I haven't sat on him, lost him, or drown him in the bathtub, so you can imagine that I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. He celebrated his 7 month birthday by mastering the right, left, right, left crawl, although he still goes back to the seal/inchworm belly flop method when he get's excited, like when I've forgotten to put the cat food bowl up on the counter while he is in the kitchen.
I looked across the livingroom the other day and he was sitting up by himself, which was shocking enough that it was a full five seconds before I realized that the reason he was sitting quietly was because he was happily munching on a piece of paper that he wasn't supposed to have. I was surprised because up to that point he had shown no interest in being sat up, and would protest by flipping over on his back. I am seeing a pattern though, that I know all too well. The "I will learn new things by myself, thank you, and don't try to give me any advice, or heaven forbid, teach me anything, because I'm only interested in things that I figure out for myself," pattern. He is my son afterall, so this should come as no surprise.

He is hauling himself up on things as well, and I spent a few days following him around trying to prevent the thumps and bumps, but eventually I realized that I was just making things worse. I do cringe when I hear the cranium/floor thunk, but I actually hear it a lot less often now that I am just letting him do his own thing. So far the fun game seems to be "take things out of the toybox."

So I guess that's what spring means for me this year. Not the tender little green things, but new growth, definitely.

Ragnar...not sleeping is sort of like being drunk, except not so restful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

C is for...

Well if it was T, it would be "T is for my tardy ass," since other ABCers have moved on the bigger and better letters like "F." I'll be playing a little ABCatch-up.
Anyway. I toyed with the idea of making every single letter of the Alphabet be something baby which case C would be for crawling, and T would be for terrifying, but I actually have a really good "C" with lots of pictures:
C is for Construction.

Siding is done. Now we just need wires, ducts, walls, drywall, cupboards and close and yet so far.

Ragnar...who doesn't play by the rules.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Publish or Perish

I have a new addiction: the pattern browser in Ravelry. It is something that I can do with one finger while listening to public radio podcasts, which is important since Ragnarson has a cold and as a result has completely given up sleeping in bed. He only likes to sleep on the boppy, on my lap, and since he's sick he's taking four or five hours worth of naps a day...sigh.

It's endless, there are over 4,000 patterns in the "free" section alone, and being the broke ass that I am, that's the section that interests me the most. In my Ravelry library alone I have around 100 pdf's, and at least that many on my computer as well...and those are just the patterns that I saved because I thought that I might someday, possibly, maybe, think about buying yarn with the intention of knitting them. I have to say though, having all those lovely patterns right at my fingertips just waiting to be printed out and slipped into plastic sheet protectors makes me feel like a wealthy wealthy woman.

Also makes me feel like a slacker, since I've been meaning to write up some of my patterns for ages.

And apparently making me feel like a slacker is a good way to motivate me, because today, while the baby was sleeping on my lap I typed out the pattern for the Flame On baby hat. I even went and found a freeware pdf converter, because I am a big old snob and only like my free patterns to be in pdf format. I was not so successful in finding a place to host pdf files though, so for the time being if you want it you will have to go and get it from the google documents site where I am hosting the word's the same exact thing as the pdf, just not converted.

So go and get it. And if you're on Ravelry put it in your queue because that would make me feel all warm and gooshy on the inside. Hopefully in the next couple of days it will be downloadable from there as well, I'm just waiting to get my "designer" page linked to my "profile" page, and then I'm told, the magic will happen.

I'm hoping that this will be the first of several, if not many.

Ragnar....I'm a deeeesiiiiiiner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

B is for....

Since the other ABC alongers have moved on to C, I decided I might as well post my B. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone here that:
B is for Baby.
(Ragnarson, 2 days old)

B was going to be for Birth Story, which is the reason that this post was delayed. I have been working on it off and on since Ragnarson was born, but it is a long story which is hard for me to write. It's hard in one sense, because I don't remember a lot of it. I was in labor for more than 60 hours, and even though I was sleeping between contractions (HA!) that is a long time. In another sense it's hard because things did not go as planned. Instead of a quiet, peaceful birth center, birth-in-the-tub sort of birth, I got a crazy transfer-to-the-hospital, us-against-them sort of birth. It will be written in good time, and I will send it off to the birth center to post on their website along with all the other birth center babies. Even though I didn't end up actually birthing at the center, the midwives are still very important to me.

(2 months old)

When we finally brought Ragnarson home from the hospital I remember having this feeling of "What? Who the hell thought it was a good idea to send me home with a new born baby? Look at him, he's like a doll with no stuffing, what if I sit on him?" And breastfeeding did not take off smooth and easily. He lost a lot of weight, and I was, of course, obsessive about it. I remember once, when he was probably four or five days old. I was scrutinizing every diaper for "mustardy seedy texture," which was not what I was finding. I called the Birth Center, and talked to one of the midwives, trying to affect a casual tone, "I'm sure it's nothing, I'm just a little worried because his poop is still brown, and it seems like it should be more yellow by now." Not fooled in the least she said "Are you okay honey, do you want me to come over and weigh him?" "No" sniffle snort "I'm okay," although I obviously wasn't. "You're right on my way home," she said, "I'll just stop by and say Hi." Sniffle, snort, "Okay, thanks." Anyway...they are great people those midwives.

(4 months old)

So here's to birth! Every woman I know who's had a baby, especially the crazy hippy ones who've had "natural" births, is totally blown away by the experience. Half of them decide to start training as doulas or midwives, and god help me I'm right there with them. Pity my poor friends that had the misfortune to get pregnant after I did, because I am insufferable on the subject of babies.

6 months old, and for the record that is avacado up his nose, not a nasty green booger. You can see me knitting in the background as his sister is feeding him. I don't get avacado up his nose when I'm feeding him...or at least there isn't photographic evidence that I do.

I love you Ragnarson, thanks for making me into a Mama. crazy, but still a pirate.