Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I’ve become obsessed. Not that OCD tendencies are new to me or anything.
So, I’ve whined before about not being able to figure out knitting. I’ve crocheted for years, so its not like yarn baffles me or anything. Many times over the years I had picked up yarn and needles and tried to crochet a scarf or something. I could get by if it was a simple garter stitch, but it still didn't look right. Purling? Don’t get me started.
Anyways, I recently got four of the Candi Jensen crochet books: “Candi Babies”, “Candi Tots”, “Candi Blankets” and “Crochet Scarves”. This led to me purchasing another one of her books, “Knit Scarves!”
Why would I purchase a knitting book when I can’t knit?
Glutton for punishment? Maybe.
But I decided that I would knit a scarf. I went to my LYS, got some nice yarn (a 50/50 angora wool blend), some nice needle (Takumi bamboo - NOT metal like I’d always used before), and somehow I managed to knit a scarf. A very basic garter stitch, but still, I KNIT A SCARF! So, I knit another scarf using a very basic rib stitch pattern. Now I’ve knit another scarf from the same rib stitch pattern to send to my father for Christmas. I decided that I was on a roll and would make some more scarves for Christmas gifts. I had my cousin Erin pick out a pattern from the “Knit Scarves!” book and she picked out a bit more of a difficult one than the rib stitch that I’d become accustom to. She chose one called “Mohair and Lace”. It has a pretty lace pattern on the ends, decreases, yarn overs, I had no clue what some of these terms meant and silently I was cursing her for choosing what I read to be a difficult pattern. But I decided to challenge myself and along with the pattern book I’ve kept “Knitting for Dummies” open. Somehow, I’ve managed my way through the first part of “Mohair and Lace”. I’ve made the lace edge and made it through decreasing and yarn overs and... and... and... its actually coming along just fine! I haven't exploded with frustration. I haven’t thrown a tangled mass of mohair blend into the far corner of my closet. I actually have approximately 9 inches worth of scarf. I may have quite a bit more to go before its finished but it’s actually turning out okay.
Anyways, this luck I’ve had with the knitting and stuff has led me to purchase enough yarn to keep me busy for a freaking year! Seriously, my stash is out of control. I have to stop - or find a 12 step program or something. I’ve got yarn scattered all over the place. I don’t discriminate either. I have acrylic, wool, wool blends, cotton, boucle, mohair, thin, bulky.. every kind imaginable. Its a serious problem, but I think I’ll enjoy thinning the stash down.

Also, I hurt myself today. It was raining, not too badly, there was no thunder or anything like that, but my Grandma’s poodle got underneath the back porch and was too scared of the rain to come out. So, I got to crawl under the porch to get him. I emerged, absolutely covered in mud, cobwebs and who knows what else, and somewhere in the process I think I pulled a tendon in the back of my leg. On the backside of my knee it hurts like you can’t believe if I try to straighten my leg. I know Its not my hamstring because the pain doesn’t extend along the length of the hamstring - its just isolated to that one area behind my knee. I’m okay if I keep my knee bent, but straightening it to any degree - even walking - is so painful! At what point do I give up on self medicating with Salon Pas, Ben Gay and the like, and actually go to a doctor? Theres not much that a doctor can do for something like that, is there?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I'm Clueless...

As to how I'm going to get everything done...

Christmas is only 29 days away. TWENTY NINE days!
How the hell has Christmas creeped up on me so quickly?
Now, if I was SMART I would have started making all of my Christmas gifts back in September. However, I'm a dumbass who thought "Oh, I've got three months until Christmas to get this all done."
Lets see what I have to do...
1 afghan - this is about 95% done so it shouldnt be a problem.
1 afghan - this is about 20% done, but its worked on a Q hook with 2 strands at a time - I think this one will go quickly.
3 knit scarves, one of which is about 50% completed, I'm hoping to complete this one tomorrow. The second one should be a quick knit - a few color changes but I think I'll be able to get it done quickly. The third scarf is the one that has me worried. My knitting skills are remedial at best. I can knit & purl, but thats about it. The scarf I have to do has a lace pattern to it and I'm not sure how well I'll be able to get it done or how long it will take me. The second and third scarves have yet to be started - I've bought the yarn but havent cast on a single stitch yet.
1 pair of baby booties - I have one bootie 95% done and the second bootie about 50% done. The first bootie was 100% completed but its trimmed in a super plush white yarn and got fondled so much the white trim has gotten fairly dirty so I need to rip that part out and redo it before I give it to the expectant mother.
1 pair of slippers. My 5 year old cousin, Janae, saw the booties I'm making and wants a pair. Everytime she comes over and sees that I have yarn out she asks me where her boots are. I can be rather indulgent with her so I am going to try to make them - I'm just nor sure how I'll adapt the pattern for booties made to fit a 6 month old large enough for a kindergartener. I've gone with larger yarn - instead of Berrocco suede, which is ribbon like in its thickness, I've purchased Lion Brand Suede. Its much thicker and the colors are brighter, which Janae will like. I'm hoping that the thicker yarn used with a much larger hook will make adapting the pattern easier.
1 poncho - again, I've purchased the yarn but haven't started a single stitch. This is crochet though, so it should go much more quickly for me. I am much quicker and more adept at crochet than knitting.
Baking for a bake sale fundraiser. I've promised at least one cake and 1 batch of cookies. This needs to be done by December 6th.
General crafts.
I like to give small token gifts to a few of my coworkers. One thing I've done in the past that went over well was hot chocolate jar gifts. I just go to the local dollar store and get a few jars and coffee mugs. Then I'll make some chocolate covered spoons (incredibly quick, but it looks really nice and decadent) then I'll make some hot cocoa mix by mixing powdered cocoa, powdered creamer, some sugar and a little bit of cinnamon. Fill the jar with the mix and put it in a gift bag along with the coffee mug and a couple of the chocolate covered spoons.
Another successful gift I've made in the past for my female friends and family members have been sugar scrubs. Again, just go to the dollar store and get some jars or pretty containers of some sort. Then mix together sugar and almond oil, then stir in essential oils in various scents.
This year I'm thinking of also making herbal soaps. I found a recipe on ehow.com that looks REALLY easy. It may be cheating a little, but instead of making the soap from scratch, you just melt down some plain unscented glycerin soap and mix in dried herbs then pour the mixture into soap molds and let it set. It sounds quick and easy so I think I'll try this for the women in my extended family and my female friends.
So, I'm wondering how I'll manage to get this all done. In addition to working full time Monday through Friday, I have at least one Saturday work dat in December. I've agreed to come in on a Saturday and do some training for another department. The night before said Friday I also have a holiday party to go to.
All of this is why coffee is my friend.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Well, unfortunately theres no photos of the crazy relatives for you today. We had a bit of excitement at my aunt and uncles house last night. My younger aunt had some sort of allergic reaction to something (we have no clue what) and it caused her to have great difficulty in breathing. Paramedics were called, and she was taken to the emergency room. All is well, they took great care of her and had her discharged and on her way home within about 2 & 1/2 hours. The bright side? Hot firemen and paramedics at Thanksgiving dinner. Damn I wish I had taken photos.
I'm back at work today. I don't get to sleep in, I'm not going shopping today, I just get to play catch up at work today since it's so slow. Oh well - I need the slower pace of today.
I do need to start thinking about what I will do for Christmas gifts this year.
I have yet to purchase or finish making a single gift.
I didn't say I haven't started a few - I have - I just haven't FINISHED any and I have no clue how I'll get them all done in time. ARGH!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm home from my trip to Salt Lake City.
Last spring a dear friend of mine, Shauna, moved there with her husband, Jesse, and Friday I drove out to visit and to help them move into their new home. We were so busy moving that we didnt do too much in the ways of fun stuff, but we did go to The Bakery for dinner when I got there Friday night. I had the best canoli there that I've ever had outside of Boston.
Also, since we were moving the entire time I didnt get the chance to take many pictures but we did get one of me with their new Beagle, Chloe.

She's such a cute sweet puppy. I MIGHT have taken about a half a roll of photos of just her. I'll see how those come out when I get the film developed.
The 10.5 hour drive back to California is long. And boring. Dear God is it ever boring.
As boring as the drive was, I made it home safe and sound. Obviously. Now I'm at my aunts house in Fairfield for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the 2nd year that my aunt and uncle have hosted Thanksgiving. My Uncle Mike loves to cook and he always tries something new for Thanksgiving dinner, whether its a new side dish or a new way of fixing the turkey. From what I can see so far, we're having mashed potatoes, yams, Turkey, my aunt made some deviled eggs and a cranberry rum bundt cake that looks wonderful - I might have snagged a wee bit of the icing and it might have tasted heavenly.
The rest of the family hasnt arrived yet. So far its just my Aunt Marla, Uncle Mike, cousin Erin, her husband Jeremy, and myself. We have a little bit of quiet time left before the rest of the family arrives and the chaos begins. Today, I think I'll be taking some pictures of the crazy people that are my family...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Images of Forest Grove..

As promised, a happier post than Mondays. A little later than intended, but I went out tonight and talked with my chaplain. Thats right, I have my very own personal chaplain. Not a priest, minister, rabbi or pastor, a chaplain. Technically, he’s a fellow patron at my favorite watering hole, but we toss back a few and get philosophical.
The trip, very nice. Except....
It finally cleared up the day I was leaving. Figures.
Also, I didnt have my camera with me at the most picturesque moments. Like when I woke up to find 5 deers making breakfast of the front lawn.
But, here is the view from the patio.....

And the bird feeder I helped Grandpa build when I was about 11. Actually, it was more like “Hey Ness, hand me that piece of wood.” and “Hey Ness, hand me that nail.”

Also, Grandpa has a new weather vane that is so cute I just had to take a picture of it. A deer kissing a kitty, awww....

Heres the view from the top of the driveway...

Saturday night we had a BAD storm with 40 mph winds. Sunday morning my uncle woke me up so that I could help clear out two 100 foot trees that had been knocked over in the storm. Heres some of the aftermath of the storm -my uncle was monitoring a controlled burn of some of the debris. You can BARELY make him out to the right of the tree without trees. At this point we’d already cleared out the trunk of the tree and were burning the branches that wouldnt be suitable for indoor firewood. In the foreground to the left is my grandpas dog, Daisy Mae.

The house...

And, where would we be without some gratuitous kitty pictures?
This is Bitsy, my grandmas kitty. She’s so cute, she doesnt meow. She squeaks.

And this is Bucky. Grandpas kitty. Bucky thinks he’s a dog in that he likes to follow Grandpa through the woods while he goes out and works.

No worries, both cats are kept indoors at night so that they are kept safe from coyotes and other wildlife.
I did get to do some shopping while I was there....
There was a great sale at the local Craft Warehouse so I picked up 4 skeins of Cascade Yarns Peruvian Highland Wool - 1 charcoal grey, 1 light grey and 2 black. A new set of jewelers pliers. 6 skeins of Indulge Yarns wool.

A sweater with matching scarf from Ross, 3 new DVDs - Guess Who, Crash, and Hotel Rwanda (they were 3 for $25 at Hollywood Video), and a Starbucks coffee mug.

A messenger bag (its the perfect size to hold my laptop) and silver photo frame from a local thrift shop. Some beads (red and clear) and Takumi bamboo knitting needles from Craft Warehouse.

This is my Uncle Ron. He rents the downstairs portion of the house from my grandparents and helps them out around the place. He likes to claim that I was a complete hellian as a small child and says that he’s suprised I’ve “turned out okay and am not the dicator of a communist country by now.”

And my grandparents. I adore them. Technically they are my mothers exhusbands parents. My mom and step dad married when I was 3 years old and divorced 10 years ago, but theyve never referred to me as anything other than their oldest granddaughter. Grandmas hair has grown back in some. Whats weird is that her hair has always been straight and although you can’t tell in the photo, it’s growing back CURLY. I’ve heard that this is common after chemotherapy though. I crocheted a “chemo cap” for her out of Classic Elite Yarns Lush Angora Wool blend that is SO soft and cuddly, but... i forgot to take a picture of it. I’m about 1/2 way through a scarf I’m knitting for her. This is my very first knitting project ever and my tension is a little wonky, but its coming along okay. I’ll post pictures of that when I’m done.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I’m on my way home, sitting at the Portland airport and enjoying a chai latte while I wait for my flight.
All in all it was a good trip, I got to visit my grandparents and relax. Those are always good things. It stormed every day I was here, so we stayed in for the most part. Saturday night the storm was so bad that it knocked down two 100 foot trees on the road so I did get to participate in some heavy duty clean up on Sunday.
Although it was a good trip, it was also a hard one that has taken an emotional toll on me. My grandma has inoperable cancer and has been on chemotherapy for 14 months now. I last saw her eight months ago and she had lost a little bit of weight at that point, maybe 10 lbs., and would get tired after being up & doing stuff around the house after about 30 minutes or so and she’d lost her hair, but overall she was doing alright and looked okay. I was not prepared for how she’s doing now. Shes down to 100 lbs, is tired after walking to the bathroom, sleeps 12 or more hours a day and spends most of the rest of the day lying on the couch. I wasnt ready to see her this weak and fatigued. She’s always been so energetic and gregarious. Every time I’ve come up here to visit her before we’ve always done at least one day of “marathon shopping”. We went shopping Saturday, but after walking into the store and looking through two clothing racks, she was spent.
Her spirits are still up, but her body is slowing down.
The slower pace of this trip allowed me to really see in depth the tenderness between my grandparents that I’ve only caught little glimpses of before.
Both were raised on farms in south western Nebraska, and my Grandpa was raised with the belief that you show your love of your family by providing for them. Giving them a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table. Although he’s retired from GTE (now Verizon) he’s returned to his farming roots and raises trees here outside of Portland so every time I’ve been up here to visit he’s still outside working to be sure to provide for his wife although their retirement savings are sufficient. This trip, I can see that he has slowed down his own pace to match that of grandma. In the mornings, he gets up and makes his pot of coffee and does some of the household chores and drives down to the mailboxes to pick up the newspaper. After he’s back, once he hears Grandma start to wake up he makes her a pot of tea and toast for breakfast. Throughout the day he also makes her lunch, dinner, and snacks since the Dr. would like to see her put some weight back on before she starts her next round of chemotherapy. He calls her “Beautiful”, “Gorgeous”, and my favorite, “Lovey”.
In addition to the cancer, Grandma also has Macular Degeneration. She can still see well enough to read large signs, but can no longer read the books that she has always loved - even in large print. Every night, Grandpa will read to her so that she can still enjoy the stories that she has always loved.
Its good to know that after 50-some-odd years of marriage they still share this tenderness and affection for one another. But at the same time I’m heartbroken. I know that the love they have for one another is infinite, but these moments of tenderness and caring are finite. Thats been the hardest part about this trip. This weekend I saw my grandfather cry for the first time that I can ever remember. He said that he’s not ready to say goodbye to his wife. Thats been the hardest part of this trip. Seeing how much of a toll this illness has taken on both my grandma and my grandpa.