six years, four tips, one giveaway :: celebration of a rescue

•July 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment


Six years ago today, we almost lost our then-3 year-old son in a sand hole collapse at Santa Rosa Beach, in Florida. He fell into a hole dug by other children, and the sand collapsed on top of him, burying him completely, with his head at least 8 inches under the surface. Miraculously, he survived. You can read the full story here , with follow-up here . And read about it from the amazing perspective of Erika Wieland, the woman who saved his life, here .

Our little lion and his twin brother are now 9 years old. They both remember the accident, and speak about it freely. None of us takes for granted the gift we were given that day at the beach.

After our accident, I learned that sandhole collapses are a more frequent…

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Hello world!

•October 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Initiating transfer in 3, 2, 1….

Sideshow Bob

•November 6, 2006 • 2 Comments

When our good friends Jerry and Nat moved west to Chicago, they left behind a few houseplants simply because it would have been impossible to drive *that* far with semi-fragile houseplants and Monty-dog wagging his tail. Reluctantly, Nat left her beloved Sideshow Bob fern in our care. No sooner had the toot of her horn audibly faded than I whipped out the brand new pots and the bags of potting soil procured just for this occasion and went to work–while she left us only Bob specifically, I’d taken it upon myself to rescue two other plants that had been left on the the former E-B front porch.

When I first transplanted these cousins to Audrey II, I was positive that this would be the first and last time for such a task. I mean, in the case of the root-bound fern, how much larger could it grow? And for the little two other scraggly plants–moving on up from an 8-inch pot to a 16-inch pot… Well, that was plant life if ever there was such a thing!

The three plants flourished in their new abode and when we flew west to visit the good doctor and her cheese snob husband, we brought along a rather large portion of the beloved fern. Two years since being left in our care, and not only do I need to repot these plants, but I actually need to divide them! Behold, Sideshow Bob, the wonder fern, and his Simpsons-in-waiting, Lisa and Maggie:

What’s my green thumb secret to doubling, tripling, and then doubling plant growth? Absolutely nothing. Seriously, we move Bob and the kids out back after the last threat of frost and bring Bob and the kids in before the first hard frost, and pretty much water the plants once a week or so in the winter, letting nature take care of business in the summer.

This spring, I will definitely be splitting the plants and repotting them. Bob could actually be (drawn and) quartered, while Lisa could be thirded, and the wee Maggie could get away with being halved. Until then, though, I’ll have to do what I can to make sure the plants don’t eat the cat.

As promised: new sock stash

•November 4, 2006 • 1 Comment

If you were to ask me how I identifed as a knitter, I’d have to say sock-knitter. Yes, I make sweaters and scarves and hats and shawls and all of that, but there’s something about the knitting of a sock that really roots me in the craft. So it was no surprise that when I went to Rhinebeck, I sought out sock yarns in interesting colorways and small production–for the benefit of my beer-snob husband, fiber fests are the equivalent of microbrew beer fests. You like Stone IPA, dear; I like Socks That Rock:

STR in Downpour, a lovely mix of greys, pinks, and other muted shades. Our gang did the right thing by rolling into Rhinebeck early–even with time to spare before the official opening of the grounds, the booth at The Fold was a MESS. By the time we’d all had our fill of STR and moseyed around the rest of Building A (avoiding the gem and mineral half of things), the line at STR was obscene.

The Fold being our first booth, and I having never knit with STR, I carefully only purchased one hank of the yarn… and then I was distracted by the Brooks Farm booth:

That’s 540 yards of FourPlay sale yarn in creams, tans, and pinks. It’s not sock yarn, but I’m sure you all can handle this temporary distraction. I’m envisioning a frilly wrap, maybe the Ruffles and Ridges wrap from MagKnits.

Also in Building A was the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth and my good friend Anj was (wo)manning it. Still being too early in the game for me and operating on a strict budget, I made a mental note of what I might want, fondled stuff I’d never buy, made lunch plans with mi’lady, and then hit the next stop on our list.

At Great Adirondack, Jody and I picked up almost the exact same sock yarn–she got Antique and I got what I like to call Malt Likka:

It’s actually named Old English and maybe not all of you will get that joke… I envision these socks as Jaywalkers–the pattern explains the name as an homage to the street-crossing in Boston, but I think it’ll work as “socks that show how you might walk after you drink a 40 of the malt likka”.

One of the smaller booths I patronized had lovely handpainted sock yarn and for CHEAP! This is Dorchester, and I imagine it one day becoming a manly pair of socks… Socks with balls, perhaps?

The colors are rich, reminding me of a leather-furnished study. I expect these socks to smoke cigars or drink port. Perhaps I’ll call them Richard Gilmore.

At Ellen’s 1/2 pint, I resisted the urge to go completely batshit and buy the whole lot (partially because there were a couple of ladies that were blocking the true and only way to sock yarn. Continuing with that complaint, these were the same ladies that pretty much blocked shoppers from getting closer to the sock yarn in another booth: they sat on the barn floor–ew–and proceeded to remove every hank of sock yarn in a desperate search for an exact colorway match. Had I not been promised a vodka tonic for good behavior, I might have Hulked out on them…), and instead got out of there with just one measly hank of sock yarn:

Call it what you want, but this is banana split in my book. The creamy yellows, cherries, and vanillas, with some grey-blue and brown interspersed, makes me think of summer nights at the custard stand on route 40. If my dad could pull off yellow socks, these would be for him. Instead, I’d like to think that they will be MINE, ALL MINE.

My last purchase at the fest was one that I found I couldn’t deny at day’s end:

This is Peach Trees from Maple Creek (located in Telford, PA) and over the course of two days, I picked it up, fondled, stroked, and otherwise molested this yarn no fewer than a dozen times. As I’d walk around the yarn display in the booth, my eyes would light upon another gorgeous hand-dyed skein and I’d chuckle as I turned over the tag and found out that I was yet again looking at the Peach Trees colorway. I resisted the urge on Saturday, knowing that we had our second chances on Sunday. Sunday I told myself: if Spirit Trail has nothing I want, then it’ll be Maple Creek. I was actually relieved that ST had run out of any yarn in which I was interested because MAN, I’d’ve hated to not been able to get the Maple Creek.

Now, the question is: when will all this sock yarn (and the BFF) get knit up? All I can say is, “Who the fuck knows?” I may die with an intact sock yarn stash, but I will die happy!!!

Finally, for JT Evans and everyone else that knows my cat only as the vet-diagnosed “Meanest Cat in World”, here’s another picture of Chico not gnawing on anyone’s leg or trapping people in our bathroom:

In his old age (10 1/2 years!), he’s becoming quite the heat-seeking kitty. It doesn’t help that we have the thermostat set to 55 overnight, 62 during the day… Knowing that this old bastard of a cat likes nothing more than to curl up into a ball in the sun, Mike and I moved our bed last night so that it is now under a window that gets strong morning sun. Tomorrow I’ve got plans to make like a cat and seek out that sunny spot myself.


•November 3, 2006 • 1 Comment

I’m in the middle of a fairly large collection development project here at work and I spend most of my day in the stacks, shifting, pulling, and shelving material. Yesterday, as I worked on a shelf of fiction, pulling the books out and preparing to relocate them, I found an empty bag of Cheetos. Now, of course, I can’t look at a bag of Cheetos without hearing the Cheetos Story in my head. And while I tell a decent second-hand version of the story, only Missy does it best. And no, I’m not telling the Cheetos story now because it’s really something best told in the company of others.

However, I may one day share the story of the Rakist or I might tell the story of how my father came to love squirrels, but first he had to hate them.

Crafticus Interruptus

•November 2, 2006 • Leave a Comment

We’ve been busy here in the land of Sparksalot, and most of the time we’re focusing ourselves on things that, well, need to fall back out of focus. Still, I’m finding some time in-between the chaos to sit and stitch.

Last Saturday, my Mom came up from NJ and she and I hit the Northeast Extension, headed for Tannersville, PA. While at Hershey this year (and I think last year, too), we met Jan, the owner of Mimi’s Attic. We learned on Jan’s site that she had a number of Saturday Sit ‘n’ Stitches, and so we signed up just about as soon as we returned from Hershey. By last Saturday, Mom had a list of things she just absolutely needed to have and Jan’s shop was just the thing for her shopping list. While Mom shopped, relentlessly, I finished the second Red Hat sock, unceremoniously tossing the pair at her once I kitchenered the last loops, saying, “Here–a present.” I was so quick to give them to her that I didn’t get a picture! Note to self–get picture from Mom of her socks.

With the sock out of the way (and another FO to add to the list, hooray!), I set about working on another present for Mom:

This is a pattern from The Drawn Thread that I picked up in Hershey ’05. It’s something that for all the years my Mom’s attended the stitching festival, she’s wanted to buy the pattern but always managed to talk herself out of it. You know how that goes–“Yeah, I really want it, but I don’t have the time to make it, and I’ve got all this other stuff to do still… If it’s here next year, then maybe…” Except next year is just a repeat of the previous year, with the added, “If I really wanted it so much, I would have bought it last year.” Putting an end to this hooey, I snagged the pattern and the floss kit and told Mom she just needs to get over it already.

I started stitching this piece in late summer (I’m very bad with noting things, like dates and pattern modifications–the second being something bites my ass whenever I take a vacation between knitting each sock in a pair) and it’s progressing faster than I’d expected. Aside from the delicate stems along the border, I have flowers yet to stitch. I’m hesitant to get to that point, though, since the flowers involve French knots, and well, I’m not a fan of French knots. In fact, I once wrote of French knots: va te faire foutre. I didn’t win over any French knot enthusiasts, but then again, FKE’s can be an odd lot. I’ll get over my French knot issues, I’m sure. Or, I’ll secretly replace every charted French knot with a tiny glass bead.

I’ve also started some Christmas stitching. This is a piece I’m working on for my grandmother:

I’ve got a couple of complaints with this particular kit. One, the instructions are not clearly written. There have been several times when I’ve read and reread the instructions and then called my Mom to ask, “What the hell does this mean?” Mom’s been equally stumped and the two have us have come to the conclusion that Lorri Birmingham doesn’t write the best instructions… No offense, Miss B–your designs are pretty awesome and I’ve enjoyed taking your classes over the last few years, but you leave a little bit too much to the stitcher’s imagination. Two, there are obviously 4 teacups (see here), one for each season. The floss came pre-cut and separated into four hanks. Stupidly, I figured each hank represented a season, but as I sorted the floss I quickly discovered that there was no logical explanation for the four hanks other than it might have made the task of sorting pearl white and light gray pearl slightly easier since the two colors were in separate hanks. But still! Third, I have suspicions that even diligently and meticulously sorted, I’ve managed to mis-sort some of the floss. When I compare my work in progress with the image on the kit, something just looks off. Of course, and this is number four, I’m also pretty sure that the sample photographed for the kit IS NOT stitched using the same colors supplied with the kit. Fifthly, I’ve always heard x-stitchers marvel and maim about Teresa Wentzler’s patterns. My Mom calls her a nasty person, but my Mom’s friend Laura swears by the TW designs. The main criticism here is that TW uses a lot of blended fibers–you know, a strand of DMC 304 paired with a strand of DMC 378. I don’t rightly know if those two even go together, but the point is, many people find this blending to be a pain in the ass (no matter if they like the designs or the actual stitching, it’s just something that slows down stitching progress since it involves pulling two floss bobbins for one chart symbol. I know, woe is me.). And while Lorri Birmingham’s Tea for All Seasons doesn’t call for blended fibers, it does call for an awful lot of stop and go stitching. In the Summer tea cup (in my photo, it’s the one that is 97% complete), there’s a point on the rim of the tea cup that was charted as being various shades of blue (ok, it gives a nice effect), white, and then this random single BROWN cross-stitch. I suppose what I’m complaining about here is that for a relatively small project and for something that looked simple in the package, this little piece is proving to be time-consuming. Will I finish it? Of course–it’s a gift. Will I rush out to replicate the pattern in another stitching project? DON’T BET ON IT. When this thing is done, I’m shoving the leaflet in the very back of my craft closet and then forgetting about it.

Next up, more posts about Rhinebeck: Sock Stash, and an update on home appliances.

Take a look it’s on display, for you

•October 25, 2006 • Leave a Comment

While in Rhinebeck, the land of rolling hills, strolling alpacas, and the House of Fun, I picked up four skeins of icy blue lace weight yarn:

Jody and the girls seemed to think that the yarn would knit up nicely as Seraphim, and I have to admit I’m inclined to agree. BUT, I also like this one. I’ve a floating date with Anj to look at other shawl patterns, though to be honest, I’m not in any rush to start just yet. Which reminds me… I want to sort of catalog my stash and evaluate projects-in-waiting. That’ll be a fun afternoon!!!

Next up: more scores from Rhinebeck. Yes, I am going to drag it out like this, and I’ll tell you why: I’m on a self-imposed yarn diet. No yarn purchases until Mike graduates. Place your bets as to when I’ll cave, fuckers!