Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Preparing to Prepare the Way

When I was in junior high, I took a trip with the Girl Scouts. We went to Washington DC by bus, spent a couple of nights at an east coast Girl Scout Camp, went to the beach, and the only thing I remember REALLY well was going to Ford's Theater for a live performance of Godspell. The lights went down, and the curtain did not rise. Not right away. Instead, a rope appeared over the audience and the character of John the Baptist descended the rope, singing out


The rest of the performance was wonderful, the whole trip was one of those rites of passage and life experiences that every child should have sometime, but still, the high point for me was animal-skin-clad John and his exhortation to PREPARE.

Perhaps I have taken those instructions a bit too much to heart.

At our house, it is very nearly the Season of the Advent Calendars.

I could blame it all on my Grandmother Stone, known as "Nana" to my generation. When I was about 8 and brother Andrew was about 3, Nana gave us a simple paper Advent calendar, 25 little doors, with a design of angels and children, well encrusted with silver glitter. Andrew and I traded the "opening duties" for the whole month of December, and after Christmas, carefully closed all the little doors and stored the calendar away.

We re-used that little calendar for years, to the point where we had memorized the order of the hidden pictures, and to this day, I can see in my mind's eye December 1 (striped ball), December 2 (sail boat), December 3 (red scooter).

Nana had no idea what she was starting.

Andrew and I eventually had other calendars which I remember clearly, but the tradition really took off when I had my own children. Over the past 20 years, the Advent Calendar Ritual has become a sacred part of December (disregard, for the moment, the fact that Advent does not necessarily begin on December 1 each year, and just play along with the popular culture for now). Some of our Advent traditions require a fair amount of preparation themselves...Mom spends several hours in advance of December 1 preparing to prepare, as it were.

There's only one child still at home now, but he needn't worry. The tradition will continue. Mom has already been preparing to prepare the way.

Check back in on December 1.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Add another James Bond movie to the "Yep, seen it" list.

"Casino Royale" came out last weekend, and Alex called from school a few days before to see if we could see it together. The cynic in me might suspect that this was because there was a good possibility that if he went with us, we might well buy his ticket (and perhaps throw in a lunch or dinner to boot) but the truth is that we've been seeing James Bond together for a long time.

The movie didn't disappoint; there were all of the great things we have come to expect from Fleming, Broccoli et al. Suspense, intrigue, beautiful women, wicked men and all too often it's hard to tell who is good and who is bad until it's nearly too late. No, I've no complaints about the movie experience, and despite the general familial agreement that there will never be another Bond as fine as Sean Connery, life does move forward and we take our new Bonds as they come.

James Bond is just one of those things that tie us together. These things aren't planned; sometimes they just happen. When Alex was 2 and Isaac was a newborn, we survived a rough three months with a colicky baby by rocking the baby for 2 hours each evening and watching every James Bond or Sean Connery movie we could rent from the local video store. Alex wouldn't remember that, indeed, he was probably already in bed by the time the screamings ... er ... screenings ...began, but somewhere about age 12, we began to invite him along when a new Bond movie came to the theaters.

James Bond. Preserved frogs in a jar. Vampires and Zombie movies. Book stores. Cats with no tails. Sushi bars. The perfect mechanical pencil. Sock monkeys. Spritz cookies. The ties that bind. Bonded.

Sweaters for CIC - November

The October/November challenge for CIC was "Sweaters and vests". These three are all worked from the bottom up, in the round, on 120 stitches (sleeves on the blue/white sweater had stitches picked up around the armhole and worked down).

Monday, November 20, 2006

With thanks to my daughter

Not thanks to her FOR these, because I made them, but thanks to her for introducing me to the "Knit-a-Cus" in the first place! Handy little gadget, and a good excuse to look for new beads.

(How it works: Start with all beads at the end away from the hanging charm and the elastic beaded slide next to the charm. As each row is knitted, move one bead past the elastic slide. When 10 rows are finished, move 9 beads back and move one of the other color of bead past the slide to represent "10". The bracelet will count up to 99 rows)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Class Act(ion)

Evidently, Elizabeth has been involved in a class action lawsuit. I'm not clear on all of the details, but it involves some online ordering of flowers that may or may not have been taken place between 2001 and 2006. As a result, she has been given some discounts on future online orders of flowers, and last week the company upped the ante a bit with an additional offer of chocolates and a free vase.

I had no idea this was in the works until the doorbell rang last Thursday and I found that the Big Brown Truck had left me a package. Of flowers. Flowers in a box, what a concept. 100 blossoms (or so promised the online information at Elizabeth's end) of Peruvian Lilies, sent to me because they were Fall colors, and Elizabeth knows that even after 20 years in Texas, I still miss Fall.

She's a class act, that one.

The chocolates were pretty great, too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No swatch, No Gauge Mittens for Kids

Intended for Charity Knitting
"Every pair will fit some child!"

Materials needed: Yarn and double point needles to make a dense fabric of 4-6 stitches per inch. The mittens pictured used the following needles and yarns:

1. Worsted weight yarn, Size 5 needles.
2. Two strands of fingering weight yarn held together, Size 4 needles.
3. 3-ply tapestry yarn, Size 6 needles (with a simple knit and purl pattern stitch).
4. One strand fingering weight, one strand sport weight held together, Size 5 needles.
5. Worsted weight yarn, Size 5 needles
6. Heavy worsted weight yarn, Size 6 needles
7. 3-ply tapestry yarn, Size 6 needles

Download the pattern here

"Pardon, your slip is showing"

Wasn't that the title of a column in "Reader's Digest"? Maybe it still is.

I heard the best one in a long time last night while watching the local election returns. The newscaster was preparing to segue into the concession speech given by one of the hopefuls in the race for Governor.

"In just a moment we will take you to the XYZ Hotel where ABC will admit Conceit"

Friday, November 03, 2006


ab‧er‧ra‧tion  [ab-uh-rey-shuhn]
1. the act of departing from the right, normal, or usual course.

arb‧or‧ra‧tion  [arb-oh-rey-shuhn]
1. the tree in the front yard

I'm not quite sure what to think about that tree.

That's a Bradford Pear, and we have four of them scattered over the front yard (also some holly bushes...I won't make that mistake again...but the pear trees? I'm very fond of the pear trees). This being central Texas, "Fall Colors" are not exactly something you travel 1000 miles to see, but every now and then, a tree surprises you.

Every other Bradford Pear in the yard is still brilliantly green, and if past years are any indication we can expect bright orange and red leaves just in time for the New Year's Eve celebration. For some inexplicable reason, though, this one tree has decided to buck the system. I might consider that it was thinking about dying (it's been a very hot and dry summer) but for the fact that 3 weeks ago, it startled me with springlike blossoms. Not many, but just enough to remind me that I do know what Spring looks like. I seem to have a tree with whacked out hormones, at the least.

I'm intrigued by this tree. It reminds me very much of all three of my children. None of them has ever cared much for what the other trees are doing. They have always marched to their own drummers, followed their own stars, and their leaves have always turned red and orange on their own schedules. When they decided the time was right, no other leaves shone brighter.

I'd like to think that they saw that trait in their parents and considered it good. I know I admire it greatly in them.