Friday, July 31, 2009

Trashcans, skunks, and mice

I follow a blog called Joansie's last entry dealt with the foils of management and office wastepaper baskets. I had a good chuckle and then was reminded of a few wastepaper baskets and trash can stories of my own. The first one happened when the children were small.

Both the children's father and I were working and thus had a come-to-the-home babysitter, named Mrs. Howard. Mrs. Howard was not a well educated woman, but she had a good heart and educational over stimulation of children was not in vogue as yet. Children were still allowed to play away summer vacations. One thing, Mrs. Howard had, however, was wisdom. One day, as she went outside, she heard a commotion in the trash can which stood by the back door. The story is told that she opened up the trash can, found a mama skunk and her babies trying to get out. She gently put the lid back on, called the three kids, showed them the skunk family, and then gently carried the trash can to the edge of the woods and put it on it's side so the mama skunk and babies could get out. All this was done without the skunk spraying anyone. Do you think mama skunk could tell that Mrs. Howard had no ill will towards them? Unfortunately, this was before the time of digital cameras and obsessive picture taking, so no photos exist of the event, only the memory of three excited children when we came home.

The second story happened at work. At that time, I worked as an executive secretary for a subsidiary of Babcock & Wilcox. I had just been promoted and the vice president for which I was working had a reputation of being slightly unreasonable. He had gone through eight secretaries in 6 months. By that time we had made peace which each other in front of a terrified sales manager, in other words he learned quickly that this German was not going to cave in and started listening to me. "Anyhow", this man who terrified grown men, came out of his office one day with his waste paper basket in his hands, babbling over and over again, "Renate, what do I do with this?" I finally told him sternly, "I can't tell what to do with 'this' until you tell me what 'this' is. So this 6'2" man came around my desk and finally showed me the contents of his waste basket: a wee field mouse. I suggested to him, he may want to take the basket outside and lay it on its side so the wee mouse could get away. Problem solved.

As an aside, I know some folks get freaked out by these little critters, but I live in the country and mice come into the house during the winter and keep our two cats in shape. It's a good thing I don't freak easily as you can see by this photo. Unfortunately, the photo is not very good, but then getting a picture of a mouse hanging for dear life onto the living room curtain rod is not an easy thing. Particularly, since one of the cats tried to climb up the curtain.

That's the top of the lace curtain with the mouse peeking over it.

I'm slowly progressing on my shawl. I already have 540 stitches on the needle and the yarn is cobweb weight. I'm also halfway done with the second sock of the "Broken Dreams" socks.

So knit on merrily.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How Socks #10 got finished

I have had two bad days in a row. Between two days worth of migraines and a night of dreaming in which I was at work again and driving a car, I am in somewhat of a funk. My car accident several years ago and having to take medical retirement from work, after being attacked, continue to haunt me. These two incidents were ultimately the trigger that brought back all the experiences from WWII. In other words every fiber in my body and every neurotransmitter in my brain said "we've had it."

Themes of working or driving in my dreams always lead to nightmares, and the two together at the same time really throw me into a tailspin. Thus I was wide awake with a panic attack at 3:30 a.m.. Since I couldn't go back to sleep, I finished up the second sock of a thank you gift for a friend who was kind enough to haul the turkeys to the butcher. The truth is: they are the most expensive turkeys this family has ever eaten, so they better taste good.

Luckily I still remember how to cook a turkey without a pop-up thingie or saline solution in it. Think of it, at least us "older" folks, there may be a whole generation out there, that has never tasted a turkey that wasn't loaded with a saline solution or didn't have a pop-up timer in it to tell the cook the turkey is done. What deprivation we have experienced! (I think my sense of humor is coming back.) And think of it, it all started with Hamburger Helper and Pop Tarts.

In any event, the socks are finished, washed and blocked and can go to its recipient tomorrow. The pattern is Yarn Harlot's "Earl Grey" and the yarn is Regia, 4 ply, hunter or forest green.

Knit on merrily and thanks for letting me share my crummy night. I feel better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Socks #9...

...or what did you do to my mother? I've knit a pair of Stinos (stinking ordinary socks) for one of my daughters. She likes them this way. I, on the other hand, like socks with patterns. So when she saw me knitting these, she wondered out loud what had happened to her mother. Nothing really, I liked the colorway in the yarn and felt the socks didn't need anything else. The yarn is Meilenweit and the color sequence is Sunset. Of course, one of the chickens, aka Mama, had to get into the picture.
This is the ninth pair for the 52 pairs of sock plunge. Since I am ahead a bit, I am going to dedicate the rest of the week to my shawl Knit-Along that I started last month. After knitting all these socks, the yarn for the Shawl feels like thin thread, the consistency of cooked, slippery linguine.

Knit on merrily.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What happens when an inveterate sock knitter gets cold in the middle of summer

I mentioned in my previous post that it was so cold in the middle of summer that I had to wear unmatched socks to keep my feet warm. Well, for posterity and that you all can have a good laugh, here is a picture of my sock clad feet.

Knit on merrily.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Socks No. 7 and 8

I can't believe it. It's July 18th and I am sitting in my house wearing sweats, long sleeved top and mismatched socks. After all it's Summer and I was not prepared to have to haul out socks. It's been in the 50s for most of the week and at night the temperatures have fallen as low as 40 degrees F. I have completed socks no. 7 and 8 for the 52 pairs sock plunge. I finished the Berlin socks and a pair of children's socks for any upcoming campaign for afghans for Afghans. Sooner or later they will need socks again, and I'll be ready. So here are the photos without further ado.
Knit on merrily.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pair No. 7

I am knitting the 7th pair of adult socks for the 52 socks in 52 weeks challenge. I think the yarn came from Webs and was hand dyed by my daughter some time ago. It was originally used in a test knit, but the pattern in the second sock looked nothing like the pattern in the first one. On top of that I had lost my place on the second sock and since the first sock was different I couldn't compare the two to see where I goofed up. So this became one of those rare occasions when I "frogged" both socks. (I can normally live with minor differences, but this was even too much for me.) The yarn was resurrected in this pair.

The pattern is called "Berlin." It was designed by Kristin Benecken for a trip to Berlin by a group of knitters. Not too sure how this works, but I am reasonably sure that it works like some of our car trips to fiber festivals or yarn stores in a different town except these trips are done by train. It is a fairly easy pattern of 16 rows, but not a pattern which can be knit automatically. The pattern is free and can be found on Ravelry together with some of Kristin's other patterns.
Knit on merrily.

Cultural Differences...

...or why I feel less connected to American culture the older I get.

I realize this may be a squeamish subject for many Americans, but the subject once again has pointed out the difference in my outlook on life than that of the "average" American. Not that either one is better than the other--just different.

I’ve been listening to the news on the looting of the Chicago cemetery and the resale of the grave sites. It is a criminal act and, therefore, should be prosecuted. I feel for the victims of this destruction.

Nevertheless let me share the practices in my little corner of the Northern Black Forest from whence I come. The valleys are narrow and the sides of the mountains steep, so space is at a premium. The last time I was in Germany was at my mother’s funeral. I looked for my grandparents’ grave, but couldn’t find it. In its place were the grave stones of one of my uncles, my grandparents’ son with a space for his wife. I looked at the only sibling left and asked “what’s up?” She looked at me somewhat curiously and stated in a matter of fact manner that space is at a premium and grave sites can only be rented for 40 years at which time the bones and headstones are discarded and someone else is buried on the site. In other words “deal with it.” In fact, the 2004 rules and regulations for the cemetery of Bad Teinach state that individuals must be buried in a biodegradable manner. No burial vaults allowed. (I looked it up on the Internet, no kidding.)

This is basically a non-practicing Protestant area where you see the inside of the church perhaps three times in your life time--at baptism, at confirmation, and at your wedding (after the State has married you). At your funeral, the pastor of the local church comes to your grave site and holds the funeral services. Yet, why are we as practicing Christians so concerned with our remaining bones being desecrated?

If, after all, our soul (spirit, essentially that what makes us "us") leaves the body, then the body is merely a convenient shell, like the shell of a snail which eventually gets discarded. Wouldn’t it make more sense for non-believers to want to hold on to a space where they can visit their loved ones? Psalm 131 in one of the translations seems to state it best: “I don’t involve myself in matters too great for me.” Biblical scholars will most likely point out to me that I am misapplying these words, but nevertheless it has been a good guidepost for me.

I find the burial practices of my home village much more to my liking. You'll not find green carpet on the ground, no canopy, no chairs around the grave, just relatives and friends standing together around the grave and saying good bye to the skin and bones that once held the person's being. In my mother's case we threw pine boughs into the grave rather than dirt, but then we were surrounded by our beloved pine forests. So nothing could have been more apt. And as the final blessings were said, either by design or by accident, the sounds of an Alpenhorn came across the valley. A memory that will always be special for me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pair No. 6

Knitting: Well, pair no. 6 of the 52 pairs of socks between June 2009 and May 2010 is finished. As stated previously it is a pattern from Favorite Socks - 25 Classic Patterns from Interweave. One of these days I must take an inventory of all the sock books I own. I know it's way too many and maybe I really don't want to know how many sock books I have and how much they cost.

The cable pattern for the sock is an easy knit, TV friendly, but is very dense and has little give. They are for my daughter and Angie will test the quality of the yarn. So far the only yarn she has not been able to wear out is Opal sock yarn. Her wearing of the socks should also tell us how good the wicking action of the yarn is.

Now what will pair no. 7 look like? I wonder.

Update on the turkeys: They are ready to be butchered. After researching the butchering process of turkeys on the Internet and reading various blog writers' experiences with the process, I've decided they are going to the butcher. As much as I hate to have to pay someone, there is no way I can handle such large birds by myself and the above named daughter, aka Valley6222 on the Internet, refuses to help. She will eat them, but will not help with the butchering. What has the world come to? There really is a disconnect between where food comes from and eating it. Of course that also means that the cooking of such birds has to be different. You can't just turn the oven on and shove them in. These birds are not injected with saline/oil solutions; they will actually need seasoning and proper basting. I can't wait.

On the chicken front, several of the chickens are helping with sitting on the eggs. Hopefully some of the clutch will hatch. My suspicion is that the hens lay their eggs next to the chickens that are sitting and the circle of eggs to be sat on grows larger every day. We'll see. One week to go and then if the eggs have not hatched, I will have to remove them.
It's time to feed the chickens and then back to knitting.
Knit on merrily.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Uptown Boot Socks

I've owned Favorite Socks - 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave for some time, but have never knit any socks from it. So I remedied the situation and am knitting Jennifer Appleby's Uptown Boot Socks. While it's a cable pattern, it's almost brainless since the pattern consists of the same 4 stitch, left leaning cable and 4 knit stitches, offset every 4 rows. The yarn is Schoeller and Stahl's Fortissima Socka. The yarn is 60% wool and 40% Polypropylene. Supposedly the yarn wicks moisture away from the body and thus keeps feet dry and warm. If it actually works, this yarn would be ideal for hiking socks. The yarn was on sale; what else can I say.

Knit on merrily.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Masked Ball in Venice - Part I

I've finished the first clue of the "Masked Ball in Venice", just in time for clue 2 to be published tomorrow. It's a fun knit. Looks much more difficult than it is. I am always amazed what can be created with "yarn overs and knit two together." The design is from Monika Eckert, a German designer. I love to knit, but have absolutely no talent to design something like this. First you have to be able to draw. My drawing ability is almost zero. No kidding! I once drew a birthday cake and it turned out like a tuna can. The yarn, Cashwool from Baruffa is a delight to work with.

Now I have a whole day to knit on my socks before the new clue comes out.

Knit on merrily.