Friday, May 30, 2008

Random Thursday

I can't believe that May is nearly over already. Man, it flew by. School will be done in 2 weeks, the pool is open already, camp payments are due, the piano recital is imminent, Mathboy's belt test is looming, and baseball and softball playoffs are right around the corner. Help!
In the midst of all the craziness, we have managed to get some stuff done around the house. Rich and Catgirl powerwashed the shed and the front porch this weekend. The patio was swept with sand. My garden fence this year is shorter but better-looking than it has been in prior years, and it is finally complete (I needed to get back to Home Depot for that last couple of feet). The annuals have been planted, so hopefully they'll be of a respectable size by the day of the croquet party.
kitchen garden in May
How does my garden grow? Slowly but surely, it seems. I have lettuce, carrots, broccoli, chard, tomatoes, herbs, a couple zucchini and some peppers in the kitchen garden as well as containers, and I finally can see some tangible growth in the plants as the weather is warming up.
Garden containers
Actually, I've been picking lettuce in small amounts for sandwiches and such, and that has made my inner farmgirl feel all warm and fuzzy. My own lettuce! :o)

I made a few quickie projects in honor of the weather. First, there were a couple water bottle carriers (Ravelry link to the pattern here), to make it easier to schlep around drinks.
We want to get some letterboxing and some bike rides in this summer, and we definitely notice that the amount of water we bring with us has a direct relationship to our enjoyment (and an inverse relationship to the amount of whining we must endure). Mathboy's carrier came in handy on his school camping trip. These were crocheted with dishcloth cotton, so they can be tossed in the washer and dryer.

We are trying to stick to reusable water bottles as much as possible from now on--I got tired of paying for cases of water and I got tired of our overflowing recycling can. I am also trying (trying!) to remember to bring canvas and other reusable shopping bags with me when I go to the store. I have a couple of purchased poly ones, but I saw a pattern for a string bag on the Internet and thought that might be even better: they should be easy to keep around as they can be scrunched up into tiny bundles when not in use and stretch to hold tons O' stuff. I knitted up this market bag in a few days, and it isn't bad for a first try, I think. I actually did disdressed's version of the pattern. If I make another I will make some changes of my own, including doing it in the round so I don't have to worry about the side seams (which were seriously annoying to do).
Saturday Market Bag
I squished 12 webkinz in here, and I think I could have fit more. Hoo-ee!

I finally finished Cat Crazy Girl's socks last week.
Slippery socks
The toes are a little too pointy, but she likes them anyway. I love the way this pattern looks, even the simplified one-panel version that I did here is nice. I think I would like to try it again. C's socks were done in Colinette Jitterbug in the Blue Parrot colorway. It is very pretty and I have a ton of it left. I'm not sure what to do with the leftovers, though. I am a little concerned about how this yarn will hold up, as I have heard some horror stories about the dye fading. We'll see.

I have also had several frogging adventures. I was working on Rich's socks, and even turned a heel, but frogged back to the middle of the foot. It just looked wrong. This is the second time I have had to frog back to the middle of the foot on these socks from h**l. It's just a plain sock, fps!

I also ended up frogging my Jeanie. It was painful, but I had to face facts. This yarn was NOT a good choice for this project--it stuck together dreadfully, making the dropping of stitches difficult and time-consuming. Worse, although the colors are beautiful, I hated the way they looked in the pattern. In my mind, this pattern really needs a solid or semi-solid colorway. And although I think Jeanie is lovely, I really feel like my recent clapotis met whatever need I may have had to make a drop-stitch shawl. Been there, done that. I don't really want to do it anymore. So I will rewind this skein and try to find a more suitable project for it.

I also had to rip out a couple of squares I worked on for the Great American Afghan, one because I realized I did not have enough yarn to finish the square and another because of a gauge disaster that I still don't understand. Even though I was getting gauge on that square, it was still turning out to be an inch and a half too wide. How does that happen?? Argh! So I ripped it out and I'll just start again with fewer stitches. It's annoying, though. So far, I have 4 squares done out of 25 . Here are a few:

I worked on Inishmore for a while, on some chilly nights when wool was still welcome in my lap. We sat out of the patio with the firepit blazing, some warm blankets wrapped around us, and the Phillies on the radio. But I'm still only 15 inches up the back, which is supposed to be 26 inches long. No picture, because it looks the same, just longer.

I started a couple new projects, trying to get some things done before the Summer of Socks begins. There is a secret gift project that I can't show here. It is veddy, veddy nice, though! And I started a summer top for myself with some yarn I bought for that purpose, um, maybe 2 years ago? Bad me.
Sweater for the ages begun
It's a Sweater for the Ages from the Yarn Girl's Guide to Beyond the Basics, and I am (gasp!) actually using the yarn recommended for the project, Artful Yarns Fable. This is a cotton and silk blend in a strange orange/coral and purply/brown blend. I can no longer remember quite why I bought this particular color. I am cautiously optimistic, however. So far, so good. It's good to have one project that is straight stockinette, and it should go quickly. The yarn is super splitty, though. Why do I keep choosing splitty yarn?

Monday, May 26, 2008

We Have Babies...

Hungry baby birds
Demanding little babies. As I was out in the backyard yesterday, I observed the harried mom make seemingly endless trips out for food and then back to the birdhouse to satisfy these seven hungry mouths. Honestly, I think she was constantly on the go for at least 2 hours. I know because the peeping that begins whenever she pokes her head in to the birdhouse is becoming so loud you can hear it all the way across the yard.

In the days since I took this picture, the birds' eyes have opened. We are all looking forward to flying lessons!

By the way, we are not totally sure what kind of birds these are, although Mathboy's best guess based on the quick glimpses we get of the mom is woodthrush.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The kids go to college, while the lawyers go to Disneyworld

My 20th college reunion was this past weekend. When I first started hearing about it a few months ago, I thought that I would really like to go. I had not been back to Wheaton since the day I collected my diploma, and I was interested in seeing what they had done with the place. Also, Dela's death last year made me think about how long it had been since I had seen the friends that were so important to me when I was in college. We had all been so close and had enjoyed a great four years together. It was sad that we had allowed so much time to go by without seeing each other. So I decided I wanted to go.

Then life got in the way. Rich advised me that the firm was going to have a retreat that weekend in Orlando, Florida, and that he had to go. So I decided that I couldn't go to reunion.

Then Jen sent around an email: Who's going to reunion? And I thought, why can't I go? So I'll have kids with me. So what? They'll enjoy it. And so the joke started: the lawyers are going to Disney, but the KIDS are going to COLLEGE.

The weather was not very cooperative on Friday. As Jen, Nancy, Shela, and the kids and I scurried from building to building trying not to get too wet, we forgot to take pictures. We attended a lecture in the science center, played some air hockey in the campus center, settled in to our dorm room in Meadows North (which was as dreary as I remember). Then we had a nice dinner (the food was always good at Wheaton) and went to the Chapel to hear the traditional pre-graduation concert of all the school's a capella singing groups. All in the pouring rain.

But Saturday turned out to be very nice, and I finally remembered to get out my camera. The kids and I were the only ones just hanging around on Saturday--Jen and Nancy had commitments and Shela was attending the graduation. We wandered, found a letterbox in the Wheaton woods,
and enjoyed the library. Mathboy loved the library. I don't think he realized libraries could be that big. We walked through the vast underground stacks, found him an encyclopedia of mammals to look through, and settled him down in one of the comfy chairs in the library tower under the skylights, and he was happy. I think Mathboy is going to like college, when he gets there, don't you?
Then we went to the bookstore. Mathboy was disappointed that they seemed to be out of actual college textbooks at the time (end of the year, sweetie, ya know?), but we got some nice souvenirs. Any Wheaton paraphernalia I had during my college years--and I will admit that there was a lot--is all gone at this point. I needed some new stuff. We also got some reading material for the kids, since they went through most of what we brought on Friday, and since we couldn't carry that encyclopedia of mammals around campus with us. :o)

On Sunday, we remembered to take some pictures of us. Here is one of me, Nancy and Jen, taken by either Mathboy or Catgirl--I am not sure.
I don't know why I am the only one not smiling. Maybe my lack of confidence in my kid's photographic skills? Oops.

Then the kids decided to go relax in the campus center. Here they are, with Jen's younger daughter. I think they've settled in pretty well, don't you?
It was wonderful to see everyone this weekend! I enjoyed meeting Jen's daughter, Nancy's husband and Shela's friend (now fiance!) Ron. I loved showing Wheaton off to my kids. It looked so wonderful. The school has made some very nice cosmetic improvements in the 20 years since I left, and I can confidently say that I am proud of it. The new athletic center is huge and very impressive, but it may have been the little things--like the new brick pathways everywhere and the outdoor tables, chairs and benches all over--that made the strongest impression on us. They made the campus seem so friendly, inviting, and just pretty.

I know that we students were all upset when the college first decided to go co-ed. But if that decision enabled the school to remain selective and keep the friendly atmosphere that I felt this weekend--as well as continue to bring in enough money to keep the school in the lovely condition I saw this weekend--then I think we all should concede that the decision was a good one. Yes, it would have been nice if it could have remained a women's college, but it was more important that it remain a good college.

Here is one last shot I took of Peacock Pond, as we were getting ready to leave. Even Chase Dining Hall, which is not one of the most beautiful sights on campus, looked really nice this weekend. On Saturday night, the wall around the pond was lined with luminaries, and there was a bonfire on a platform in the middle of the pond.
Wheaton College Pond
So the kids went to college, and they liked it. You are probably not surprised to hear that Mathboy was entranced with the idea of a school that you don't have to leave (all school all the time? yay!). But even Cat Daughter was intrigued by the idea. She asked what we did all the time, and I said that if we did not have class and we had done our studying we pretty much had fun. That impressed her.