29 April 2008

A Historic Occasion

The following are all from This Day in History:

On April 29, 1862, Union troops officially take possession of New Orleans, completing the occupation that had begun four days earlier.

On April 29, 1945, the U.S. Seventh Army's 45th Infantry Division liberates Dachau, the first concentration camp established by Germany's Nazi regime. A major Dachau subcamp was liberated the same day by the 42nd Rainbow Division.

On April 29, 1974, President Richard Nixon announces to the public that he will release transcripts of 46 taped White House conversations in response to a Watergate trial subpoena issued in July 1973. The House Judiciary committee accepted 1,200 pages of transcripts the next day, but insisted that the tapes themselves be turned over as well.

On April 29, 1992, a jury of 10 whites, one Hispanic, and one Filipina in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley acquits four police officers who had been charged with using excessive force in arresting black motorist Rodney King a year earlier. The announcement of the verdict, which enraged the black community, prompted widespread rioting throughout much of the sprawling city. It wasn't until three days later that the arson and looting finally ended.

And on April 29, 1968, I backed into the world at St. Luke's Hospital in Marquette, Michigan. Yep, back then they let us breech babies have a go at it. Just ask Mom how much fun that was, and remember that there were no epidurals way back then.

Yesterday I began an early celebration of my birthday by driving 2 hours to Madison to see the Yarn Harlot. I left early enough to get to the Borders store at 12:30. I got comfey and started working on a washcloth. If you read her blog you'll know that people have been giving the Harlot washcloths, mostly in the shape of the state she's visiting. Initially, I wasn't sure which state I should make. I live in Illinois, we were at a signing in Wisconsin, and my spiritual home is Michigan (the U.P. anyway.) I decided that I'd represent for all of the Chicago area knitters who were not able to see Stephanie because of the thunderstorms last week, and go with Illinois.

I actually started the whole washcloth plan the night before, but my first couple of attempts weren't that great. My first go-round created a washcloth that was 9 inches by 6 inches, but not in the right orientation. Illinois is a long skinny state, and I managed to create a very short, squat looking thing that would have been an embarrassment to cartographers everywhere. Then I tried a diagonal option before remembering that the top of Illinois is almost as wide as the middle, so it wouldn't fit on anything less than a huge washcloth.

Once I got to Borders though, I had figured out how to fix my problems and ended up making this:

Not too bad, it does look like Illinois this time.

After finishing the washcloth I worked on firebird #2 until it was time for the show to start. I met a lot of nice people there, including a lot of the members of the Madison Knitters Guild. This is what the room looked like about 45 minutes before the Harlot came out:

When she came out, she took pictures of the sock and the crowd:

And then spent the next hour and a half entertaining us very much. She signed my book and wished me a Happy Birthday, and then I drove back to Chicago. It was a lovely prebirthday day.

Today's starting out well, too. Husband let me sleep in, there's a luncheon for volunteers at the assisted living facility that I volunteer at, and Husband is coming home early so we can go out to eat. It's going to be a great day.

Now please excuse me, I have to go wash daughters bedding as some mysterious fluid got spilled on it. Then I need to clean up the pet stain on the carpet that I steam cleaned Saturday. Also, the guest room is covered in craft stuff and Mom and Dad are coming in to visit tomorrow. Yeah, it's going to be a great day.

27 April 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I had an interesting conversation with Daughter today. After church she and I went to McDonald's for lunch. As we were sitting there eating we were discussing a story she read about Mary and she asked me, "Mom, what's a virgin?"

Keep in mind that Son is 19, so I'm sure I've had this conversation before, and I know the rule of thumb is to answer only the question they're asking, and keep it in simple terms. So I answered, "A person who hasn't had sex yet." She thought about this for a bit, then asked the obvious follow up question, "What's sex?"

"It's what Mommys & Daddys do to make babies."

"... Do you have babies when you kiss?"


"If you tell me about this am I going to lose my appetite?"


"I don't want to know. Please never tell me."

"OK, if you say so."

Whew. Dodged a bullet on that one.

I've finished the knitting on the first firebird and did the easy part of the embroidery on one side. I've also got the toe started on the second sock, and I figure I'll finish it tomorrow while I'm waiting in Madison for the Harlot.

21 April 2008

The Firebird Progresseth

So I've been busy working on the firebird. I started on it the same day the package came in the mail, sort of. I wound the wool, cast on as directed and got to the 9th row when I decided that there was no point continuing. I somehow managed to make some kind of mistake on EVERY one of the lace rows. Every single time I forgot a yarn over somewhere. This is what it looked like when I quit for the night.

In the light of day I decided that I couldn't live with having jury rigged solutions on every row, so I ripped the whole thing out. I started over and went v e r y s l o w l y, making sure that I checked the stitch count at the end of the lace portion every row. I finally managed to figure out the basic part of the pattern, so things went much more smoothly.

I have progressed on past the toe (which will be the tail feathers on the bird) and have moved on to the belly of the bird. If you look carefully at the photo you can go ahead and pretend that there's not a cable needle hanging there with a stray stitch that dropped from who knows where.

In other news, I am a little hesitant to use my computer lately. Technology seems to have decided that I am not its friend. Last week I threw a load of laundry in the washing machine then went over to help out at our church office. One of the things they wanted me to do was shred three bins full of old stuff. I got the shredder going and started in. This was the kind of shredder that you'd use at home, not really intended for industrial use, where you feed in up to 5 pages at a time. Let me tell you that 3 bins full of stuff, 5 pages at a time, takes a long time to shred. Sadly I can't tell you exactly how long because after about 15 minutes the shredder decided that I was expecting it to do a whole lot more than it was willing to do. Perhaps it was a union shredder and was expecting a break at 12, I don't know. The only thing I am sure of is that it stopped. No smoke, no funny noises, no sputtering, just stopped dead. We were unable to resuscitate the poor thing so I was unable to finish my shredding. Ah well, these things happen.

I headed on home and took the next basket of clothes down to the laundry room and was greeted with the sight of my whites load, still swimming happily in the wash water. Needless to say, nothing I did would get it working again, so I got to bail all of the wash water out, then I ran the rinse cycle, mostly to get the soap out of the clothes, but also hoping that maybe after the rinse cycle it would drain, but naturally it did not. In case you're curious it takes about 87 dips with a 2 cup measure to get most of the water out of a medium sized load of laundry.

On a final note, when did the price of a load at the laundromat go from 60 cents to $1.50?

15 April 2008

Fire(bird)ed Up

I am fired up today for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I got this in the mail:

This is the Firebird sock from the Tsock Flock sock club. Those of you who knit will understand the qualms I feel as I see that it is knit at 9 stitches to the inch on size 0 needles. I'm still having flashbacks from the whole "Hat of Pain" episode, so I'm hoping that I can manage to make these socks without becoming a professional phlebotomist. Even though there's potential for physical injury, I'm still excited because these socks are very cool.

I'm also fired up because I spent 2 hours outside reading today. I'll admit that I had on several layers and Daughters fleece throw at the time, but being able to sit outside without gloves or a hat is pretty darned exciting to me right now. On the down side, I'm pretty sure I've got a sunburn, but it's a price I'm willing to pay to have some actual vitamin D production happening. I'm not the only one who was taking advantage of the upturn in temperatures either.

That would be Son reading The Stand (not doing homework) and daughter doing homework. For the record, it's only 60 F out there, so I think the T-shirts are a little too optimistic.

11 April 2008

G is For...


Green is my favorite color, so I pulled out about half of my green stash for the photo. There's more, but it's mostly the cheap stuff.

G is also for Gone, as in, "I was gone a lot of last week." I made a semi-scheduled trip to visit the parents in the U.P. Dad gave a presentation at the Bay de Noc Spring Garden Conference on Heather and Heath. I went as his technical adviser, and it's a good thing, too. The CD I made of his presentation earlier this year turned out to be corrupt, so if I hadn't been there he would have had problems. Things went smoothly, however, so all's well that ends well.