Friday, October 31, 2008

Passing it on

grace finds beauty in everything
grace makes beauty out of ugly things
grace finds goodness in everything

--lyrics from "Grace" by U2

My camera went fishing today. With my husband. This sharing the camera thing will get difficult if I keep taking more pictures and he keeps going fishing more and more often. Nice friends have even offered to let me borrow, but the going without is good for me. Gives me more incentive to keep working hard to get the one I really want.

But that's not really what I want to get sidetracked on today. I really want to talk about some time I spent a few days ago teaching my 11 year old niece to knit. I had taught her almost 2 years ago at Christmas and of course she picked it up in all of 5 minutes. But then her little brother destroyed her project, lost her yarn and even broke her bamboo needles.

So by chance, she came to church with me while the younger ones were in choir and we sat together in the tiny church library learning and teaching all over again. I shared some of my brilliant knitting wisdom like how I think it's so cool that knitting, no matter what shape you make it into is really just one...long...string. And we both agreed that mistakes are some of the best teachers in life. This of course was something she already knew. So wise at 11.

I fumbled a bit, coming up with conversation topics. My kids are younger and while I know what to talk to my own about (because as a parent I think you kind of "grow" with them), I had to jump ahead a few years, or back many, many years depending on how you look at it. So we rambled about Nintendo DS and should John get one for Christmas (much to his parents shagrin), whether or not she wants a cell phone (that was a yes), whether or not she's going to get one (that was a no), and some rough spots she's going through now, hoping to get her talking about it. I think it worked. Surprisingly, we left out boy talk, but there will be plenty of time for that later.

We ended the night with her wanting to borrow my yarn and needles, but of course I needed them for my hats and I promised to drop by some more yarn and different needles she could keep the next day. I did. I left a note offering to sit with her again next week and gave her my email address should she run into trouble, either the knitting or little brother variety, whichever. A few hours later she emailed, said she'd messed the whole thing up and could we fix it next Wednesday. I wrote back that it was no problem, I'd love to help her and that I was glad she had the courage to try it on her own.

This may seem simple and mundane to some, but to me it's a big step. Hoping to become the aunt I want to be, the one I never had but always wished I did. And if knitting's involved, well, all the better, I'd love to pass it on.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

being 6 1/2

She has busy hands and has loved to write and draw since she first was able. Here's the list I found on the floor of the car today, maybe it's from this weekend, but who knows.

go to target read a book do the computer play with my spider play with the race-track. play with trains with john play with legos with John wacth t.v. with John have lunch play a game with Allie. play in the kichen with Allie play beauty parlor with allie look out my window. talk with mom. look out my window some more. get in bed and rest read a book rest more brush my teeth read Junie B. first grader cheater pants

What I love and perhaps envy the most is that she did/does what she feels like when she feels like it. She reads when she wants to and takes a rest when she needs one. Now what was that book about learning all you needed to know in Kindergarten? She's clearly graduated to first grade.

I couldn't resist sharing some photos from my walk with Sunny today. We waited until the sun was up nice and high. It was a frosty chilly one at 6 a.m. I hope this time of year is pretty wherever you are.

Think I should paint it? I need to add a nameplate above the door for sure. Her nice heated bed kept her in there till after the sun was up and puts my mind at ease.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

color part 3: water

It's been so windy I've had trouble taking pictures outside, but today I managed to between gusts.

the yarn: Sublime (don't you just love the name?)
what it is: 100% extra fine merino dk weight
how it feels: like a spongy cloud of blankety warmth (weird way of putting it I know)

Some updates: the last market was cancelled due to weather, bummer! But I'll be headed to some of the holiday markets in Charlottesville, weather and Kevin's fishing schedule permitting. Once the market was over I looked at the calendar and he'd written, "Kevin fishing" on every Saturday between now and Dec. 31st. Guess he's planning on going.

Etsy has been keeping me busy and local orders, wholesale and a show coming up. I'm also going to be participating in a holiday market on Nov. 15th that the Goochland Farmers Market is sponsoring (my tried and true favorite). And there are plans in the back of my head to slowly integrate some new hat looks into the shop. Add all that to a sleepover birthday party full of 7 and 8 year olds, Halloween and the enormous bruise/black eye on Allie from a horsey ride on big brother gone bad and there's never a dull moment.

I leave you with a random quote for the day (I just can't pass this one up): "When I'm in heaven, will I see what my soul looks like?" --Allie, almost 5

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A look inside and some love talk

Here's where you'll find us, from now until Spring, cozying up to the warmth of the fire for a nap, to read a book, to play games or draw or of course, to knit. My workspace shares the same room luckily, or if it didn't, I'd surely drag it in here.

I've been reading some more, 5 minutes here, 10 minutes at the end of the drive waiting for the bus, or through blurry lashes late at night. The Road Less Traveled again, by M. Scott Peck, M.D. It may be 30 years old, but his ideas on love are timeless and true. I'm to the part of the book where he talks about what love IS. He finished telling us that it is NOT a feeling, a lusty urge, fleeting, easy or effortless. Real love is what sticks around (or not) when all these things inevitably pass. He says it always requires two things: work and courage. He talks about the work of real listening to loved ones and giving them all our attention, setting aside our personal agendas for the moment and giving ourselves completely to the other person.

This can have a profound effect, especially on our children. He says, "There is no better and ultimately no other way to teach your children that they are valuable people than by valuing them." This then has a cyclical effect, where as our children feel valued they say things of value and thus become even more interesting to listen to and pay attention to. I'm leaving out large chunks of text having to do with teaching and learning for the sake of brevity, but here's what he says that I like the most: "If the reader senses the cyclical character of this process, he or she is quite correct and is appreciating the truth of the reciprocity of love. Instead of a vicious downward cycle, it is a creative upward cycle of evolution and growth. Value creates value. Love begets love."

This is the stuff I come back to when I wonder, "Where am I going wrong?" in terms of parenting. It's also what I need to remember when I wonder, "What is it that I've done so right?"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunny's house

Sunny officially has an indoor space outdoors to call her own. Made from all scrap materials that live in the long pole barn, it is cedar lined, has a bed of cedar chips in the back and a dry covered area in front. The metal roof matches the shed and the siding is actually the old, worn wood siding we took off that shed a few years back. It ties into the back of the tool shed which is part of the back yard. We can even plug in a heated pet bed when it gets really cold. (I'll send finished shots in an upcoming post)

There were lots of helping hands on the project.

And then some hands that decided to cook with mud and nuts instead. Yes, you remember the nuts.

I've got to point out the Spring sweater and cropped pants with the furry snow boots and knitted hat. A hodge podge at it's best, but when she just saw this picture she whispered with a hint of awe in her voice, "That's my BEST outfit."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Color: part 2

the yarn: Frog Tree Meriboo
stats: 70% merino wool, 30% bamboo, dk weight
feels: heavenly, soft, chunky but light not heavy
the pattern: easy, K on the right side and K2, P1 on the wrong side. choose your own dimensions.

The picture: still with the serious mouth and this time a bit of hair in face.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just before

Just before breakfast
before I'm fully awake.
"Mom, look at the sunrise" she says. "The sky is pink".

I stop my busyness in the kitchen and run outside.
It's what I'll remember throughout the day.
There's always time for the pink sky
and a picture.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Color: part 1

I have to talk about yarn for a minute. I went to one of my favorite local yarn shops yesterday searching for some fun, good and colorful yarn for scarves for the shop. I only bought three colors/kinds, so as not to put too much pressure on myself to have them all done by the market on Saturday. Three is doable.

The first is this awesome green color, made with Classic Elite's "Wool Bam Boo". Heavenly yarn if you've not knitted with it before. It is so fun and springy (has good stitch memory as more formal knitters would say) that it evokes playfulness when you put it on. Not that you can tell that from the picture below that I'm calling "Serious mouth".

But really, have you ever tried to take fairly decent photos of your products one handed without a tripod? I'm getting better at it. Think it only took me 20 some tries this time.

The pattern can't be any more simple, but that's what I like if you haven't guessed it by now. There's such a tendency among knitters to believe that it isn't really time-worthy knitting if it isn't a complicated, nail-biting, coffee gulping, staying up all night and then take it to the knitting shop the next day to have them figure it out, knitting experience. I myself go for comfortable, every day wearable and finishable (I know that's not a word) without giving me any more gray hairs than I already have.

I'll show you the other two colors as they are finished. You're on the edge of your seat, I know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Falling for Fall

We take the Fall very literally around here. While the much more poetic and genteel term, "Autumn" flows better off the tongue, it's much more a propos to call it Fall and I'll tell you why. You see we're fortunate to be in this old house at just this time when the trees that were planted so long ago have now grown into their most mature and enormous stately state. The one above sits just about 70 feet or so off the side of the house and is the closest culprit for producing large nuts this time of year. They don't just drop, they rain to the ground, especially with any amount of wind. And heaven forbid you be under the tree when this happens or you're liable to get a serious pelting. I should know. I'll spare you the details.

(look closely in the picture above at the size of nut in the middle, and the regular-sized acorn top to the right of it for comparison)

They create such a racket hitting the metal roofs of the house and the out buildings that friends and animals alike are startled and involuntarily say things like, "What the ____ was that?" We're so used to it we hardly notice. The end result is a virtual carpet of large, marble-like nuts, waiting for unsuspecting victims.

Our kids know by now that you don't run on the nuts. You don't walk fast on the nuts. You don't gallop, skip, jump or pogo stick on the nuts. I forget to impart this unspoken knowledge to the friends they have over to play and inevitably they drop like flies. It's almost like a cartoon, where the character seems to run in place, suspend briefly in midair and thud to the ground. And thud they do.

As most kids will, however, mine make use of the nuts. They become part of play stew, or are strung together to make large letters. They are perfect for burying, or just carrying around in buckets and pockets and wagons for other imaginary purposes. Thus far they've not become projectiles. Yet.

I'll take the nuts. Just so long as I can still have the tree they come from and all it's shade and green.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Role reversal

One of the great joys and surprises of parenthood is the opportunity to be taught by your own children. Seeing life through their big, innocent eyes and their first-time-hearing-fresh-approach to some of the basic, simple rules of humanity is priceless and every bit worth paying attention to. The irony between the teasing he endured today, and how this book drew him in ("I love this book, Mom!") was too great for him to see, but it will stick with me for a very long time. I am moved by his goodness, his joy and his ability to let things go and get on with life.

What I learned most today though, is that as much as I want to step in and make everything perfect and happy for him, I can't. Like it or not, he has to put one foot in front of the other each day as it comes, good or bad. He does a much better job at it than me. I suppose I'm just starting out as his student.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


It's inevitable. Life will rain on you. Sometimes it's a drizzle, other times it's a long, drawn out soaker, and sometimes it's a downright hailstorm. The long weekend camping trip we were supposed to take was cancelled due to rain, and it's just as well because we've been battling our own figurtive drizzle as a family and need to be nowhere but right here where we are. Nothing major, no alarms should go off and it's eventually something I'll be able to laugh about (maybe laugh and grimace simultaneously), but just not right now.

Thank goodness for family coming together, for understanding friends whose acts of grace touch me deeply and make me want to be a better person, and for patience, love and persistence that can weather the storms, big or small.

For over 15 years I've kept a piece of artwork hanging in my house strategically placed where I can read the poem that accomplanies it on a daily basis. It's wisdom is uncanny whether things are as bad as they can get, or as simple as if I just stub my toe. Coincidentally it was written by someone who shares the same name as my 9th grade honors geometry teacher. Go figure.

"Most people don't know there are angels whose only job
is to make sure you don't get too comfortable
and fall asleep and miss your life."

--Bill Andreas

Those angels are paying close attention to us right now. I hope they move on by tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

P is for Pumpkin

I counted. This was my eighth trip with school to the pumpkin patch. That's twice in preschool and once in Kindergarten for my oldest two children. Two times so far for my youngest and I'll go once more next year with her and then we'll be on our own for the annual outing. We've actually started making an additional trip to a nearby pumpkin patch specifically for the older two since they no longer go with school. That's a lot of pumpkin patch visits and even more pumpkins.

In the past few years the trip with preschool has changed to one that's much farther away, but there are more added attractions for the kids. There are the sheep,

the chickens,

and my daughter's favorite, Mr. Turkey.

There are bunnies, cows, an emu, peacocks, pig races and a huge, gigantic, enormous corn maze. But there's something a little disheartening when you pull up to the field in the covered wagon hayride and see a crew of laborers in a nearby patch of pumpkins, UN-loading them from large crates and placing them nicely in the field. Luckily, the kids seemed oblivious, but it didn't go unnoticed by a single parent there.

So while there aren't any pig races or a spooky house at the place closer to home, at least you can still twist the pumpkins off the vine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Out with the old

In with the new.

I consider myself pretty thrifty. But there are times when not spending money looks more foolish than economical. Take the socks in the first picture, for instance. I'm rather embarassed to say that the green pair is at least 15 years old, and the white ones are, ahem, even older. Last year Kevin even asked when I was going to get rid of those "wretched ol' things". (He likes to say wretched when he really wants to express disgust.) Even though they're "wear camping socks" and "wear bumming around the house socks", they're nearly every day socks. So as I reflected on his comment and their frequency of wear, I decided it was time to throw out the old and bring in the new.

I'm capable of wasting a great deal of mental time and energy on being frugal. Like figuring out how to fit in an out of the way trip to the cheapest gas station when time won't really allow for it, or suffering with freezing feet all because I'm too cheap to buy new ones. I justify it by saying to myself that there are more important priorities to spend money on. Like the kids, the family, food, etc. but every once in a while I'll stop myself and ask, "aren't I part of the family too?".

This may seem trivial on the surface and as I said before a huge time waster, but I'm sure there's some great psychological reason why I operate this way. I have my own theories and maybe you do too, but whatever they are, the most important thing for me to remember is...I'm workin' on my flexibility when it comes to some of my old worn out ways that benefit no one.

Enough of that. Here's the basket report: 2 down, 1 to go and I think I'm on my way to a dislocated index finger. Well, maybe that's a little melodramatic. It just feels like it. (point of reference: these babies are 8" in diameter and 8" tall)

Fitting that they're going to someone in Sweden, eh? Simple lines, cream, makes me think of Sweden.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Moon sand

I had no idea what we were getting into when I agreed to let Allie buy Moon sand with some of her birthday money. If you're familiar with it, you know that the tiny little grains of sticky colored sand get in every nook and cranny, all over the bottoms of feet, in the hair, stuck onto clothing and in between the miniscule cracks between the wood floor boards. The kids love it. More than Play Doh. It's right up there with paint.

I have a few ground rules on the moon sand:
1. they have to ask to get it out well before 8 p.m.
2. they can use it inside IF they can find the plastic art mat
3. or, they can take it outside on the porch if the weather's nice

I think that's fair. There is one up side to the whole operation and that is when they're done, they can never retrieve it all and the stuff left behind gets swept into the borders around the porch, or if we're inside it gets sucked up into the vaccuum. That way, we always end up with less than we started with. I'm waiting for the day they run out and want to buy more. I just hope the allure fades a bit before then. Maybe some of you have more tolerance for the stuff than me.

Today was great porch swing weather where I sat and watched the blue sand being made and remade into animals, houses, people, etc. I'm working my way through an order for three "everything baskets" from the shop. They take more hand strength than the usual knitting so I have to do some, switch to something else and then come back until they are eventually done. Thankfully I remembered to warn the purchaser they'd take me a few days to complete.

And the sand party raged on.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The perfect evening

For the perpetually cold, the prospect of Fall and Winter approaching can be a bit unsettling. Memories of icy toes, fingers and ears are not ones to necessarily look forward to, yet there are things I definitely like about the changing seasons. The way the air smells, the changing colors, the angle of light and walking out of the house at 6 a.m. to Orion's belt in the still night sky are wonderful, but what really gets me excited is cozying up by a fire. Whether it be outdoors or in, count me in, to be curled up right next to it.

So that's what we're up to tonight. Our first bonfire of the season, followed by a homemade dinner with country bisquits from scratch, grilled free-range chicken legs from the market , fresh salad and produce also market finds, followed by s'mores and a good fire. The only things left to add are family and some knitting and I think I've gone to heaven.

What's that you ask? Oh, yes, that is Allie up there with her calculator. A new obsession.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I tried

I tried to kill it, but it just keeps on blooming now into October. I didn't water it at all. I weeded around it only twice. I staked it with something too flexible and not nearly tall enough so it fell over. But it kept growing anyway. Since it's hanging there, precariously parallel to the ground, there are shoots growing off of it in a direction that should be sideways, but instead they're straining toward the sun.

Plants that are nearly impossible to kill are right up my alley. I've heard talk that dahlias are hard. But I've had more trouble with black-eyed susans and purple cone flower. Or maybe that was because the dog was peeing on them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another hole in the head

what this means:

fond memories from childhood for both of us
two brothers coming together and the 6 children between them
new memories
many hours repairing an old trailer and boat
recycling instead of throwing away
new isn't always necessary
the wonder of wind and water, sails and a rudder
driving without a license
sailing lessons
tipping it over for the fun of it
3 kids standing on a centerboard to right it
more trips to the water
a whole new language (boom, sheet, come about, tack)
making more room in the pole barn
watercraft #4
subsequent hole in the head

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

At the dinner table

Kevin began the discussion at dinner last night talking about John's positive, can-do attitude. There was quite a bit of pre-discussion, but I'll let you in where it starts getting interesting.

"So you mean if we moved to Alaska and you had no friends and didn't know anyone and had to go to a new school and sit in a new desk, that'd be just fine with you?" Kevin asked him.

"Sure! It'd all work out. I can make new friends." replied John.

Kevin (to me): "Why don't I have that kind of mindset? Why don't I just know that somehow everything's gonna be just fine? That it'll all work out in the end. I really think everyone is born with that attitude and then they somehow lose it along the way."

me: "Well, not EVERYone is born with it (several examples come to mind)."

Kevin: "Okay, not everyone. But then why does he have it and some people don't? Why can't I have it?"

me: "You can."

Kevin: "I'm really trying. I mean I pray EVERY day, 'God, please take away my worry and anxiety. God, PLEASE take away my worry and anxiety.' "

me: "He can't take it away when you're holding on to it so tightly. You have to let it go in order for it to be gone. You have to set it all down and just walk away. Maybe you should pray, 'God, please help me to LET GO of all my worries and anxiety.' "

DING. (the sound of lightbulbs going off)

And it was just then that I remembered that the advice we most freely give is that which we most need to follow ourselves.

I'm getting there

I finally made myself a lightbox yesterday for photographing jewelry inside with an inexpensive camera. It only took me three months of saying I was going to do it to actually get it done. Once I saw a picture of a very low tech light box and realized it'd take me all of 10 minutes and materials I already had in the house, it was a done deal.

There is still much tweaking to do in my opinion to make the photos look better, but I'm getting there I think. At least I'm getting more detail in the shots and you can sort of see what they look like. The two above are listed on Etsy right now and I'll be listing more this afternoon.

I'm thinking of a different background color on the next go around. I'm just not a big fan of stark white. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A beautiful thing--men who knit

There he sits, Cricket, our market manager who graciously served as our first knitting student during a demonstartion we had a yesterday's market. I have to say that he and the next student, also a man, were our quickest learners and began knitting as if they'd been doing it for years. I showed them both how to cast on, knit and even purl, I bet you anything at least one of them shows up next Saturday ready to cast off something they've knitted this week.

I was supposedly in charge of the demonstration, but I gotta hand it to my knitting compadres Mary and Pam who pretty much ran the show. And Mary, with her gorgeous sweater and bag knitted by her mom that we all drooled over and each took turns petting. If only I'd remembered my camera I could show you. Mom brain strikes again!

Friday, October 3, 2008


I just have to reflect on a comment on the last post. YES! I have lost brain cells since having children. That's exactly what I was thinking when I was searching for the name of the magazine and I almost used it as my excuse, but the shop owner (of a children's boutique) doesn't yet have children and I figured she'd probably look at me a little sideways if I claimed brain damage due to motherhood. Some moms may be insulted by this, but my mom friends agree with me a thousand percent. It's the being put on the spot factor that gets me every time. Stage fright, brain fart, choke, major malfunction.....blah...blah...blah. But given the choice, I'd choose the kids a million times over.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


That's basically what my morning boiled down to while Allie was in school. I have my Etsy shop, I vend at the market every Saturday and I have my things in some local shops, but it's been my goal this Fall to increase my exposure by going to more shops to see if they're interested. So I took around a bag of hats and booties to see what I could stir up. Just 3 shops. One rather big, Whole Foods, and I NEVER would have thought of going there were it not for one their marketing people telling me to. The other two were small and I think I may have gotten somewhere with one because the manager was there and I could speak directly with her. The other two I had to leave my name and card and will follow up later.

It's a bit of leg work and the knitting alone is alot of work for a reduced price so I ask myself often if it's worth it and more importantly WHEN am I going to find the time to do it all? What I keep coming back to is that I'll make it work. It always seems to somehow. And it's not all about money, it's about something bigger that I just can't put my finger on right now, but I know it's out there and one day I'll know why all this is necessary.

I find the whole thing a humbling and exposing sort of venture. I've spoken about this before and I am getting used to the whole "putting yourself out there for the world to critique" sort of thing, but it really does get embarassing when you mention (while people are ooohing over your booties) that they were pictured in a local magazine this summer and can't remember the name of the magazine!! It was on the tip of my tongue. I remembered it as soon as by butt hit the seat of my car but could not for the life of me cough it up when it mattered most. Skirt! remember?

I spent a good half hour beating myself up about that one and then switched to repeating, "I will not beat myself up over something so trivial. I will not beat myself up over something so trivial...." you get the picture.

So that's basically how the morning went. Wish me luck.