Thursday, July 23, 2009

23 July 2009--Birthday Boy

Today, my First Born is 45. Still has the same big smile, albeit he has pearly white teeth to show now. The barely-visible, silky hair on his 3-month-old head in the above picture is white. As he grew, the white hair became blonde and visible. When he was born, however, everyone made me furious by saying, “Il est chauve!” (He’s bald!) They’d be almost right today. He’s got that classic Male Pattern Balding going for him, and definitely has more than a few white hairs, too.
I have no brothers or sisters, had never babysat for children under the age of three, so First Born was, to say the least, an entirely new experience. He was also the source of some frightening learning experiences. Like the time I gave him his first bath.
The Canadian Mother’s Handbook said not to give a baby a tub bath until the remains of the umbilical cord had fallen off.
“Spread a large towel on your lap," said the CMH authoritatively. "Place the baby on the towel and carefully sponge him down, avoiding the naval area and being careful not to allow soap to get in his eyes.”
My husband was the oldest of three. His sister was four years younger and his brother almost seven years younger than he. Figuring the whole sponge bath thing would be a piece of cake for him, I stationed him by my side, relying on his (Hah!) superior knowledge to fill in if anything went wrong, I began the ritual. (I learned later that he was never interested in such proceedings being performed on his siblings.)
I undressed our precious FB, placed him on my towelled lap and touched him with the warm, soapy, wash-cloth the CMH had prescribed. Instantly, FB let out a bone-jarring scream. My husband, who could field-dress a moose with only a little assistance, screamed even louder, “Tu lui fais mal!” (You’re hurting him!). FB started sliding off my lap. “Help me hold him!” I screamed back. “Je n’en peux plus!” (I can’t stand it!) my Intrepid Man of the Great North Woods cried as he ran out of the bathroom. I started crying, wrapped FB back up securely and decided the First Bath could wait.
My mother died when I was 5½, and the grandmother who took over raising me had died two weeks before I was married. I called my mother-in-law for help the next day. She calmed me down and had her FB drive her over to our apartment the next day.
She made the whole operation look easy, and gave me the confidence that I could bath FB just as proficiently as she did. I threw away the Canadian Mother’s Handbook, because DML had totally ignored its instructions, and obviously knew better than any handbook I could've turned to.
As for Intrepid Man of the Great North Woods, he developed confidence too, although he never gave baths to either of his sons. He preferred doing the dishes while I did the baths.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

21 July 2009--Skywatching

On the long trips made in my childhood with my grandparents from Oklahoma to Nebraska , I sang to make the time pass faster, I sang because my grandparents asked me to, I sang because it was as natural to me as breathing.
When I wasn't singing, I was watching the pictures in passing clouds and making them into stories. The sky and clouds have never lost their fascination for me, and I still sing every chance I get.
Fripon and I love sky watching. At least, I do. Fripon just likes to snooze outdoors, chase and eat passing bugs, and watch maintenance people mowing lawns and tending gardens. He never loses hope that a bird will land within pouncing reach. He also just likes to be close to me, although he would never admit it.

Mare's Tails, a sure sign of rain to come. Again.
Following three photos; More Mare's Tails--the sky can't stop talking about rain. Last; no, not another Mare's Tail-- a contrail!                                        

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Friday, July 17, 2009

17 July, 2009--I'm Biased!

That is, my present knitting project is. I found this scarf pattern on The Three Irish Girls yarn site. If you know how to cast on, do the knit stitch and the yarn over, take that leftover ball of yarn from your stash, or--much better--buy a new one, and go to the TIG site.
The curve in the scarf comes from being knit on the bias. The pattern mentions that the original use an entire ball of yarn and was 7½ feet long! Now that's enough to wrap around anyone's neck and still have plenty left over. The scarf doesn't have to be that long. Make it the length you prefer. I'm going to use the whole ball, just for fun. Unless I get tired of the scarf and terminate it sooner.

Here's a close-up of the stitch.

Here's a neat video teaching the yarn over and its uses:

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Friday, July 10, 2009

10 July 2009 POV; Enchanted Backyard

American ToadImage by Steve Beger Photography ( Productions) via Flickr

My backyard wasn't a backyard in the summer. Its southeast cornor was a fairy kingdom. Tucked behind an extension of the enclosed back porch, it was kept safe from the penetrating, curious eye of the sun by a towering elm. A supple emerald-and-gold Honeysuckle vine cascaded over the rigid interlacing of the chain link fence. Its sticky-sweet perfume was a siren call to the bees and me. We drank nectar from the fragile little blossom flutes. The ravenous bees continued to feast as I communed with the warty toad who spent his summers in the oozy, chocolate mud below the vine. Portly, placid, bronzed as a buddah, he sat unblinking, snatching passing flies. What he did at night, I never knew. I did know that he wasn't a toad, but a prince in disguise. I preferred him as a toad.

The whole east side of the fence was profuse with rose bushes of pale pink, blood-red and snowy hues, purple and violet iris, sunny marigolds, zinnias in rainbow colors, and blushing pink peony bushes. This wasn't a garden, but camouflage for the dusty prairie under the foliage, where plastic horses stirred up dust as they ran wild and free.

In the northwest corner of the yard, grown-ups saw a crimson swing-set of steel tubing. I saw a steaming, tropical jungle, heard the cries of monkeys, the snarls of tigers, and the grunts of wild pigs rooting for insects in the damp carpet of leaves on the jungle floor. Their pungent, feral odor pinched my nose. The set of rings suspended by chains were vines on Tarzan trees.

Other times, the swing-set was a circus ring, where I balanced on a tightrope high above the crowd, which gasped and held its breath when I almost fell. As I landed firmly on both feet, arms raised in a triumphant vee, the music of cheers engulfed me.

The swing, its oak seat smoothed colorless by frequent rides, was a sleek, silver jet airplane. I performed loops and dives, defied gravity, soared beyond the clouds. The wind rushed in my ear and tousled my hair as I broke the sound barrier with a boom that rattled every window in the neighborhood.

On summer evenings, after supper and dishes were done, and a reluctant sun had eased down the horizon to bed, we trooped outdoors to feel the cool breeze that arose most every night. We sat in adirondack chairs, and I studied the winking stars while the hushed voices and laughter of the others embraced me. I considered the vast number of people— ancient Greeks and Romans, Cleopatra's Egyptians, neighbors of Copernicus—who had contemplated the same stars.

Eventually, the swing-set was taken apart, the house demolished, the grounds and gardens cemented over as a parking lot for a newly built student nurses' residence. But on soft summer evenings, when the ancient stars are icily smiling, I hear again the rise and fall of laughter, the low murmur of familiar voices, and I'm transported to my enchanted back yard.

Kathleen Chabot, All Rights Reserved

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

9 June 2009 Sky Watching & Knitting

Finished Aran Afghan Square #6! The yarn was very docile, so I finished it in record time.

As I sat on the balcony knitting last evening, I watched the clouds dancing with the setting sun. It was quite a show!

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning." This old saying is based in fact. A red sky in the morning indicates a sun rising in clear eastern skies casting its rays on storm clouds approaching from the west. At night the clear sight of the red setting sun would tell a sailor that no storms are to the west. Such sunsets and sunrises are not 100% accurate, but today is a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky! I found that info here:

Fripon trying to stare me down. He usually wins. He either wants a snack, or to be brushed. I'd better figure out what He Who Must Be Obeyed wants exactly. Hope your day is filled with joy.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

6 June 2009 Winner of the Knitting Wars--Me

I finally managed to untangle--for the second time--the ball of yarn I'm using to knit the Aran Afghan squares! If it hadn't been for the yarn battles, that square would be finished by now. Oh, well. Here's the #6 square in progress. All the motifs are there except for the 4th, a ribbon shape.
This square was designed by Vicki Sever of Oshkosh, WI, for the Spring 2001 issue of Knitter's Magazine. Vicki says in the article on her square, "The loss of my sister to breast cancer in December 1999 was the inspiration for this square. Each motif in the square represents a different symbol. The ribbon, which is shown in the same aran color as the rest of the square, I've also knit in pink for the symbol of the fight against breast cancer; the cross stands for faith; the anchor stands for hope; and naturally, the heart is for love."
What a great idea! I could imagine an entire quilt made using Vicki's design for each square, either entirely in pink, or only the ribbon worked in pink. Another idea; a quilt using this square with the ribbon worked in yellow, to keep someone serving their country in the armed forces warm.
Vicki's cross has an appropriate Celtic look. I love these motifs. Can't wait to start on the ribbon.

The kitty face is part of the curled up kitty adorning my laptop table, which easily holds the yarn, pattern and other knitting items. It was a gift from my younger son's friend, Pierre. Stay tuned for a picture of the finished square.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

3 July 2009 Back to the Old Stamping Grounds

Stamping again, at last! The roses were made with Stampin’ Up’s Manhattan Flower embossing envelope. I hope to make many more of these. I wanted to try out the technique given in a tutorial by Patty Bennett;

The ATCs were made for ATC Artists' June partner swap . The theme was “Artist’s Choice”, and I used a Michelle Zindorf technique, using sponges instead of a brayer. Sponges work better on the 2½” x 3½” surface. Both stamps are from Cornish Heritage Farms.

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