Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring, Glorious Spring!

Sorry about the long absences from blogging. It has been such a glorious spring here in Minnesota that I've been spending all my free time working on the gardens.
One of the new, exciting things I found is a special service Holasek Greenhouses offer every spring. They sponsor open houses in March, when you bring your pots in, get to fill them with free dirt and then purchase beautiful hot-house grown annuals and perennials to plant in the pots. Then you register the pots with Holasek and leave them in the greenhouse until you are ready to put them out in May.
I took full advantage of this service this year, planting over 20 pots with plants. I ended up picking up my pots a little early. We have had such a mild and warm spring that I risked putting the pots out a little early. So far, so good, although I do have old sheets ready in case I need to cover items to protect from frost.

I've also been freshening up the garden beds, weeding, dividing perennials, replanting the divisions, setting out annuals and generally working myself sore and silly. But I love it. The garden beds look so fabulous this year.

I have been getting socks done. Because I still have all the usual running and waiting for kids, I still seem to be making tons of progress on TUSKAUFOFE.

The second of the plain, vanilla socks was finished several weeks ago. These are for my hubby, hence the wonky toes. My sock blockers are too small for his socks but they looked way too wimply without something stretching them out. These socks used the gusseted heel, which I absolutely love. They tend to hug the heel better than the slip stitch heel I've always used and are much smoother. Total winner in my book.

I also finished the third plain, vanilla socks, using Lorna's Laces sock yarn I purchased at Shepherd's Harvest several years ago. I love the yarn - EXCEPT where it pooled around the heels. This yarn would have worked much better with a contrast short-row heel or with an after-thought heel. I also ran out of yarn before the cuffs were as long as I wished. Had I known they'd be this short, I might have substituted an hemmed cuff instead of ribbing.
Finally, I am nearly finished with the Dead Simple Lace Socks. I finally broke down and bought a pair of Addi Turbo needles in size 0, so I didn't have to refigure all the heel shaping instructions. I did substitute the gusseted heel for the short row heel in the pattern because I do like it so.

Well, I need to go get the oil changed on my car and start running kids everywhere again. The only advantage to all this end-of-year running is the extra enforced sock knitting time.
Then maybe you'll find me back in the garden tonight for a little more weeding and planting.
Ahhhhh, I love spring!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Sometimes I wonder whether becoming attached to our electronic "conveniences" is really beneficial. They are so wonderful and convenient . . . until they break down.

Case in point, computers.

Our home computer was infected by the most malicious and nefarious of viruses. Hubby spent days and days trying to track it down, kill it and immunize our computer against further infections. In the meantime, e-mail was not functional; internet was not available and even my online calendar was beyond reach. After a valiant battle, my beloved Hubby declared the old computer DOA and went shopping for a new one.

So, here we are, a week later, with a brand new computer, but without all my favorite blogs bookmarked. I had such a long and lovely list of favorite friends whom I would visit via blogdom and now I have to go out and recreate my favorites list.

If you haven't heard from me in awhile, feel free to pop in and comment. Then I can click my way back to your blog and re-enter it on my favorites list.

While I wait for long lost friends to check in, here is an update on the progress on TUSKAUFOFE. All three basic socks are finished and Dead Simple Lace Socks are on the needles. My plans to work on UFO's has not come to fruition, mostly because the weather here has been so beautiful that I've been out in the perennial garden, freshening and primping it for its annual spring bloom extravaganza. When I come back in, I'm just too tired to do more than knit a few rounds on a sock. Forget about figuring out where I left off on the pattern and finding energy to tackle a long dormant project. So, sock knitting is what is going to happen until the garden is all weeded and ready for showing off.

Then maybe I'll even find the energy to photograph all three pairs of the finished socks.

Now, I am going to take a couple pain relievers, put some cold compresses on my brand spankin' new sunburn and knit a few rounds on the socks du jour.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ups & Downs

Life has been a roller coaster this past two weeks.

The Good: We spent a wonderful 4 days in Chicago during spring break. We visited some of the best museums I've ever seen. The Museum of Science and Industry was spectacular, with the highlight being the tour of U-505. It was amazing to see a piece of WWII history up close and personal like that.

The best part of the trip was the fact that I found the Chicago City Pass. Not only did it allow us to see the sights we wanted to for a discount but it also gave us special privileges. On Good Friday, we went to the Shedd Aquarium. When we arrived, the line to purchase tickets extended for 2 blocks or more. However, because we had the City Pass, we were able to go to another line that allowed us to get into the aquarium within 10 minutes. And the wait at the Sky Deck (Sears Tower) was 1.5 hours for those purchasing their tickets there. We were able to pass to the front of the line - another 10 minutes wait for us. In time alone, we estimate we saved more than 3 hours. I'd definitely recommend looking into the City Pass if you plan on visiting any major city in the U.S.

The weather was superb and we all had a wonderful time.

The Bad: Just prior to leaving for Chicago, my upright freezer died. Not only did I have to throw away a significant amount of food that had gotten ruined, but I was frantically cooking up stuff that only partially thawed and was trying to squeeze still frozen stuff into the small freezer in our kitchen. The freezer had leaked stinky stuff all over the floor in the basement and I had to clean the floor and the inside of the fridge to prevent a nasty, stinky smell when we got home. Bah!

Also just prior to vacation, we found out that Dancing Diva probably has a form of juvenile arthritis called spondyloarthropathy. She had been battling fatigue and joint pain for several months. After exhaustive testing at our general practitioner's office for everything from Mono to Lyme's Disease, we were referred to a rheumatologist, who performed even more tests. Although he was unable to give her a definitive diagnosis yet, she did test positive for the HLA-B27 genetic marker. Since this is a particularly difficult disease to diagnose, we will be watching for additional symptoms and going back to the rheumatologist on a regular basis to follow-up. As a result, DD has had to withdraw from all her dance classes because it had become too painful to continue and the wear and tear on her joints was more than she could afford to risk. I now need to come up with a new moniker for The Girl Formerly Known as Dancing Diva.

The Ugly: TGFKADD returned to school on Monday to the news that one of her classmates had committed suicide over the weekend. It was yet another case of a young person who was not accepted by his peers and teased about his unconventional attitudes and appearance, who found his lot in life to be unbearable. This young man was a friend of a friend and, although TGFKADD never was unkind to him herself, she was shocked and devastated to find out how deeply the teasing affected this acquaintance.

For my part, I am deeply sorry for the family and friends of this young man and am praying earnestly for them to find comfort in Jesus. And for the entire High School, that this experience may serve to teach everyone how to be more accepting and tolerant of our individual diversity. To have them learn that everyone - EVERYONE - has value in the eyes of God and that teasing, bullying and unkindness has no place in this community.

May God forgive all of us for our callousness and unfeeling behavior toward those who are "different"!