Monday, December 29, 2008


Saturday, we had a photo shoot to do for a magazine layout. It was at an old farmhouse that is on the National Registry. When we pulled up, my eyes bugged out. Perched on a wall ahead of us was a peacock! But that wasn’t the best of it. As I got out with my little digital, I saw WHITE peacocks!

The lady of the house came up to greet the DH, and I asked if I might wander around outside. She kindly said I might, and I discovered I hadn’t seen the half of it. There were at least nine white peafowl, and perhaps two dozen of the brightly colored ones, plus turkey,

Guinea hens, and some I can’t even identify.

The DH took some shots with the good equipment, then went into the house while I kept shooting with my bitty camera. I asked him to ask the owner, Pat, if I might keep any feathers I found; there weren't many, not being molting season, so I thought I wouldn't be depriving her.

After he went in, I managed to get one shot he didn’t; one peacock in full display. I didn’t know the stiff feathers that hold up the corona effect feathers actually make a rattling noise against them. It was so COOL!

Here you can see what prompted the display; a little, but very vocal, Guinea hen.

To me, one of the most fascinating things was watching them trees! As Pat said, "Why not?" Why not indeed, but you just don't think of such large birds flying, let alone doing trees. Aren't they glorious?
I wish I could have gotten closer to some of the white peacocks, but the two pictured above were skittish, and the rest were penned. Unfortunately, the wood beam makes it harder to see them. If you look closely, you can see one of the regular peacocks (can there be a "regular" peacock?) perched on the roof outside. I'm pretty sure it was saying "Nanny nanny boo-boo!" to the captive birds.

The DH got some nice shots inside, including an antique spinning wheel, which is not in use. I'd have liked to have seen it, but I was busy being bird-brained. I don't mind. As the owner and he came back out, she handed me what looked like one of those huge rose arm bouquets, but all peacock feathers! She'd had to catch a bird for a new owner, and usually they stop when you get their tails. This one didn't, and left half its tail with her, and the new owner didn't want it. My lucky day!

I scraped bird crud off my Danskos and got back in the car feeling very content. Yes, I wish I'd been using a better camera, but I still got some nice shots, and so did the DH.

But *I* got the display shot! :::smug grin:::

Friday, December 19, 2008

Back to Life

Much of what I do is actually making my DH's dream come true. No, not THAT dream (although I do :-} ), but since he was a young man, he wanted to be a photographer. He is, and a good one, and I spend my days preparing his work for uploading to the lab, sometimes giving it a bit of a wow factor that is best done post-photography. Like this from a boudoir sitting for a Christmas gift for her hubby. All well and good.

But I have carved a bit of a niche out for myself in our business, and that is restoration work. I truly love doing it, even if some things I get make me smack myself in the forehead and question my sanity. I'm allowed to do that; you are not.

The sidebar work is a good example. SuzyG brought it in for a relative. The original image is about two by two, round, and had to be wedged out of a snowglobe, of all things. There is not a centimeter on it that doesn't have damage, from bad creasing to crazing of the finish. I said I could do it, blow it to about a 5x5 and make it look better if not perfect. They were able to provide another image of the father in the shot, so I could use it for reference and to lift the lower face, which was completely obliterated in the photo.
It's a small representation here, and it certainly wouldn't stand up to a wall portrait sizing, but I'm pleased.

I also got this in recently...a 16x20 of a model for the Hecht company. I think it dates from the late 40s, maybe early 50s. The gentleman that brought it in is from a shop that we photographed for one of the magazines for which we do work. It was the grandmother of a friend of his, and he wanted the same size, as well as a smaller print. This was much easier work, although there was a lot of edge damage, discoloration and tons of flyspecks and dustmarks to remove. See what you think. Wasn't she lovely?

It's wonderful getting to restore someone's memories to the depth and vibrancy they originally showed. Now this lady's image is preserved for generations to come.

Call me Sucker

This is Twilight. Twilight is a cat. A feral cat. A feral cat that mews piteously. We live in a rural-ish subdivision. The lots are all about 2 acres. There are a lot of feral cats in the area; it goes with the territory of lots of farms. We see them hunting around us all the time. They stay out of our way, we stay out of theirs. All's right with the world.

Except for this guy. Although he looks young, we are pretty sure we've seen him hunting in the back yard for awhile. We've even seen him have a close encounter, nose-to-nose, with some deer, which didn't faze either species in the slightest, but left us grinning.

So why, we have to wonder, is he suddenly appearing next to our front door? He shows up, very vocal, letting us know he wants something...but not our touch. Oh, no. "Hisssst!" says Twilight. Yes, we named him. He's a lovely glossy black with just a soupcon of white hair on his chest that, in my whimsical moments, I refer to as his 'stardust.' See the blog title.

It's been getting bitterly cold some days and nights here, and we were worried. While he's made a nice little nest for himself under the bushes you see here, wrapped in some llama fur that wasn't good enough to spin and is now acting as mulch, the weather has been wet and foul. So one morning, I snuck him a handful of dog kibble. He ate it quickly, as soon as I got out of touching range. Feeling like a sap for encouraging him, I confessed to the DH. Turns out I married another sap...he'd already slipped him some that morning too. Bowing to the inevitable, I added a bowl of water to the mix.

A couple of days of this (much to the dogs' dismay; they don't like depredation of their food), and suddenly I am the proud owner of a bag of Little Friskies. But if I'm gonna feed this critter, I'm going to try to tame him to hand, at least. So one freezing night, I kneel on the concrete porch (I refer you once again to the blog title), and strew a couple pieces of kibble, holding the rest in my hand. Twilight eats the pieces on the porch, although he's obviously not happy that my hand is so close. He paces, scratching himself on the bush and rubbing against a planter. I make vaguely encouraging sounds, and he eventually takes a bit from my fingers, nibbling ever-so-gently on my thumb too. A few days of this, and he readily comes to feed from our hands, but still doesn't want to be touched. HISSST! he reminds us.

Every once in awhile we get a stroke in while he's distracted. The dogs are distracting, we find. None of them threaten him, although his back may go up if they bound up too quickly. Twilight and Jack especially like one another. They even do some rudimentary playing when we can get the other two out of the way. DH found he could touch the cat if he was otherwise occupied. So I decided to get a bit bolder. I cupped both my hands, with food only in one. As Twilight ate from my right, I scratched under his chin with my left. He was too greedy to object. He's incredibly soft and glossy for a cat that has been living in the rough.

Now he paces in front of the door, impatiently waiting for us to come out and meowing. He'll sleep up in a Rubbermaid container we have on the front porch that has some odds and ends in it, with a furniture cover on the top. He likes to sun there. He seems tempted to come in but won't, and that's probably just as well at this point. IF we can get him comfortable enough with us down the road, we'll try to get him to a vet for shots and neutering. But that's a big if.

Oh, and the biggest reason I'm a sucker? Although I had a gorgeous black cat growing up, now I'm highly allergic to cats. Breathing trouble, sneezing, eyes swelling shut...all of it. So why am I caring for this cat instead of calling animal control?

You guessed it. Sucker.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Name is Diana...

....and I am helpless against yarn. There. I said it. Do you know why there is no 12-step program for people with knitting (spinning, crochet, cross-stitch,, including chocolate) stashes?

Which is, of course, not to say we don't need one. *sigh*
Yesterday we went up to Frederick MD to visit a home brewing supply store. I gave the DH a conical fermenter as an early Christmas present, early because I know he wants to do some brewing. Turns out one part they sent is the wrong size, so we have to get THAT fixed (grrrrrrrr) but we got some other stuff he needed. As we left, he asked where I'd like to go next.

Hmmm. No idea, but I pulled out my phone and Googled for a yarn shop. Sure enough, I came up with two and one was just a few blocks away. We headed over to Eleganza Yarns.

This is a yummy little shop. Really nice selection, and God help me, a sale table upstairs. Did okay, just a little innocent fondling with the occasion surreptitious wiping of drool, until I hit the sale. Kristi, one of the owners, is clever enough to have interesting swatches made up in the various yarns...cables and the that it's not just garter stitch to look at. The swatch sold me on the last 7 skeins she had of some Colinette Banyan in a Marble colorway. I don't usually care for knitting with cotton, but this is really soft, and I could not resist the colors. Do I have any idea what I'm gonna do with it? Surely you jest. Suggestions are welcome.

Then I made the classic error of touching some Louisa Harding yarns. NOT on sale. Kashmir Baby in white, three skeins, and Kimono Angora, two skeins, in color #4, this really lovely pink/purple mix. I'm thinking of doing a new version of the Fiesta Mittens in these two, seriously decadent mittens. I think the others I'm making now are destined to be a gift for a nosy friend who would surely read about them here.
All in all, a really nice shop, and Kristi and I hit it off well, especially given that I am so not a social animal. I do get a little giddy around masses of luscious yarn, though. I decided against heading to the other yarn shop the DH dangled in front of me, or even Coldwater Creek, after the dent I put in my checkbook. But I love the yarn, and I'm happy. Plus I feel virtuous passing up some alpaca I covet. Alpaca is seriously my kryptonite.
Isn't one of the 12 steps about forgiving yourself? If so, I'm doing the program already.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Treatin' A Girl Right

There's a fiber festival held in Berryville, VA annually at the end of October, but this is the first year I've been able to go. It usually ends up conflicting with the birthday dinner for which my Mom and I gather with other family members. Our birthdays are five days apart, so we celebrate together.

So this year, my faithful DH/Sherpa and I went. It's a small but pleasant festival, nice vendors and a lovely locale. I didn't buy much, some pretty alpaca, and a set of #1 ebony sock dpns (double point needles). Oh, and some nice spicy soap! The dpns were quite pricy compared to, say, bamboo, but I got them for the strength of ebony, and put them into use on the Fiesta Mittens.

Imagine my distress when, as I was working on the last few rows of the thumb, one of the needles snapped about an inch in from the tip. I was disappointed, and a bit ticked, too. I've never broken a needle in my life, and now I break what is supposed to be a very strong one.

I looked up the folks from whom I purchased them, Blue Ridge Yarns, and shot off an email. I expected to be referred to the manufacturer, which would have been acceptable to me. Instead, Linda wrote me back, immediately offering to replace the needle for me. A couple emails back and forth (yes, Virginia, it DOES help to say what size needle I need...doh!) and Linda said she'd get the needle in the mail.

It arrived today, well sandwiched between cardboard...and get this! - TWO needles were enclosed. That is customer service, folks. I'm the first to gripe when something goes wrong, but as I've said before, I'm all about the fair, so I wanted to pay my compliments to Blue Ridge Yarns. BTW, they have nice yarns, too.

Anyone in business knows the adage that a satisfied customer will tell one or two others, but a dissatisfied customer will complain to 12 other people. I'm hoping I'll turn that around for a change. If you do shop there, tell 'em why. NAYY, but I like people to see their good karma coming back at them.

Gee, I hope they don't duck.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I've been progressively more troubled by a trend I've seen over the last few years. I see it on TV, hear it from friends, and get incessant emails on it. And that is the "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" debate.

I am a Christian, mostly in the sense that the teachings of Christ are, I believe, an excellent way to live your life. I do think other philosophies, faiths, creeds, et al, have merit too. This is just my path, however imperfectly I follow it. I'm not big on religion. While I don't necessarily think that it's "the opiate of the masses," I do think religion is an excellent way to screw up faith. Faith? Now that I have in abundance.

All that to say that I simply don't get the aggressively militant "taking back Christmas" crap. Since when is it insulting to be wished happy holidays? Dammit. They want me to be happy! They SUCK!! So what if they don't want to assume what holiday I celebrate? What if they're saying that particular phrase because they're including New Year's greetings? How rude of them. Or not so much.

But no, now we have to turn fact that someone is giving us good wishes into an insult. I've heard people respond to the cheerful "Happy Holidays" with a snarled "Merry Christmas" that sounds more like an expletive. I get emails that accuse people who use the H.H. greeting of trying to steal Christ's thunder. I've seen sentimental claptrap that pictures Jesus as feeling his birthday (which, btw, it isn't...He was born in the spring) is being forgotten. And they all imply that people saying H.H. are some kind of infidels trying to prevent Christians from celebrating Christmas.

Nonsense. I've a few Jewish friends, and I've never seen one of them get offended if someone, not knowing their religion, wishes them a Merry Christmas. None of them feel we're trying to insult them. They accept the kind thought behind it. I'd suggest there are a heck of a lot more important things out there to get angry about than someone caring enough to wish you happiness.

I should know. I manage to get angry at most of them, hence the blog name. But honestly, if I ask myself the hackneyed "What Would Jesus Do?" when confronted with the H.H. versus M.C. controversy? I just can't see Him sneering, "Wish me a happy birthday!" to someone saying Happy Holidays. Dunno what He'd say to Merry Christmas, because of course, He celebrated Hanukkah.

Instead, I think He'd smile, and wish us all Peace. And so do I.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You Better Not Pout

But you will, if you're one of the crafty folk who read this blog. You won't be able to help it, but Mrs. Claus will help Santa understand.

Some background. As you can see at the bottom of the page, I own/moderate several Yahoo groups. Most are knitting or spinning, one is a list for Scottie owners or wanabees. We take other terriers too, as long as they know their place. ANYWAY...a Scottish (Orkney Isle) lady who was doing an instructional KAL (KnitALong) on the EZasPi list happened to mention that she was about to pick up a Scottie from a rescue group. I pounced on that and invited her to join AngelScot. Her name is Liz Lovick, and she is a master knitter who owns and operates Northern Lace.

Every year, our Scottie list does two programs. One is a secret pal-type program that we call Terrier Twins. Simple minimum requirements of four cards (ecards are fine) and a birthday gift, it's meant to be a friendship/support kinda dealy job. The other is a Secret Santa. This year, I've had Liz as my Terrier Twin (it's not reciprocal, she has someone else for hers) and she drew me for the Secret Santa.

Now, I'm no dummy. I'd have happily rigged this as my dear, chicken-fearing friend Tracey accused me of doing. But I didn't. It was pure serendipity-doodah. Liz sent my gift early, since we never know what international post will do. This time it did well. The Tyvek envelope got to me unharmed. Speaking of which, that is some of the most indestructible crap I've ever seen. Yes, you can cut it open, but tear it? Schwartzenegger in his heyday couldn't do it, I'm tellin' ya.

Being a polite lady, I asked on AngelScot when I might open the package. Before Liz could answer, Tracey egged me on to open it...guess eggs don't bother her, just chickens. But soon Liz came back to tell me to go ahead and open it, and her Scottie named Scottie (remember he's a rescue, she didn't do that to the puir boyo) said it would explode in ten minutes if I didn't open the package.

Well we couldn't be havin' that, now could we? Not after she went to all that trouble. So I opened the Tyvek and pulled out a longish white box and a tote bag. One note - when you send things out of this country, you must attach a customs form. The effect of this is basically government Scroogality, because you have to reveal the contents. So I knew from seeing it on the form that the package had a spindle in it, and some 'bits of wool'. I was excited; I love spindles, and if they are both beautiful and functional, they are absolutely for me. Not you. ME.
I opened the box, and a spindle like none I own came out. Beautifully square! For those of you who aren't spinsters (don't GO there), most spindles are round. There was a note from Liz saying the spindle was from the UK's premier spindle-maker, Michael Williams. You can see some of his beautiful wood turning work here. Not just the spindle was inside, but some utterly gorgeous wool (Jamieson & Smith Shetland top)and silk hankies for spinning, dyed in colors I love. My jaw dropped. I've been spinning the wool on it the past two evenings, getting a very fine singles that you can see here.

But generous Liz wasn't done. I turned to the tote. Scotties cavort on the outside - it's from the rescue group she supports, and I love it. But inside! -oh my!! There was a pattern for a Fair Isle hat designed by Liz, and bunches of partial balls of Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight to make the hat. Any knitter worth their purls knows that this is primo stuff. The Ganga of Wool. I was thrilled to bits. As Liz said, she felt I wouldn't mind having partial balls to do the project. Uh, kinda not.

After doing my happy, don't bother checking YouTube...I settled down to look at the pattern and saw this:

She had modified the pattern JUST FOR ME! I was flabbergasted. All these little motifs to replace those in the original pattern, and all Scottie-related. Different head and body studies, and even wee bones...all in my favorite colors again. I couldn't be more touched. Unless George Clooney were within touching distance, in which case all bets are off. Even then, I'd be doing the touching. Pretty sure he'd be running.

Seriously, it is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have received in my life. Right up there with my prayer shawl from Kristina. Think about it. Not only my favorite colors, hobbies, and doggies, but the sheer work of doing those designs. Did I mention? Just. For. ME! As soon as I finish the Fiesta mittens I'm doing, this hops on my needles.

I don't even think you have to be a knitter or spinner to appreciate that kind of effort. It's a better woman than I am that made it, too. Not that that takes much, mind you, but Liz is a pip!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Last Saturday, we took pictures of a large family group, some of which have been clients for years. Nice folks, the ones we know, but I did have a bit of an issue. There were several small children in the group, and while most of the adults were in another room setting up a viewing appointment, only one adult male and a few older kids were watching the little ones.

Now, we keep a candy dish on the front desk. It usually has sugar-free mints in it, me being diabetic and also not wanting to contribute to any sugar rushes on the part of the kids we photograph. But for the holiday we added a few peppermint Kisses, and the tiny Tootsie Roll Pops. You're ahead of me here, I know. While the older kids were great at making sure little ones didn't play on the stairs, they did nothing to keep them out of the candy dish. They made more regular trips to it than a pig does his favorite wallow. The second youngest decided to make a fell swoop, and when she started cramming her fourth piece in her hand, smiling slyly at me like I was a co-conspirator, I said I thought she had plenty. Wiped that smile clean off her face. LOL At this point the previously full dish was half-empty, and when the littlest one came back (and the adults were back too, but paying no attention) with an unwrapped lollipop in her hand, and having had several pieces already, I said honey, I think you've had enough.

Big mistake. In trying to prevent a kid from ODing on candy, I provoked a meltdown. To the accusatory stare of her mother, I watched the kid collapse in tears and bury her face in mom's legs. I explained I was trying to be helpful, all the while biting back the desire to say if you watched your spawn, I wouldn't have to be the police. DH told me the kid had several meltdowns during the sitting too, so I think it's just her modus operandi.

I told you that to tell you this. :-)

Today, the same family has TWO viewing appointments to accomodate the large number wanting to see the pictures, and their various schedules. Unusual, but okay. Several folks show up at the appointed time and go in to view the pictures.

Where I sit at my desk, I can hear anyone coming up the front steps and onto the porch. I do hear someone come up, but then nothing. Odd, thinks I, and get back to the strenuous game of Spider Solitaire I'm playing whilst I await the order upon which I will next work. Quite a few minutes later, I hear the door open. SuzyG, receptionist extraordinaire, is at lunch, so I go out of the office to wait upon whomever.

And find a man yakking on his cell phone. I ask if I may help him, and he tells me he's one of the people who should be in the appointment...twenty minutes after it started! He then continues yapping on the phone. I tell him they are in this room, displaying the door with my best Vanna White hand gestures. He walks past it, down the hall. I correct him, cracking the door open and saying to those inside that another family member is here. He waves at me irritably, giving me the universal "Don't interrupt me" motion with his palm out facing me.

Oh, REALLY? Are you here in OUR business to do YOURS? One older gent peeks out at him, and he apparently then goes in the sales room. I say apparently because I left the hall rather than continue on to get the large knife in the kitchen to surgically remove the phone from his ear. Then I hear him come out, jabber a bit, and go outside again. Fine. Be outside and talk. Only it's cold, and he doesn't stay there, going in and out four times. Guess he thinks heat is free. Finally he starts wandering around reception (the office I'm in is right off that room) talking intensely into his phone. "What I want to know, Scott...what I want to know...why is she suddenly upset today? Why today?" Gee, I don't know...maybe you're rude beyond belief with her too? Then he has the nerve, gall and presumption to walk into the office, in spite of a partially closed door clearly saying 'PRIVATE.' I hate few things more than being made to feel like a zoo animal on display, and a give him my best "I beg your pardon?!?" look. I learned it from Dixie Carter on Designing Women.

He did at last finish up and take care of our business with him, after everyone else was done. Folks, I love cell phones. I'm a huge gadget geek, and I'm a firm believer in convenience, especially mine. But I'm sick unto death of people who think we all want to be part of their private little world. I do not want to see you driving with a phone up to your's my life you're endangering. I do not want to listen to your argument while I'm trying to enjoy a romantic dinner. I do not want to be interrupted in what we are doing because someone calls or texts you. And while I'm at it, I don't want to listen to your loud, occasionally obscene, ringtones either. As my mother used to say, if you can't play nicely with it, don't play at all.

And you're right, I don't feel so badly about making the little girl cry anymore, either.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Camo Gear

Yesterday was an exhausting day. Looking at the upcoming schedule, and knowing my receptionist had a bit of a lull, we decided to go ahead and decorate the inside of the studio for the holidays. The outside will wait till after Turkey Day, but in this economic climate, we need to remind customers that they can holiday shop with us. Our studio tree is all Scottie ornaments other than the angel (I don't like any of the Scottie ones out there), a few crystal snowflakes and garland, and one token Sheltie. Last year we moved from a four foot tree to a seven foot one, and it looks great. My digital cannot do the lights justice, but this gives you an idea. Note the Santa sitting in the corner, and the dogs going up the stairs.
BTW, and nothing to do with yesterday, I finally finished my socks. I could have made the cuffs higher, but I don't usually wear my socks very high, so I stopped. One of the numerous benefits of knitting socks toe-up. I just love the colors.

Back to yesterday. My grandson Cameron is about to turn 5, and his mom, aka my daughter, wanted to do some studio pictures with him in preference to buying the dreck the school photographer put out. That's her characterization; I didn't see them. Okay, she said something other than dreck, but I'm feeling polite today.

So in came Camo. A lean mean manipulative machine. That kid had the undiluted attention of four adults, and acted up accordingly. Oh, nothing really bad, just what you'd expect. My favorite was him darting, shirtless, out of the dressing room, but modestly holding his hands over his wee nipples - then running downstairs to do his semi-streak for the receptionist! Little stinker.

On the other hand, the camera utterly loves this child. Even when he'd do mock-frown, it was cute on a serious scale. I had two goals. He got his sweater that I made him early so I could get pics of him in it. I'm glad I added the little front pocket, and the hood looks cute on too. He has lovely blue eyes, and this really brings them out. I adore the feet in this shot too.

My second goal was for the next shot. And in spite of the fact that I had "glowed" off most my makeup in the decorating frenzy, I wanted a picture with him. Yes, this is the real me. No retouching other than the edge softening that you can see for photo effect. See what you think.

I'm going to send that one off for a couple prints, which is why it has our logo on it already. BTW, when having your portrait made with a grandchild, always have their arm wrapped around your neck. Hides a lot of stuff better hidden. ;-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Run Ragged

I have a half-sister, Laura. She's younger than my fact, she's younger than 3 of our father's grandchildren. Therefore, she's never felt like a sister to me since we didn't grow up together, but more like another niece. This past Thursday she got married, and the DH (and to a small extent, I) was the photographer. We had to travel four and a half hours to get to the place of the service and reception, a 4H camp at the other end of the state. Unfortunately, we couldn't go out there the night before because I had class. So after a long-ish drive, we got to the camp a bit early so DH could change into his suit. The nice folks at the dining hall where the reception was to be held let us in, and we got ready. We expected the bride no later than three.

The service was to be held in an open air amphitheater that was truly lovely. I took this shot shortly after we got there. The day was gorgeous, if a trifle nippy out. The sun was shining, the sky was a crystal-clear blue, and we sat and watched chipmunks run, and dozens of goldfinches play in that big evergreen you see. And we waited. Laura is chronically late. We were called and told there were wardrobe and hair issues, and basically the bride wouldn't be there until right before the service. This presented an issue for us only because we were losing light fast, and the temperature was dropping accordingly. We did get shots of the groom, Eric, and his groomsmen. He wasn't fazed by Laura's being late at all.

As we were waiting, a woman brought her camera up and asked one of the groomsmen to take her picture with Eric. I thought it was maybe an aunt, because she was wearing a skirt with a basic cardigan, and her hair pulled back in a gray, flat ponytail. I went ahead and snapped the shot too, and good thing. Turns out to have been his mother! He made some comment about Laura being late, and I laughed and said, "You didn't expect Laura to be on time, did you?" Mother answered very tersely, "Yes!" Rut-roh. So I waited a beat and replied, "Hope springs eternal." Eric busted up laughing, and so an uncomfortable moment passed.

The wedding began, and the girls looked lovely. Laura had chosen fall shades for her bridesmaids, and the gowns looked Victorian, all ruched up in the back in scallops. Just gorgeous. My nephew and little niece were ringbearer and one of the flower girls. The service was a nice traditional one, but everyone was getting very cold. After the receiving line the guests made gratefully for the dining hall as the wedding party had more photos done in the waning light. I just love the artistry of this one.

The reception was rather surprising in its simplicity. Knowing Laura and her mom I expected things to be a bit more on the lavish side, but it suited the venue. Dinner was served family-style. The DJ, IMHO, sucked. He not only started and finished with a commercial for himself, but then, as everyone is eating, suddenly blurts out that it's time for the toast, and thrusts the microphone in the best man's hand while the poor guy is still chewing! After the cake cutting, he announces that the staff is cutting the cake. I burst out in loud laughter (couldn't help it!) and corrected him...the two women doing the cutting were my other two sisters, both clearly not wearing the polo shirts and pants that the 4H staff were. The idiot hardly played any slow songs all evening, which I hate to see at a wedding. Yeah, you want to party, but you also want to dance close with the one you love.

I did get to do something I haven't done since my early with my father. Unlike most men of MY generation, the man can dance. And I was so ridiculously proud of myself that I didn't miss a step with him. The rest of the night all my siblings and I did a lot of dancing together. I even got one or two in with the DH once he was off-duty. I was so sore the next day! And not just from the dancing.

No alcohol was served. Which makes what happened to me so ridiculous - I fell on the dance floor! My shoes were a bit big on me, and I blamed it on that, but the truth is, I tried to go a little too low and overbalanced. I landed most ungracefully, and on the arm that's been giving me fits anyway. Of course, I had to get up and keep dancing or have everyone worry about me, and put a damper on the fun. What a trooper I am, I say, modestly.

Afterward, we headed to our hotel to make sure we got the images off-loaded safely. Nice room in the Hampton Inn, but I wish I'd known they had a pool. That's such a restful way to wind down. Up the next morning, breakfast, and on the road. My darling DH had encouraged me to look for yarn shops, and we stopped at one in Fairmont. The stupid place was closed, so that, and I quote the sign, "I can spend Halloween with my family. If it's a yarn emergency, or you made a special trip, please call and I'll be right there." Good grief. You know the kids, if any, were in school, so what's that about? And no, I was not arrogant enough to call. Okay, I am but I didn't. Next thing she'll take off for Arbor Day.

So on to another shop in Morgantown, small selection and garrulous shop attendant. I bought just enough to be polite and make a shrug for Jess, as she is NOT getting the alpaca one I finished for myself on the drive home. I got some very nice soft acrylic/polyamid that is more in keeping with her laundering preferences. She likes it, so all's well. I found another yarn shop that got rave reviews, but had no time to stop. We were all meeting up for lunch with my mother, so the sister from GA could see her for her birthday. So at 1pm ,mom, DH, me, both sisters, one BIL, two nieces, and the one niece's fiance' all had lunch.

On to the studio to grab our football announcing bag, mad dash home to let out the dogs (Jess had stayed with them for us), then on to announce the senior-night football game. We were playing a team that was 9-0. We were 2-6. And damned if we didn't beat 'em! It was a very tight game, back and forth, our guys playing like they hadn't all season. We were tied in the last minutes, and sure we were headed for overtime, when one of our players who'd been just stunning all night intercepted a pass and ran 65 yards to score. I was hoarse from cheering, and the whole team swarmed the field. Just incredible.

Yesterday was Mom's birthday, and we did some shopping while the DH shot yet another wedding. Joyce has my name for Christmas and bought me a cardigan I tried on that looks mahvelous on me. Wench is making me wait for it though. :-/ Then we had our joint birthday dinner at our place. My eldest and her family, Mom, my next youngest sister and I all pigged out on steak, shrimp and the fixin's, including a Key Lime cake. Since my birthday is Thursday (I know your present is on the way), I received a gorgeous purple pashmina from mom, and some very sweet opal earrings from Joyce. This morning they were off for PA, only returning once for Mom's book and coat. LOL

Today is vegging. I'm wiped out! Now, where's the rest of that cake?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Camo's Hoodie

C'est fini. I finished sewing it up today, and decided to go ahead and throw in the optional kangeroo pocket. He's cute, he loves me, and he makes the sun rise, so I think he's worth it.

As I mentioned before, the multi-colored yarn is my own handspun. It's some of the first stuff I did, and while it's thick/thin in areas, and overspun in others, I'm really delighted with how it knit up. The solid blue is actually more of a royal. To tie everything together, I did the two stripes of handspun on all the areas I needed to do in solid. Since I'm vertically challenged, I had to stand on a ladder to get the whole sweater in, and even then I missed the end of one sleeve. Oh well.
Camo's birthday is next month, and I think I'll find a little matching shirt for him to wear under this to keep him nice and warm this winter. I think it'll fit him next year, too. Just gotta remember to sew one of my "Made With Love" labels inside it, but not at the collar. I'll use the side seam, where it won't scratch him.
Next I finish my socks, then start the Fiesta Mittens. I SO need more knitting time!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It IS West By God Virginia, After All

Having had a week to recover, I just had to share my experience officiating a wedding last Saturday. The only person I'd met from this event prior to the date was the bride. She hired me on our first day in the new studio and was a very pleasant person with whom to deal. (man, proper grammar can be tortuous!) We met again a week before the service. She mentioned that she'd rather start about 15 minutes after the official start time, because she knew her guests, and there would be stragglers. Okay, said I.

On the day, all gussied up in an official but dressy-looking pantsuit, I arrive at the local hotel where the wedding is being held. Not one of our more up-market locations, I knew what to expect having done a wedding there before. I walk in, see a young man in fairly nice dress sitting near the ballroom, and ask him if he knows where the bride is. Sure, says he, and proceeds to take me to her.

To get to the room, you have to key in a code on the hall doorway. He keyed it over and over, and it didn't work. Finally one of the bridesmaids opens the door, telling him he transposed a number. He walks me to the bride's door, knocks, tells them the minister is here and walks away so as not to see the bride. I wait. And wait. Finally I knock again, explain that I am actually standing here, not just in the building, and would like a word with the bride. After ascertaining that I'm alone, they let me in.

I like to see the bride before the service for a couple reasons, especially when, as with this couple, there was no rehearsal. As an aside, unless your wedding is tiny and NO children under 12 are involved, have a rehearsal. Anyway, I like to let the bride see that I'm present and show an oasis of calm demeanor in the chaos that is typically surrounding her. I check for any last minute changes, remind her that no matter how people are pushing her, nothing starts without her, and re-establish how word will get to me that she is indeed ready to start. I get the license, which must be in my hands before the service can be done. All that done, I clear out of the way.

I headed to the ballroom to check out the arrangements in there. I walked in the door to be assailed by the strong smell of bacon, of all things. People are milling around in everything from formal wear to Nascar gear. The arch is nicely decorated, the cake is set up with a twirling cake topper, and the head table is pretty. Everyone else will be seated at tables to watch the service.

Looking around, I see one man the right age to be the groom that's in the right clothing. He's drinking a beer, from a can, in, heaven help us, a cooler-style cozy. It's very apparent that it's not his first. Not that he's incapacitated by any means (I wouldn't do a service if he were; it wouldn't be legally binding), but he's a bit lit. Clinging to his leg is the couple's small son, about age 2, the ringbearer. Said son is very fussy, although dad says he's had a long nap that day. I consolingly reply that it's a lot of strange goings-on for a little one, as I watch with a faintly horrified eye has Junior picks his nose and proceeds to have his own little feast for one. Dad scolds him, and tries to farm him out to a willing helper, but Junior is at that unlovely stage where kids discover the joy of screaming. We let him cling to Daddy.

Someone mentions how good the food smells. Yes, it's all being set up already, like a picnic brought inside. I make my bacon smell observation and am informed that that's because there's a roasted pig back there. I take their word for it. I also listen to remarks that the Mother of the Bride (MoB) is ticked off because the FoB (you work it out) has been drinking already. I get the sense that he shouldn't be drinking at all. But the groom says, "What's he supposed to do when everyone else is having beer?" I refrain from expressing my opinion. I'm feeling almost saintly in my restraint.

The saintliness continues through two more encounters. First, I'm told by the groom and some guests that there's another wedding going on in a different room...and the color scheme for everyone but the bride is camouflage. One guest says with an odd sense of pride, "I told everyone that they're the West Virginia wedding, and we're the Redneck wedding!" Oooookay. Then I'm flagged down by a faintly familiar looking woman. She reminds me that we've done photography for her family before...when we shot her daughter's FIRST wedding a couple of years ago. I wince a bit.

I busy myself filling out the license, and watch the flower girls racing around the room, almost toppling the arch. I help the 'videographers' set up camera angles. And as it gets to be time, one of the bridesmaids tells the groom and I to come out to the lobby, the bride is almost ready and we'll formally walk in. We get out there, and I send the bridesmaid in to ask if the bride is ready to start. She doesn't come back. As the groom wanders off, I send one of the older boys in the wedding party...he doesn't return. While I'm standing alone, I hear a loud noise outside the big entry windows. I turn my head, and am flabbergasted to see an ATV being driven past, beer cans and old boots tied on back. A man whom I assume to be the groom in full camo is driving, as the bride, all in a formal gown, clings to his back and grins like a loon. It's official. I've seen it all.

Finally the groom saunters back, and I send in the bride's dad, who backs out quickly, because she's about to walk out with her groom there! I put a halt to that, and get ready to walk in with the groom. The FoB, definitely a bit worse for that forbidden beer, makes to come with us. I remind him that his daughter might actually like his escort. As we go back in, I ask one of the women who've been arranging things to have everyone be seated, corral a groom who wants to socialize some more, and get things started. The mother of the groom is seated and loudly scolds her husband, the best man, for not having his collar buttoned and his tie at half mast. He answers equally loudly that he can't button it, and the groom backs him up. Then the bridesmaids come in an outside door...and the DJ has vanished. No music is playing, and these girls come down the aisle like they're getting ready to clear a ditch on all four hooves. I sigh, unnoticed.

The little ringbearer comes down, races to Daddy howling, and refuses to let go. I tell the groom to leave him, knowing it will be worse if we try to move him. Then the two flower girls, sisters and adorable. They have lovely silk fall leaves in their basket, and the younger, in front, is clueless. Everyone tries to coach her. Ringbearer sees the older girl dropping her leaves, thinks it's intriguing, and goes to help. Littlest girl drops one or two, and raises her hand to her hair in befuddlement, leaving one leaf as big as half her head stuck in her hair. I laugh, but so does everyone. As she looks around to figure out why we're all laughing, she sees Big Sis dropping leaves, and promptly starts to pick them back up and put them in her basket.

We finally get them down the aisle, and in comes the bride, looking lovely. Her Dad looks wasted. I start the service, and Junior begins wailing. I speak over him, pausing when his parents try to comfort him. This, folks, is the best argument for marriage before children. He continues to scream, and when one line in the service refers to future trials, I make an audible aside and say, "Or even present ones!" This has the effect of cracking everyone up, showing them I'm not upset, and calming the bride and groom. Someone sweeps the little guy away long enough for us to get through the ring portion, and he's back, holding on like a leech, as they share their first kiss as husband and wife. *shew*

I grab my stuff, give the bride her portion of the license and tell her I mail the court copy for her. I give her a hug, and she is profuse in her thanks, and then I dart out the side door to the parking lot. Thinking I've made my escape, I see one of the bridesmaids coming out the front, sobbing her heart out. She's in her late teens, and I'm at a loss as to what's wrong. Figuring that I'd better act my ministerial role, I ask if she needs some help. But the mother of the groom comes out and goes to her, and I'm off the hook. I duck into my car and bolt.

A few days later, I got an email from the bride. I quote (sic):

"I just wanted to thank you for performing our ceremony. We enjoyed everything. And despite the chaos surrounding the beginning, we still thought it went well. Thank you for waiting and being so patient while we straitened everything out. We had a wonderful day. We resolved a payment issue with our dj after a conversation about the ceremony music that didn't get played. He also didn't play anything for the bouquet and garter toss or the cake cutting. It was still nice. Oh, and our cake table caught on fire! But believe it or not, we took everything with a laugh and had such a good time. Thanks again for everything."

That was, if you'll pardon the pun, the icing on the cake.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Follow-ups & Birthday Knitting

We told the AD we'd settle for a written apology from the dorkbean coach. DH mentioned the pizza joke, and the AD countered with an invitation to a tailgate party...funny, because it's open to EVERYONE. So we'll see.

AND I finally got a response from the Holiday Inn on the bedbug incident, after writing to corporate again about receiving no answer from that hotel manager. They said they investigated the room and found no insects. Well, duh. Three weeks later one would hope that bedspread had been washed! That's the only thing that I laid upon that the DH didn't. Anyway, as a gesture of goodwill, they credited us back about 25% off the room fee. I can live with that. And you can bet I'll never lay down on a hotel bedspread again. When I told my MIL about this, she said the first thing the DH's dad did on entering a hotel room was to remove the bedspread and blankets. Wish I'd known that earlier, but what a dreadful commentary when rooms cost so darn much!

Oh, I found that pattern for the mittens I liked in the one shop (which they didn't have yarn for but left on display). They are called Fiesta Mittens by Lucy Neatby. Her kit pricing was kinda steep for a) something I'd never attempted before and b) a pair of mittens. So I bought the kit from Blackberry Ridge with their fingering weight. I think it's next on my list for a quick knit.

On the knitting front, I'm working feverishly and pretty well exclusively on a birthday gift for my adorable grandson Camo. I'm using my own handspun and Paton's Merino. I knew there wouldn't be enough handspun for the hoodie his mom selected, so I'm using the Paton's for the sleeves and hood, with two stripes of the handspun on those areas to tie it all together. I have a few more rows on the hood, finishing sewing, and ribbing around the hood edge to be done. I'm pleased it's going so well, since I have a month yet till his fifth birthday.

I did sweat a little, though, when I had to RIP OUT THE ENTIRE FRONT!!! Oh, the pain, and all of it my own fault. The pattern, a freebie from Lion Brand, has both kids and adults sizing. Being oh, so clever, I went through and marked the numbers pertaining to Camo's size. Folks, that only works if you mark the right number! On the cast on for the front (knit after the back), I unknowingly marked the adult large. And knit, and knit, all through the drive to OBX and back, wondering why it was taking so much longer to knit than the back had. Finally, just as I'm about to do the neckline shaping, I think to hold it up to the back. The curling of the stockinette had prevented me from realizing that the front was a third again bigger than the back! So I frogged the whole thing, and started over.

All's well now, though, and as soon as it's done, washed and blocked, I'll post you a picture.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Following Up

Quick update on the coach thingy...The AD called yesterday (Mon. was a holiday) and was adamant that he wants us to stay. We play no music we don’t want to play. He claims the disc we were given MAY have been a different one than the head coach listened to, which I’m fairly sure is a face-saving piece of BS. Supposedly the one we were given was a different color. The AD also says he was shown a CD that the person presenting it said would be okay to play except for three tracks, and oddly, they're the three we found objectionable. How coincidental!

Then he left it to us what we want done about the coach. Both of us have backed away from making the little twerp come grovel to could only be awkward. I think we’re going to go with him admitting he was over the line, and leave it there. I suggested slices of pizza from the concession stand might help, but the DH laughed at me. LOL

In the meantime, we heard through the booster-mom-grapevine that that same little twerp coach is the subject of DAILY phone calls to the AD or head coach by one mom. She apparently objects to him using foul language at the players. Go figure.

Now on to two amazing bits of entitled behavior. First, yesterday we have the mother of a senior arrive with no warning to pick up her daughter's pictures. That's okay; we don't require an appointment for that. But what made this particularly fun was that the mother went on to say that Daddy Dear had dropped the final payment check in the mail that very day, but since she was in the area so rarely and happened to be today, could she go ahead and pick up the pictures? ROFLMAO! Um...that would be a 'no.' She tried to debate that with the receptionist. "I don't know when I'll be back this way." Don't much care. I'm fairly sure your daughter will make sure you're back here pretty darn soon! As the DH aptly put it, why don't we go to the gas station, telling 'em we'll be sure to come back tomorrow and pay them for letting us fill up today? Unreal what people think they should be able to pull. To be fair, and I'm all about the fair, the check DID arrive today. So she can pick the pictures up anytime. Now. Although my deeply suspicious side makes me think I should call her bank and make sure it's good after this stunt.

The second bit was from an online order for some wedding pictures. The woman ordered one 8x10, one 5x7, and a few 4x6s. By no means a large order, especially for a wedding. We get to the end of the order, where there's a customer comments section, and she has written, "Can I get a discount because I'm the mother of the groom?" Are you nuts, lady? Who else but family is going to order? And a puny little order like that from your SON'S wedding? We offered advance sale packages that offer a discount, and she didn't avail herself of any of those, so that ship sailed.

I never cease to be amazed at the people who think they should be allowed to take money out of my pocket for the flimsiest of excuses. Like I care that she spawned the groom. He looks like a turtle anyway. Come to think of it, maybe that's why she didn't order any large pictures. Hmmm.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No Good Deed

I'm sure most of you are finishing the phrase, "goes unpunished." Exactly. Let me tell you about our Friday night.

For many years, the DH was the announcer for the local high school softball teams. Our girls played, we were in the boosters, the whole schmear. The DH has a wonderful voice and being him, did it up right. He got a sports sounds program that is used professionally, at his own cost, and went to town. He became very popular, and I was proud.

So popular that the varsity football boosters came courting. Would DH do the home game announcing? Including pre-game show music, and all that jazz? Would he? You betcha. He asked me to be his spotter, and once I found out it didn't mean cleaning stains out of carpets, I said sure. What it does mean, for those of you as ignorant as I was, is the person who helps the announcer know who is in the middle of the play, running, tackling and the like. I get to use binoculars and feel important. :-)

Now, we've been doing these games for four years, and to be immodest, we rock. Okay, the DH rocks, but I sit beside him. He has pet phrases that are hugely popular, the crowd roars for them, and he really keeps them upbeat in spite of only one win this season. The music he plays is a good mix of classic rock and contemporary stuff, his sound effects are short, he does a great job, and all as a volunteer. We close the studio two hours early on game nights, and forfeit a fair chunk of potential income as a result, but it's our way of giving back.
One thing that has been a two-prong policy as long as we've been doing this for any sport. We are there for the fans, not the athletes whom we assume should be concentrating on the game, and we do not play music the kids bring us. The AD (Athletic Director) has always backed us on this, because we simply don't know what obscenity-laden piece of crap might be on that home-made CD. We don't chance it. So we've always told the kids, sorry, not without the AD's approval, and subject to our hearing it first. It's our reputation on the line; parents aren't going to be mad at the AD, or the music provider, but at us for playing it.

Last week we went through it again. Kids bring CD, we explain policy, kids leave. All's right with the world. Then last night, what looked to me to be the same kids and CD come up to the booth, and tell us that the CD has been approved by the head coach. We inform them it has to be approved by the AD, and then we'll listen to it.
A few minutes later, an older looking but still very young man comes up, and tells us that the coach cleared it with the AD, and we are to play the music. He has a serious attitude on from the first word. DH explains we need to hear that from the AD, that we'll begin ripping the music in so our program CAN play it, but we won't until we hear from him. Young man gets more testy. "The coach said to play it!" DH informed him we don't answer to the coach, and in a perfect snit (I know snits well, this one was lulu), YM says, "I'll tell him you said so!" We laughed and said go ahead, so he leaves, stompin' his widdle feet as he goes.

We got a literal thumbs-up from the AD on the field and started ripping in the CD accordingly. We still had no intentions of playing it without review for a couple of reasons. First, the football coach is a belligerent hothead and we had serious doubts that he'd listened to the CD. Second, as I stated before, it's our tails on the line, not his. BTW, and to give you an idea of the man's personality...colleges that want to recruit players send letters for the players to their coaches. It's protocol, then the coach passes them on. This one is so twisted that he KEEPS them and says nothing. One of the star players and a client of ours actually got wind of it, and snuck in and took them out of the coach's office. Which we heard about from his furious mother!

DH begins listening to the first few tracks as the rest rip in. Track one we already play, so duh. Track two is dull, but okay. The third is completely unacceptable. Called "I'm Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass" , it repeats that phrase over and over. Can you imagine that going out over a stadium sound system? With little kids there? As I said to the DH, if a kid said that in the hallway of the school, they'd be in trouble, and we're supposed to play it on the field? Nope.
As we make this judgment, YM returns, more pissy than ever. "Play the music, you got the okay!" DH explains that we're not done ripping it in, that we have the first three tracks done, and he's interrupted..."Then play them!" First, DH says, we don't play music as the band is coming into the stadium as they are now. Never. It's a courtesy, because, duh, the BAND is playing music. Then he adds that we won't play track 3, and why. YM gets ballistic. "Yes you will! You were told to!" Excuse me? DH reminds him that we are volunteers, we have a responsibility to not play objectionable material. "You're just volunteers, and you were told to by two officials!" he blusters. We reiterate we will play other tracks, but not that one, and as YM gets more aggressive, posturing WAY too closely into my personal space, DH tells him he wants him to leave. "I don't have to leave! I'm a COACH!!!"
WTF??? This is the first time he's identified himself as anything to us, and I swear to you, I would never have thought him to be a coach. We've never seen him before, and I'm still amazed he has the nerve to talk in this manner to people volunteering their time, let alone people old enough to be his parents, pretty sure. And honest to Pete, wouldn't you think coaches of a team that after last night is 1-5 would have better things to worry about before a game?

He finally did leave, realizing that with the band just below the press box there was no way we were going to start any music. He stomped back to the head coach and we saw him mouth something up at us. Luckily for him we have no idea what it was. Later we saw them all in confab with the AD, but we heard nothing more. And btw, after the band was quiet, we did play one of the tunes, but hey, the team wasn't on the field to hear it by then. Which is exactly why we play music FOR THE FANS, not them.

Today, my extremely easy-going husband wrote a strong letter to the AD, outlining what had happened. And you better believe he copied the booster's president on it. Did I mention that she's the quarterback's mom, and utterly loves both our work (we did his senior pics, including an awesome special effect shot) and what we do in the press box? He pointed out that we followed policy of years' standing, what we give up to be there, and that volunteers shouldn't have to put up with that kind of harrassment. He continued, stating that we felt abused, disrespected and that he expected a personal apology from that wet-behind-the-ears coach (alright, that's me, he didn't characterize him as such) to both himself and to me.

And I thought I was proud of him before. I'll let you know what happens. At least the three of you who may care.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You Know You Gotta Vote

This is wonderful. You have to watch. Really. Trust me.

If you aren't registered, DO IT NOW. If you are, VOTE. Because I'll tell you what. If you come to me to complain about any facet of our government, if you come to gripe, bitch, snipe, grouse...and you haven't voted? I'm gonna kick your ass right out my door.

Seriously. And don't even THINK of kvetching if you don't vote.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Yarn Overdose

As I mentioned in the prior post, I hit four yarn shops before I even saw the ocean on my trip to the Outer Banks. I even showed admirable restraint in not going to a fifth. But pretty much that was ALL the restraint I showed.

First, you have to understand, I have no local yarn shop (known in knitting parlance as LYS). The closest ones to me are close to an hour away, and for the most part, are closed when our studio is closed, and I am therefore free to visit them. So getting to actually go to a LYS and fondle the yarn, see the color without wondering if the monitor is changing it, contrast and compare and ask questions, is pure heaven. And so I did, DH frequently wandering to neighboring shops, but returning to act out his Sherpa duties. :::wink:::

I found the differences between the shops to be fascinating, because at two I felt right at home, and at two, while perfectly pleasant, I was not comfortable. And my purchases reflect that.

The first shop I visited was in Richmond, The Yarn Lounge. I had liked their website, an important necessity in this day and age. I walked into a shop that had yarn all around the walls, not tons, but a nice selection. A few needles and tools, and a huge central table. I felt welcomed, that they were interested in me, and not pushed. We talked about A Fine Fleece and one of the ladies showed me the front and back of a sweater from it that she was doing in a yarn called Imperial Stock Ranch. Amazingly, she'd only used two skeins for a 44" bust cabled sweater. This yarn says 200+ yards in a skein, but it has to be considerably more. It's from Oregon, made from Columbia sheep. I got four skeins of it in 2 ply in a shade called Canyon Shadow Blue. I also got two skeins of Malabrigo worsted in Tuareg, a color I also have already in their lace weight. Here's a shot of what I got. The colors are a bit washed out, so I encourage you to look at the website.

My next yarn shop didn't hit me nearly as well. It was Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg, which I found entirely by accident when we stopped for coffee. It's in a cluster of very artsy fartsy shops called Village Shops at Kingsmill. Although the help was quite polite, they weren't warm, you know? I'm always irked when a shop has a sample out that they don't have the yarn to make. I fell in love with a colorwork mitten that was solid with tiny insets of multicolored yarn. They had tons of the multi, almost none of the solid. But they tried to push a kit on me for another, totally different mitten. Nice, it's in Vogue and I liked it, but not what I wanted. When I asked about another yarn, they didn't have it and waved me toward another that wasn't really similar at all. The shop was busy, and the staff was helpful toward most everyone, but I just didn't feel the love. I cannot pin it down better than that, but I can show you that all I bought was two skeins of Noro that I think are destined for some mittens.
This is showing a bit brighter than actuality, but you get the idea.

The next shop was recommended to me by the ladies at the Yarn Lounge, and bless them for it. It was my favorite. Called Knitting Addiction, it's a wonderful, roomy shop, as the picture on their home page shows. They even kept their pretty cat away from me, since I'm allergic. I fell in love with the colorways of Ellyn Cooper, and found a shop pattern (free with the yarn) to make a vest with her Cotton Ripple in Blue Hydrangea plus some Mission Falls cotton. Here you see half what I bought to make it.

All the solid shades of Mission Falls appear in the Cooper yarn in the center. While I was picking them out, the shop owner had already wound the Cotton Ripple!

I saw another quickie pattern, a shrug, that looked perfect for keeping winter chill off in the office, and got it with some Plymouth Brushed Baby Alpaca. It's a lovely gray.

Last, I visited a shop on the Manteo waterfront called Fine Yarns at Kimbeeba. This was a smallish shop but with some nice yarns and another very good website. Again, I didn't feel as at home here, but I did get helpful service. She didn't have the Berroco yarn I wanted, but showed me a couple good substitutes, and even showed me one yarn, an Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, that would be about half the others, especially once I got her 15% off for ten skeins or more.Unfortunately, I felt pressured by the shop attendant (owner?) to purchase some very nice Noro sock yarn that I didn't want or need, and that was off-putting, but she did toss in an entralac pattern which was nice.

Thinking back, the thing my two preferred shops (and I emphasize, all four were nice and had helpful aspects) had over the less-preferred was that I didn't feel condescended to. I am pretty yarn-savvy. I run three knitting lists, but in the two shops where I was less comfortable, the staff ASSUMED a lack of knowledge on my part. It seems to me to be a healthier attitude to assume I have a yarn background, and if I have to ask more questions, then go more in-depth with explanations. Or simply ask how much help understanding various yarns I might need.

Assume I'm smart. I'll like you better. More important, I'll spend more. *sigh* Probably more than I should.


For the cognescenti, that stands for Outer Banks, and it will often be seen in stickers and magnets on including mine, since the DH and I got back late yesterday from our first vacation in seven years.

It was wonderful. Other than basic outlines, we made no plans. Considering how structured most of our life has to be, that was wonderful. We left after our last appointment on Thursday, and headed south, thinking we'd spend that night at about the halfway mark. We stopped for dinner, then found a hotel. A Holiday Inn; nothing fancy, but we were just going to sleep, get up, eat and go.

Well, it wasn't too fancy, for sure. When I awoke, my back was covered with some kind of bites. I can only assume from bed bugs, since they most certainly weren't there when I went to sleep. When the DH informed the front desk at checkout, their response was a cavalier, "Sorry about that!" Yes indeedy, a letter to corporate will be sent.

Before leaving the Richmond area, we went to one of the two yarn shops I had found on the 'Net. In fact, I ended up visiting FOUR yarn shops before I ever saw the ocean...I intend to blog on all that a bit later. Then we thought we'd head over to Williamsburg and have some lunch, maybe a bit of a walk around, before finishing our journey, since check-in was after four. I thought it would be nice to eat at the Kings Arms Tavern, because we'd eaten there on our first anniversary trip, thirteen years ago.

Yeah, well, it was a good plan. If we'd had a map so we knew how to park near there. We didn't, so we parked at the visitor's center, planning to walk over. It was hugely muggy out, and after picking up a map, we realized it was WAY more of a hike than we wanted to take, so the darling DH went back for the car, arranging to pick me up at an underpass just ahead. While I waited, I got this lovely shot with my tiny digital.

Don't you just love the play of light? And if we hadn't goofed, I never would have seen it. That became a recurring theme...we'd go off in a wrong direction, and end up with some beauty we never expected.
As we headed on down the road, it was raining on and off. We weren't worried; we knew it was due to clear, and basically, we weren't going to melt. But then we got quite a sign. If you were going on vacation and saw this over the direction you were heading, wouldn't you feel pretty confident?

It was a full rainbow, both left and right, and including the slight ghosting of a second one. Just lovely!

Unfortunately, our gaffe at Williamsburg meant we were caught in rush hour heading around Norfolk and into the Chesapeake tunnel. We got into the Outer Banks after dark, and checked in, having dinner in the Ramada restaurant. Next morning, we got up and headed out for decent coffee (the room provided Maxwell House. We shuddered.) Did a little shopping, including two more yarn shops! - and then drove around a wildlife refuge. It was too late in the day to see much activity, but we did see some snowy egrets. My little camera couldn't get them, but the DH did get a few. I contented myself with a bit of scenery.
If you look beyond the reeds and to the left, you can see some white birdy blobs. :-)
We also went to Kitty Hawk and the Wright Memorial. I liked this view of the Memorial in the distance from the Visitor's Center.

We had a great meal at the Outer Banks Brewery that night. Scallops that were the tenderest I'd ever tasted, and a very good Porter for me. The DH, being a home-brewer, did a sampler of four of the other brews. Another notable meal was at Penguin Isle, a restaurant my cousin had recommended. We got up early enough to capture the sunrise over the ocean, and this place let us watch the sunset over Albemarle Sound. Utterly glorious, and the DH was in charge of capturing them.

One place we found with excellent, fresh roasted coffee was called The Front Porch. They had Kill Devil Hills roasted coffees, and this hysterical sticker on the toilet. Yes, I did go back out to grab my camera just to capture this.

We visited one of the Outer Banks lighthouses on Bodie Island. It's imaginatively called Bodie (pronounced body) Lighthouse. Did we climb it, you ask? Surely you jest.

We had a lot of fun, some romance, found some nice shells, even had a great round of miniature golf, at which, dear readers, I'm distressed to tell you, the love of my life cheated like mad. I still beat him. Life is good. It was even good when, sitting at the edge of the surf, I got a suit full of tiny pebbles. Some in places that I would have thought nothing could reach. :-X We watched plovers, and ghost crabs, and waves, and barely touched the books we'd taken.
Yesterday we had intended to spend a night on the road, but realized we'd rather be in our own bed. However, we had unfinished business. This time, address in hand, we found where we could park to eat at the King's Arms, and we did. Nice lunch, and a bit of a stroll around before a thunderstorm threatened. The DH was suitably punished for his cheating. His face is obscured to save my shame if he were identified in public. LOL
Coming up through VA yesterday evening we kept skirting what looked to be a nasty storm. I caught this shot through the windshield. But we got home safe and sound, much to the delight of the dogs.
The best thing is that we have very little post-vacation letdown. The DH's sweetie of a brother vacations at OBX and has invited us to join him for a few days next July. So we have THAT going for us!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gaelic Mist is Done!!!

Yesterday evening, the last day of summer, I finished my first ever knitted cardigan, Gaelic Mist. So just in time for fall, I have (if I do say so) a lovely sweater for when the chill hits. Which was NOT today.

I just washed and blocked it out on the spare bed, and couldn't even wait till it was dry and I'd sewn on the buttons to share it with you. Not that I'm bursting with pride, or anything.

A detail of the cabling that forms the bottom of the sweater, and shapes the waist slightly. It is meant to ruffle a bit at the bottom edge, and you'll notice I've pinned the button band to dry flat.

And the ends of the sleeve which mirror the sweater bottom. For those of you who care about such things, the yarn is Cestari DK weight in Heathered Forest. I used about five and a half skeins.

Since I couldn't wait until I put on the buttons, I decided to let you see them too.

The sweater requires five, and I got a sixth for safety. I am a HUGE sucker for things Celtic (you should see my many pair of silver Celtic knot style earrings!) and I thought these would go well with the cabling without being too busy. Feel free to agree with me. :-)

I'm so tickled with myself I can't see straight, and the DH keeps giving me that oh-so-masculine "You're being such a cute little woman" grin. So what do you think?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Very Punny

So this morning, the wee Sheltie we own is being even more clingy than usual. He's a neurotic mess, but loyal and loves the DH to distraction. Anyway, all morning Oreo has been under foot, about to get trampled, or trying to get up on our laps as we get ready for work.

After the umpteenth time telling Oreo to get down, get off, go lay down, the DH looked at me and deadpanned, "I think I have Freaktose Intolerance."

And I think *I* am the witty one!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Does Sarah

No, it's not a porn movie that most men would love to see. Instead, it's the funniest thing I've seen in ages. Tina Fey was parodying Sarah Palin on SNL last night. Take a look.

I'm assuming you know what SNL is if you're cool enough to read my blog. You are, aren't you?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

I'm the daughter of a history teacher. Dad had to give up teaching when he was a bit younger than I am now, and he suffered a stroke. Before that, he was articulate and persuasive. He saw history not as dull dates and events, but as the stories of people's lives. When you tell history from that perspective, I maintain that no one can remain indifferent. Washington and Jefferson put their pants on one leg at a time, and being able to think of them in those terms made everything they did both more human, and more awe-inspiring.

So today, the anniversary of arguably the most profound national event of my lifetime, it occurs to me that the true measure of 9/11 is not the massive event itself, but the myriad of personal stories and memories of that day. And being the historian's daughter, I wanted to get mine in writing too.

The morning of September 11, 2001, was beautiful. Many people have said that it was the kind of day that made you glad to be alive, and so it was. At that time, I was working part-time in a Behavioral Health Unit, and as I was driving to work, I was listening to the Imus in the Morning program. As I began to pull into the parking lot, there was a sudden report of a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers in New York City. At first, it was thought to be private plane. Bizarre, I thought, but who knows. A pilot might have had a heart attack, be would certainly be interesting to see what played out. I had no idea. None of us did. I turned off my engine, but left the radio on while I put on some lipstick before heading up the stairs to work. That split moment of time made all the difference, because Warner Wolf, an Imus regular, called in. He told Don that he'd seen the plane go by his apartment window, and it was no small aircraft, but a passenger plane, huge, and impossibly loud. He said from what he saw, it was no accident.

That changed everything. I turned off the radio, and bolted inside, going in an employee entrance, glad that I could because I didn't want to frighten any patients. One of the counselors in the practice, Peter, had a small television in his office, and I made a beeline there. He wasn't with anyone, and I told him to turn on his TV, quick, as I started to fill him in. Soon everyone not in a session was watching, having no idea just how much more surreal this day would become. We saw the second plane hit, and the towers crumble, one after the other, like eggshells. We saw the horror on the New Yorker's faces echoed on our own. And the rumors began of planes heading for Camp David, just to our north. One counselor got panicky...her child attended school near there, and she had to leave. No one blamed her. Then the word of Pentagon attack, just 60 miles from us. We all knew people there, or families that had members working there. It was all too much to take in. No one could turn away.

After we got the TV on, and saw the first tower burning, I called my husband. He was doing pro bono photography work for our local United Way's Day of Caring. He ended up being the one to break the news to all those people. After the second plane hit, I heard that one of them was believed to be from American Airlines. My ex flies for them, and I was suddenly terrified that he had been on that plane. Not a good relationship, ours, but still, he is the father of my children. I called his home, and kept getting a busy signal, but finally got his then-wife on the phone. He had gotten home late the night before, and was fine. I thanked God.

I left around lunch time, my shift being up, and went to our studio, where the DH waited for me. We held each other, and we cried. We couldn't turn off the radio; we had to constantly know what was happening. For days we all watched as the victims of the attacks, and the heroes who tried to save them were brought out of the rubble. And we cried. We began to hear those individual stories, the near-misses who stopped for a cup of coffee, or a band-aid, and missed being inside the tower. The persons who missed those flights, and the ones who made them. The phone calls, full of fear, resignation, and ultimately, messages of love for those who'd be left behind. And the incredible bravery of those who refused to let their flight be the instrument of evil. We all questioned our inner hearts, wondering what we would have done, who we'd have called, what we would have said. And we cried.

I remember, days after 9/11 as I sobbed yet again, saying to my DH that I wondered how I still could have so many tears left in me...that surely I should have cried them all out by now. And on every anniversary, as I watch ceremonies of remembrance, I think this will be the year that I'll finally be done grieving. I won't need to cry.

As this morning, and the writing of this post prove to me, this is not that year. Not yet.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Oughta Be Working

But I thought I take a few moments and share some Camo-isms with you. My grandson is seriously smart, the kind of smart that can get people around him in trouble, because it's dang hard to keep a straight face when you'll need to. Since you don't need to, I'll tell them to you.

A couple of days ago, Camo called his other grandma, who to him is Nonni, and informed her that he would like her to come over and play with him. She was in the middle of something and told him she couldn't come, but offered a raincheck of sorts. She told him he could come over the next night and spend the night with her.

Camo's response? I quote, "Hold on a second. That's not what I said!" ROFL Can't you just hear the indignation?

But one I enjoyed even more happened a couple months ago, around the time he hit the ripe age of four and a half.

Since he was in his second year, his mother, my DD, had him as her voice mail message. You could faintly hear her prompting him in the background as his little voice said, "We're not here right now. Leave a message, and we'll call you back." All with slight hesitations, but still pretty clear for his age.

I had mentioned to DD that as he got older, she should update the message, but still using him. So I was very surprised when I called, got her voice mail, and the voice in the message was her. I left my message for her, and expressed my surprise that Camo was no longer on there.

A couple hours later, she calls me back. First she responds to my reason for calling her, then says, "Oh, and you want to hear about my incoming call message?" Why yes, sez I. She then tells me that she too thought it was time for Camo to update. So she erased the old message, then asked him to come record a new one with her. He looked up at her, and informed her that he was "not in the mood."

Not in the mood? Not in the MOOD?!? How hysterical is that? I laughed until I cried...he's four years old, for cripes sakes. What moods does he have other than happy, sad, mad or frustrated? Oh, how funny! Not in the mood.

Maybe his muse just wasn't on him. You can't rush those things, ya know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Freecycle, Redux.

I've posted before about my disgruntlement with my local Freecycle group. But over the last month, I've been pushed just about to my limit. It's probably my strong stubborn streak that's kept me going this long.

A bit of background, first. One of the main Freecycle rules is that you should not ask for high price items. It's a rule broken constantly and with impunity on our list. About six weeks ago, someone posted requesting a riding lawn mower, any condition as long as it runs. Her brother and her sons wanted to tinker with one for some kind of race you wouldn't catch me watching at the county fair. It so happens that I have a disreputable but running mower, and I offered it. Long story short, a week of telling me she'd be there, or her brother would...and I still have the freakin' mower. She claims to be in seriously ill health, her brother got stuck in traffic, yada yada. If she is ill, I'm sorry, and I've told her so...multiple times. Still doesn't mean that she couldn't have contacted me, or leaned on her brother to live up to his word.

Next, a woman posts that her new home only has wood heating. She wants us to donate deadwood to her, and she & her DH will pick it up, even cut down dead trees for the right to the wood. Okay, we have a couple of dead pines that need cleared out, so I emailed her. And heard nothing. One of our employees needed extra money for school, so we paid him to take down the most pressing one. Over five days later the wench writes back and says she THINKS they will take the wood, and she'll probably write to me at the end of the week for directions. I gave her a polite and pithy bit of advice - when someone offers you something, you doggone well have the courtesy to respond right away, and you do not leave them hanging!

Last, within the same month, I offered a lamp. It was too big, might need some wiring work, although it does work. A woman, who has been constantly begging for crap so we can all set her up in business in an ice cream parlour, jumped on it. Could be there the next morning. Fine, I gave her directions. I come home that evening, there it sits on my porch. No word from her, no apology, no nothing. I emailed the next person on the list, and she got it.

Now, we have seen a little more of the moderator than previously...BUT. She only appears when someone complains about an egregious violation of the rules, to scold the complainer! We should rest assured, sez she, that the rule breakers are being scolded off-list, and two strikes and they're out. I might buy that if I didn't see the same people doing the same crud over and over. Yesterday evening, someone had posted a service for hire, strictly verbotten, and several people (not I, I might add) jumped on her. The moderator, true to form, scolds them.

So, among others, I replied to that email today. I point out that if she told people ON the list when they were screwing up, others could take the lesson too, and maybe we'd have less of the violations going on. I also asked if there were something that could be done to cut down on no-shows.

I immediately got emails off list. First, from the tractor no-show, full of self-pity and sniveling that I should forgive her, and she'll buy me lunch. Of course, I really want to go to lunch and have this dingbat ruin my appetite. No thanks. If she were so worried about my forgiveness, she'd have emailed before, but not until I mentioned it to the list do I hear from her. I told her she didn't need me to forgive her; she'd taught me a lesson.

Another person told me that she found the onlist attacks more distressing than the original bad post...fine. Why tell me? I didn't post one! She then implied I was a moderator. Not. Any word over seven letters was misspelled. Having had enough, I informed her I wasn't moderator, I didn't respond to the original post, but simply asked the moderator a couple of questions. And guessed it!....snarky, I told her to learn to spell, or to get spell-check.

Next, a woman who has attacked me off the list multiple times now. In fact, I have an auto-response sent up for when she emails me. She took me to task for responding to the moderator's message on the list...which is where it was posted! I did a little research, and pointed out that I wasn't surprised that she disagreed with me. Over the last several months, she has asked for, I kid you not, a set of left-handed golf clubs, if you please, a lawn mower (no relation to the other one), a Game Box, all the supplies to throw her brat a party, and diving equipment!!! And that's only a fraction.

She writes back, full of rationalizations, telling me that she and her DH are volunteer EMT/Firefighters. As my BIL, a professional in those fields, would say, they're probably worth every penny. After maligning my character to a fare-thee-well, and informing me how morally superior they are to me, she finishes up with this (directly copied, so sic ad infinitum)...

"I sure hope you or your loved ones never need medical help from us, transportation to the hospital, are involved in a motor vehicle accident, or heaven forbid your house catches on fire. If only you gave as much as we do....and not materialisticIy.....I wish you continued bitterness....and may all the unhappiness, negativity, and sarcasm you spread come back to ou 2-fold!"

Now, that sounds remarkably like a threat to me, and to anyone with whom I shared it. She better PRAY I never find out what firehouse she is with, because I'll just bet they don't condone that behavior. All because she knows she's a greedy glutton, and worse, knows it's obvious to me, and therefore others.

If karma is real, and I happen to think it is, it's positively frightening what she may have in store for her. While I've let everything else go by, this I reported to the Freecycle moderator. If it were my list, and I run plenty, anyone threatening another member would be gone.

Let's see if she has the cojones to do just that. If not, well, I'm stubborn, but I'm not stupid.