Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Tuesday, September 30, 2003  

La, it feels like I’ve been away forever. Not true, of course, but that is how it feels. And my posting will continue to be spotty for a while longer. I’ll be with my folks for a few days while my dad has surgery and even if I could post, I probably won’t be much in the mood for it.

So - a quick catch up of knitting news. SGV is still not done. It’s at that “You think you will be done with me?!? I rather think not. stage all my knitting comes to. Deadlines? “Too bad”. Time issues. “Your problem, not mine.” I believe all my knitting projects are kissin’ cousins to Flidas.

I did pick up the last ball of purple yarn on Saturday. I’ve done both armbands and the shoulders. I haven’t any purple buttons (though I have some 100+ burgundy ones) and I can’t put in the button holes till I get them so I shall stop off at a fabric store today and pick some up. The issue, though, with SGV is I that I’ve tried it on and don’t like how the shoulders work. It may be that I just have to decrease those back-o-the-neck stitches to pull the shoulders in enough and then it shall be just right. Or it may be that I didn’t put enough underarm stitches on a thread when I began the shoulder portion of the sweater. Since I’ve cut the steeks, and since this yarn is hand spun hand dyed and since there is no more of it - this is just too bad for me. So - if after I’ve done the button bands, I still don’t like how the shoulders fit on me - I will make this into a sweater by knitting sleeves from the top down. A little dropped shoulder effect in a sweater is no bad thing. In a vest it is simply hideous (on me - looks like dorky wings). Sooooooo I’ll call Dana at GotYarn and tell her to set aside all the purple Aurora8 she has left and I’ll pick it up sometime while I’m in Richmond.

Ah well. All knitting is an adventure.

And who will know the shoulders aren’t flattering to me in the competition. I shan’t be there to model it. So I will hustle along with it - probably wash and block it on Wed. night and lay it out in the trunk of my car to dry. Ought to be ready by Saturday.

I’ve been spinning a little on some dark blue hand dyed angora blend roving Jen sent me. I love to obey fiber - probably the only thing I do enjoy obeying - and this fiber keeps telling me it wants to be spun as a single. Woooo. that’s not easy. Plying hides such a multitude of bad spinning. But when I work with the stuff it gets grumpy. I finally began knitting right off the wheel on a bit of the single, and with size 8’s it is very happy - although this is not thick spinning. It also has told me exactly what it wants to be knit into so after Saturday I will begin. I won’t say here - I’ll just surprise Jen with it. Heh. What a sweet thing to have - a secret surprise for someone.

Jen? I’ll bring you the tiny swatch on Saturday, though, along with the red lace scarflette and another swatch I’ve done. Saturday is the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival and unless Dad is not doing well, I intend to be there. 9:30 to deliver my entries, 10:00 for a class with Annie Modesitt, 12:30 for lunch with any Knitters Review Forumites who are there.

Tonight is supposed to be my WW meeting and it’s the first one I’ll have missed since I joined last May. Normally I’d make up a missed meeting by going to another one near by on Saturday but not this week. I’m of two minds about what to do - but I may hit a meeting at the WW center near my parents' house. (that’s what one mind thinks, the other probably doesn’t think at all). The big issue, though, is eating at my parent’s house. I didn’t learn to eat a diet of chocolate candy, ice-cream and mayonnaise on my own. Nearly every cubby, drawer, cabinet and jar is filled with high fat, high calorie, low nutrition food and when I visit, it’s reeeeealy easy to revert to early childhood and assume all decisions made by them are wise. The plan is to pack along all my own food so I can be sure of not instantly putting on all lbs. lost over the past 4 months. Sort of an exercise in adult behavior.

I’m put to mind of something OhWiseOne LD said last winter when he visited for a weekend ... “I don’t remember all these sodas and all this ice cream in the house when I lived here.” What is it about your kids leaving home that makes one instantly become a junk food junkie? Because, I don’t remember my folk’s house quite so full of sodas and ice cream when I was a kid either. My take on this is that when one is in charge of “raising healthy minds in healthy bodies” one makes sure the choices those minds have are limited to only what is good for them. Once that responsibility is gone we slip back into our natural child and gobble up SaturdaysAtTheMovies fare. After all, nobody is watching.

My final comment, on which I may elaborate at another time, is on all these damned black clothes in the stores. What is with this black stuff? It is just so ugly! It’s not chic, the way a slinky black dress is chic. It’s not even a rich vivid black color. It’s a flat, dull, lifeless shabby looking black. I have been doing a good bit of mall walking lately - way too many trips to the city, with a newly svelte figure to clothe - and for the life of me - every suit that exists is black. I am sure there are many blue eyed ash blondes who are happy to wear the only other color out there - taupe - but what in the world is wrong with having at least one item in every color each season, so that everyone can find something to buy. Any color in the warm half of the color spectrum would be welcome but good lord, just about all that is available is black. There is even a shop in one of the new up-scale malls that sells only black and white. Who on earth can be that colorless?

The last time I saw this much black was in London and it was the saddest thing. Everyone there looked like a robot. Perhaps this is the trend in LA or New York, but Lord preserve us in the south from the Black-and-White disease.

Ha! I knew I could find something to complain about. So there, Marg, that is the other sort of Virgo.

I hope folk don’t mind my teasing about horoscope signs and supposed personality traits so delegated to them. It has been all tongue in cheek and I hope that has been apparent.

If I’m silent for a while, you now know why. The world should right itself over the next week.

posted by Bess | 7:16 AM


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Thursday, September 25, 2003  

We’re still all sort of numb from Weather these days. My own moods are decided mercurial. Hurricanes then tornadoes means most folk are waiting for the third. Since it would be difficult for a fire to get started in this rain saturated world, it’ll probably be the new ice age that hits us next. The only knitting activity I got done yesterday was to pick up the shoulder stitches on SGV and to take 10 skeins of Waterspun to Lisa, who’s knitting a baby blanket for FirstChild’s FirstChild while sitting beneath a fallen tree which can’t be taken down till the crane gets here. This project has entailed massive artistic angst which leaves me slightly puzzled, but then, Lisa is the other sort of Virgo and her daughter is a triple Leo.

I did get the entry applications in the mail, so with good luck and steady effort, I’ll have a skein of Wenslydale and the SGV to take with me to the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival on Oct. 4th. In other festival news, one of my 4H girls entered a small knitted purse in the crafts competition of the State Fair, made from her own hand spun, hand dyed yarn. It is very pretty, thick yarn, but quite even, and dyed in a well balanced sequence of pinks, blues, and pale purples. I hope there is a judge who comprehends the entirety of her efforts, because it really is impressive. I’d love for her to get some sort of recognition. If she doesn’t I will insist that she enter it in our regional arts show this April.

Well - I’ve stared at this blank page for long enough. Obviously the muse has departed. And the nitty gritty that’s left over is either too dull or too private to lay out in text. Time to go do something else.

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM


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Wednesday, September 24, 2003  

One armband done, one to go, plus two shoulder seams and a button band. If I have enough yarn to finish all this, it will be a miracle. Of course, it would be a very minor miracle, so maybe there will be enough. I cut the center steek - it is much easier to do 3 needle shoulder seams with the front shoulders separated - and by golly - it’s a v-neck, alright!! I’m really pleased with the v-neck shaping. In a plain knit piece, v shaping is not particularly tricky but this is a slipped stitch hexagon patterned fabric - not only are there two different yarns and colors, but also, every 6th stitch is a long slipped stitch that crosses 6 rows of knitting. It’s an interesting piece of art mathematics, if I do say so myself.

The floodwaters went down by mid-day. Our road, a dirt lane, is rougher and bumpier than I’ve ever seen it. Poor BigDarling will have to do some serious roadwork soon. Fortunately, the road over Jacob’s Gut, the flooded stream, did not wash away. That would have required bulldozers and truth is - they are all impressed into hurricane cleanup work right now. Even after my own little flood subsided, the tar road up to the big highway was still underwater - just not too deep for me to drive through.

LittleDarling is out west now, missing all the WeatherExcitement, but he calls every Sunday with LD-ish tales of his adventures that have us laughing and secretly admiring - well, not really so secretly - I am sure he’s aware of how much we admire him. This long planned adventure of his is so typical of him - of how he’ll conceive an idea, work out the plans, assemble all necessary tools and equipment and then blithely go do it. It was all the more fantastic to watch him do this in high school, but it still staggers us parents to watch our widdle babeee go out and do cool things.

Another fun thing about grown up children is all the things they tell you they did, when they were still your responsibility - that you never knew about!! Lord, I’m glad I never knew. Whooee! But, in truth, I’m glad he did them .... well. maybe not the broken nose from jumping off the Downing Bridge (yeah, the big one that goes across the Rappahannock River) into the concrete pilings....

Anyway - it’s wonderful that he stays in touch. It’s even more wonderful that he’ll be living near by this winter.

Hmmmm. looks like there may be time to snap a photo or two ...

posted by Bess | 7:54 AM


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Tuesday, September 23, 2003  


Or perhaps I should say flooded in. Guess who's at home, knitting and playing on the Internet today, because the creek is over the road. Yup. 10 points for you.

Back to the SGV for me.


posted by Bess | 10:18 AM


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And what have the heavens decided to give us today?


Yep. It’s pouring down right now. No wind, just steady flooding rain. Thanks a bunch. After the summer of ‘02, with it’s weeks of killing drought - so bad the leaves fell off the trees in August!! - I can finally say I have had enough rain.

Life opened back up for me yesterday. Went in to work and was sooo glad to see nothing had gone haywire with our computer network - even Internet access was back up again by mid-morning. The wreckage from the storm grows worse the farther south one goes but is still not enough for the county to be declared a disaster. Tough on the dozen or so families who’s entire homes were either washed off their foundations or crushed beneath trees. I am really, really aware of how fortunate we were this go’round.

I am not knitting on the SGV. I’m not even sure why I’m not except it’s that old ENFP hate to finish it stuff. Or perhaps little knitting fairies are staying my hand each time I start to screw up. My wonderful mother had a saying about sewing and errors - After 4 mistakes, put it down. After that you grow frustrated and make 40 mistakes. A period of reflection will soothe your mind, relax tightening muscles, and frequently make obvious the little step you need to take to move forward.

And so it was for me. I was struggling with the first pick up of stitches for the armhole band - started with the wrong end of the ball - discovered a flaw in the yarn while picking up, realized I’d slid over into a different column of stitches right where the bust is most visible - ripped out but not enough!! ARGH! At that point I set it aside and, since it was my birthday (this happened on Sunday) took up the red lace scarf and let BD drive me to Hunt Country Yarns for a birthday present followed by a dinner out in F’burg. ooooo some things are so sweet. And as a present we bought my very own, personal, belongs to me, doesn’t need to be returned to the library, copy of Barbara Walker’s 2nd treasury of knitting. Ahhh that feels so good to think about. Plus one of Horst Schultz’s patchwork knitting books. I’d seen 2 of them and read the article in Knitters Mag. and really wanted one of his books. I know it’s just mitered knitting and other knitters have made grand contributions to this form of knitting, but the truth is - the colors in the Schultz books are what really grabbed my mind and wouldn’t let it go. I didn’t buy the book last winter when I visited HCY and it’s just nagged at me ever since. A quick call to Bob Kelly staked my claim on the book - he is probably glad it’s sold at last, since it’s been in the shop almost a year now - and everybody is a winner!

And the final good thing about ListeningToYourMother is that as I lay drifting awake this morning I realized something IMPORTANT I have to do to the SGV before I start picking up the stitches for the button and arm bands. I have to make sure the edges of the steeks are trimmed evenly. Stupid mistake avoided, all because I do what mama says.

(don’t I look smug?)

I promise that one of these days there will be pictures of the beauty - just not today.

posted by Bess | 6:41 AM


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Sunday, September 21, 2003  

Hurricane. Circle of storm and wind and power. How big they are and how still they leave us when they’re done their howling and shaking and splashing.

Usually we get wind and rain and power outages, with perhaps one or two old trees coming down, along with lots of trash that’s been hanging in the treetops since the last big storm. Thursday a.m., when I got up it was windy and humid and gray, but not yet stormy, so I went in to work, intending to close at noon after the winds were expected to pick up. All week people had been driving north, doubly clogging our tiny one road town. Not a local came in that morning, but many evacuees, staying at local motels, came in, hoping for Internet access and looking for some place more pleasant than a hired room.

The heaviest winds were predicted for 11 p.m. and I had a pretty cavalier attitude about the morning and early afternoon weather. I even stopped in town to pick up a pork tenderloin for dinner - full of that somewhat excited anticipation a half day holiday gives you. The drive was wet but not very windy - and I drive a very small car, so winds tend to buffet it on long stretches of highway. I was home just before 1 o’clock and the power was off by 1:30. What a surprise. I had counted on at least 3 or 4 more hours of electricity.

The light in the house was a dim gray too making it difficult to do much unless one was in a south window. I lit the oil lamps but this paraffin oil doesn’t burn very brightly. When we lived in the yurt we used kerosene and though it smelled, and smoked up the chimneys, we could read by the light of one lamp if we sat at a table and by two if we were in bed. Of course - our eyes were 25 years younger then.

My biggest disappointment was that I hadn’t yet sewn the steeks on the SGV so I couldn’t work on it at all! I set up the spinning wheel in the south living room window and spun up the rest of the red merino/cashmere. It’s different spinning with limited visibility. I noticed my fingers had a slightly heightened sensitivity - but the truth is, I’ve been wanting this stuff spun for a long time and I was willing to accept pretty much any quality spinning to get it done. I’ve spun 2 oz of it and never once did I get a feel for it. I wound it with the ball winder and left it to ply when I had better light.

I’ve been dreaming about working with the black gum hand painted super wash I dyed last Sunday and there was just enough daylight to spin up a little bit of that before we really had to bow to the evening.

All the while the wind was blowing and the rain would come in fits and spits. I set a bucket beneath the gutter to gather rainwater and we had about 3 gallons of water in bottles and about another 2 gallons in the taps. Evidently the media had worked people up to an absolute frenzy last weekend because the stores in town were out of water, batteries, lamp oil - all those storm things - by Monday morning. Still, I probably wouldn’t have bought water anyway and we already had lamp oil and batteries. We’d been eating down the freezer all months, preparatory to a good cleaning and my pantry was well stocked with non-perishables. Truth is, all I expected 24 hours of darkness after the storm.

Before it got dusky we walked out into the cornfield, tucking pants legs up above the hems of our slickers. Wind was streaming out of the east and the rain fell pretty much horizontal. As I looked to the north, 2 seagulls struggled against the wind. I watched them wheel and dive and flap and I thought maybe they were my guardian angels looking over the place before they hightailed it back to heaven.

We still had a telephone so I called first my folks to see how they were - out of power, of course, then my assistant at the library who told me they’d lost power around 4. By the light of the oil lamps I cooked roast pork tenderloin with spiced roasted potatoes - a favorite and, with steamed vegetables sprinkled with real parmesan cheese, it’s a 9 pt. WW dinner that leaves me feeling luxurious. We dined at the table - something we rarely do any more because we’ve grown lazy with trays and it means less clean up for the galley slave, who happens to be me. But we needed to consolidate the light and once dinner was over we put everything in the kitchen and left it till daylight.

The wind was still growing stronger. We had a battery operated radio that only picked up WTOP in D.C. !! Sheesh! But at least that’s an all-news station and they mostly only had news about the storm that night. In that dim oil light, though, I grew drowsier and drowsier. I am sure I was asleep by 9. Now, this is my preferred bedtime, but not BD’s. He read into the wee hours and got to enjoy all the sounds of the storm. He built the house and it’s so solid that not even windows rattled, though the winds were steadily in the 45 mph range with at least one micro-burst 100 yards from the house. I woke somewhere around 4 a.m. but since it was so dark and I didn’t want to use up lamp oil, I let myself slide into a meditative state and before long I was asleep again.

The magic of a NewDay woke me about 7 - breeze still whisking briskly, but now from the west. All windows and doors were thrown open, letting in whatever light would come. Out the front door I could see only one treetop nudging out into the circle where we park the cars. Of course, the yard was littered with leaves, but no serious looking devastation seemed to have hit. Nor had the power been restored - well - I didn’t expect it to have been. No point in trying to fix things till the cause of the damage is gone. One perfect cup of coffee later I was really ready to have a look around. BD was still dead to the world so I took the pups and we started off:

First to look at the tide - but the path down to it was blocked. Not just a tree - but a domino collapse of the forest from marsh to the treetop that had blocked the circle - 1,000 yards of downed trees had carved a swath through the forest just to the south of the yard; no more than 100 feet from the house! That was some blow!

I left the path and walked down the bank to see how high the tide was; at low tide it was probably 3 feet above the high tide line. Back at the house I couldn’t stay still. I had to see more so we walked down the lane. It’s 7 10ths of a mile from the house to the mailbox - and right at the corner of the field and the lane there is the grandfather of all trees on our place. It’s a pin oak, though I always call it a willow oak. It is such a majestic glory that when we had phone lines put in, we paid the extra for underground lines, so that it wouldn’t have to be cut. It’s 5 feet in diameter, with a 300 foot limb span. It has an enormous limb as big as a 100 year old oak tree, that leans to the west, arching over the lane. We’re always talking about having that limb trimmed, but we never have yet. This was one tree I was worried about losing, but it’s so enormously big that you can see it from the house as you look out across the field. And it is standing there today too, by the mercy of God.

That was not the case for 3 other spots along the lane though. I strolled
past them, stepping around the limbs, because this was just a scouting
foray. There were few trees in the field - one large one in the west
field, but I did have to bid farewell to a venerable old Cedar who stood
guard by my mailbox. This enormous guardian used to shelter my
precious LD while he waited for the school bus - and he’d sit there
waiting for me to meet him when he got off. We had just reminisced
about it 2 weekends ago - scooping fat handfuls of the blue berries and
crushing them in our hands to savor their Christmassy scent. It’s not
actually on our property. The last 2 10ths. of the lane cross Ellis land.
And it fell into the field. It’s so big, and cedars are so miserably
prickly, cleaning it up is a job for a bulldozer.

From the tar road I could see some downed trees, but the strangest sight of all was something that looked like an enormous Eskimo kayak turned on its side, with the seat facing me. Only - it wasn’t a kayak of course, it was a collapsed grain bin, with the roof blown out and the sides flattened. This is serious damage - a terrible blow for a young farm family.

All the time this glorious wind was buffeting me from the west, sending clouds of pristine whiteness dancing across the sky. I walked with the dogs down towards the grain bin - perhaps 1/2 a mile away - when one of my up the road neighbors drove by. We congratulated each other for the good fortune that no houses had been damaged - every tree that went down from the river to the highway had missed the houses they were near - in one case by millimeters, but a millimeter is as good as a mile, no? He told me also, that trees were blocking the tar road out to the highway and had taken down power lines as well.

I could see trees down in the yards of all the houses along the river, but I didn’t want to take my dogs with me so I turned at the grain bin and strode home. By now, gray clouds were gathering again, and by the time I was home, the entire sky was gray. It never did rain, though, and the afternoon was blue and beautiful and fresh. Perfect storm washed earth.

The rest of the day was spent picking up debris and helping clear the road. BD started with the paths; the one to the pier and the one we call TheHomePath. It’s enormous work and I would have started with the trees down on the lane, but later he told me that he knew he’d clear the road but he wanted to be sure he got at least some of the paths done. It’s a good thing too, since we found out today that there’s as much or more left to do in the east woods.

The final tree was a great spruce pine that was also on Ellis land, but it was blocking our way so we cut it up. Evergreens are lovely, and they smell great, but they are the nastiest, stickiest, dirtiest trees that grow. Every time you touch their branches you get sap on you and it itches till you wash it off. We were both as sticky and grungy as sewer rats before we were done. Since we’d had the truck with us - to get the higher limbs, we drove on up to see how badly the road was blocked. No mail came but all our neighbors were driving out, mostly to see if they could drive out, since everything was shut down - town, countryside, everything from the ocean to the mountains.

There was no way I was going to spend the evening in pine sap splendor so once home I grabbed soap and a washcloth and we made our way down to the pier. It was about a foot underwater and much of it was covered with dead marsh grasses, but bare feet can feel what eyes can’t see and we inched our way out to the canoe, baled her out, and paddled across to the swimming beach.

Now - swimming around here in September is something we do Labor Day weekend just to prove we can do it, and no more. When the nights are in the low 60’s and the days don’t get above 80, that river can get mighty cold. But nobody ever said I was not intrepid. BD joked that all he ever said was that he’d paddle to the swimming beach, not dive in - a challenge to me for sure - and so by the count of 3 I dove in, screaming before I ever even went under. It’s a thrill to make all the noise your chest will allow. And once you’re wet, you know, you grow tingly warm. And soap does get sap off if you scrub hard enough. The water was so fresh with rain that I came home feeling sleek and delicious. Soup and ibuprofen for me, leftover meet and potatoes for BD and I was ready to call it a day. The last thing I remember seeing was 8:30 on the clock - and the next thing I saw was 7 a.m. Sweet Sweet sleep - that knits up the ravel’d sleeve of care.

Today was the beginning of grunge, though. The kitchen counters were unwiped, my fingernails just seemed to attract grime, and water was growing scarce. It was another clear sky day, but much stiller and warmer. The phone was dead but by putting the radio in the window of the upstairs hallway we could pick up the local radio station, mostly telling you where to go for more water and gas. The building supply shops were opening up even though they had no power, so folks could buy repair materials. One grocery store across the river was also open. I was down to 1 gallon of water and BD found another liter bottle in one of the boats. The town of Warsaw was giving out BYOB water - up to 10 gallons per family and we had a tank of gas, but I was hope hope hoping to use that on Sunday for a drive on my birthday. Not exactly worried - but thinking hard about things - that’s the state I was in.

We dressed leisurely, I was knitting some lace out of Jen’s red merino/cashmere, for which I had sacrificed one scant cup of precious water in order to wet set it. After a while we went out to walk the HomePath and made it all the way across the swamp bridge and up to the fork that takes you out to Mossy Point. Here was real forest devastation. Another burst had dominoed 500 feet of enormous ancient oaks and younger, but equally large poplars. A huge hole in the forest has opened up, letting streams of sunshine down into what had been truly a bare floor. This is a sadness - since I often came out to this spot and lay down to look up into the canopy world hundreds of feet up. There are still some behemoths, but come next spring there will be the strangest new growth - fleshy poke weed plants, small scrubby things that produce weedy blossoms. The limbs of the surrounding trees will reach out into the sunshine and one autumn an acorn will drop. Leaves will fall on top of it, snow and rain will compress them, I may even step on it, pressing it deeper into the loam below, a fawn may curl up on the soft pad of leaves heating the earth below, and come the first warm days of March or April, a tiny little rootlette will poke its way out of that brown cracked shell and into the earth. And life will begin again.

It was nigh on to noon by now, and we checked the mailbox - 2 newspapers and 4 credit card offers awaited us. Lots of photos, lots of articles about the Storm of the Generation. Well - the century hasn’t been around long enough for Storm of the Century to sound impressive. We ambled down the lane, enjoying the bigness, marveling at how good life feels. Back home we cracked open the last gallon of water and settled back to read the paper - when - HUMMM.

Yep! Electricity. Oh joy! What luxury. What extravagance. What a dancing moment.

Now - I am ready to be cheerful and useful in adversity. But I will never ever pretend that I don’t love electric power.

Clean clothes, clean dishes, long gulping drinks of fresh water. Really. Life is more than good. It is splendid.

posted by Bess | 9:23 PM


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Thursday, September 18, 2003  

Looks like the brunt of the storm will hit us about 11 p.m. Not an hour I’m likely to be awake. Schools are closed today and tomorrow. I heard the state government offices are closed in Richmond too. It’s not even raining yet, in spite of what weather dot com says, though it is so cloudy the sky has yet to lighten. As long as the weather holds I’ll open up today for a few hours and expect to close at noon. I’m really treating this like a snow day. The forecasters aren’t predicting winds higher than about 45 mph so it’s probable we shan’t have much more than power outages from downed trees.

And no, I didn’t get those last 3 rounds done yesterday. While it was still light outside we picked up loose objects and put them in less vulnerable spaces. I spend a good long time combing Topsy to get as much summer coat off of her as possible. I’ll bring the dogs inside tonight and I’d like to have the least amount of cleaning up to do on Friday. Afterwards, we watched a NOVA video about pearls. BD asked me “would you like pearls for your birthday?” and I had to say yes but when he saw what they were selling for he wryly suggested we wait a bit on the pearls. Gotta love that man!

I did take the SGV outside and photograph it - and now I think on it, I probably ought to go knit those last rounds, sew the steeks and cut so I can photograph that too. Though it’s 400 film, I don’t have flash for my camera. It’s still dry enough outside to take the precious thing outdoors to snap a shot of it.

It’s highly likely the power will be out tomorrow a.m. How long it stays out will depend upon how bad it is elsewhere in the state. So, till I can return, good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:36 AM


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Wednesday, September 17, 2003  

Three more rounds to go! Three more rounds to go! I’ll knit them tonight and sew&cut the steeks - since I expect power to go out sometime Thursday. I can knit the armbands and button band without electricity.

Overslept this morning - or rather - I finally got a good night’s sleep with a little extra thrown in to make up for 2 sleepless nights. Gonna try to get some pictures taken this evening before I take scissors to knitting. The curious deserve to have some visuals.

I got home in the blue evening last night, about 7, and found the corn is mostly harvested - how strange the world looks without the forest of cornstalks flanking my Praying Place. Each year, after harvesting, one is surprised with the enormity of that wide open field. The sky blossoms above like the blue cup of some celestial flower. The very top of your head seems to lift up to fit into that wide blue cap. Arms spread wide - your face tingles with the sudden room it has to exist in the world. And that scent - oh lord - of fresh grain harvested warm from the afternoon sun. It is a sensual extravagance.

Winston is frantically combining away to get in as much of his crops as he can before the storm hits. He told me he was half way through and had about 2 more weeks of combining to do. The buyers discount wet grains and he only has a limited amount of space in the dryers. Our crop, since it’s a share-crop, never goes into the dryers so I’m mighty glad he got our fields done yesterday. New clothes coming my way.

Sad news at WW for me - not really news though. (Gad, Bess, must you negate everything you say? Can’t you just start out with the truth?) I gained .2 this week. Body is not happy - psyche is even more unhappy with the new Flex Plan and some 51 year old endocrinology. Can it be? Is this the dreaded change? No hot flashes, no irritable temperament (I am sure BD will attest to that!) Just a metabolic clinging to fat cells?

I think I’ve decided what I want to do for my birthday - a phone call will decide me. What could be more beautiful than a rain washed drive through the low hills of western piedmont Virginia to the land of Hunt Country Yarns!?! If only he still has a copy of Horst Schultz’s book.

posted by Bess | 8:27 AM


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Tuesday, September 16, 2003  

So here comes Hurricane Isabel. I must secretly admit (why must I?) Okay, I will boldly admit that I adore wild weather. I love it when weather just steps in and says “STOP!” I hope I’ll hear it say that on Thursday. I would love an extra day off to knit. Even if it means I have to clean my own house this week - who cares.

I think weather reporting has become one of the most comic and absurd of the media offerings. Heat indexes, chill factors, severe weather ... Fer cryin’ out loud! If it’s 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity it feels like 98 degrees with 98% humidity. It doesn’t feel like 105.

This doesn’t mean I don’t take wild storms seriously. And I am sorry people along the coast will take some hits. But the rest of the year they live in the paradise lands of oceans and glorious surf and sunrises over the sea. Hurricanes are just the price one pays to enjoy a daily walk along the beach. Just as I savor the privacy of country living I know that it means I wear out cars faster and spend rather lots more on transportation than someone who lives along a bus route in a city. Everything in life comes at a cost.

My part of tidewater VA is pretty far inland, so we face little real danger unless a tornado pops up in our yard and there’s nothing one can do to avoid that. We’re about 100 miles up the Chesapeake bay, still tidal, but way away from the worst of the winds. The last hurricane to hit us was Floyd. It rained 12 inches in something like 12 hours that day. In the middle of the storm everything turned quiet and we went out into the cornfield to experience the temperature, wind and humidity shifts. It was very beautiful. Then the rain returned.

2 or 3 years earlier Fran came through. That was a wild storm. I’d made it into town - one of the last cars to get into town before the road was closed - the VDOT trucks passed me as I drove through the flooded patch by the marina. Within minutes the power had gone out so I walked on down to a friends’ house and watched the wild surf and high winds for a while. Power returned before the roads opened back up and I took back roads home in the middle of the day. At home, though, we’d had a lot of wind damage.

It was the small trees that took the hit. Our house is in a small clearing of young woods along the edge of a big field, and backed by a much older and larger forest. The young trees that fringe the yard are all a jumble of grown-up cutover. At the time they were all about 15 years old. Fran came through and just snapped the tops out of a good dozen or more trees. It killed them, but it was a strange looking thing to see these trunks poking up into the air. Of course, it didn’t kill all the trees - it thinned out the scrub and some 7 years later those that were left have had more sun and room to branch out. It’s quite pretty in a wild sort of way.

We are also 25 feet above the river so there’s no danger of our house flooding. But in ‘85, when Gloria hit, we had a high tide like I had never seen before. I was at home that day with BD at work and LD at school. Gloria was not a hurricane by the time it hit land, but it was a big storm. All day the radio was announcing shelters in Gloucester and Midlesex county. I heard even our county opened up a shelter. Suddenly I realized that this much flooding would probably affect us too. So I walked on down to the pier and found the forest that nudges up to the marsh had flooded up to my underarms. Paddles, life jackets and bailing scoops were floating about among the trees. I could swim in the forest!! The pier was about 4 feet under water. Though it was November and chilly, I plunged in and swam in and out among the trees. I figured I’d never get that chance again. When LD came home from school I hustled him down there and told him to go swimming. The idea of swimming in November in the forest was completely magical for me. And do you know....that little stinker doesn’t even remember doing it!?!

Eh so. It is wait-and-see time. I’ve watched many a hurricane come through. I’ve never lived really close to the landfall sites. We get the big rain storms, power outages, a few downed trees, but not the winds that lift the roof off your house and slam it into your neighbor’s car. And I will be sorry for those who suffer losses but secretly I’ll be glad that the earth is bigger than man and there are things of mystical power that we can never fully understand.

And I will be glad for a day off to knit and spin.

posted by Bess | 5:12 AM


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Monday, September 15, 2003  

Only 1 more 1/2 pattern to go on the SGV!! Didn’t quite meet my goal, but got darn close. I promise I’ll photograph the thing before I cut the steeks - probably Wednesday. It’s sort of thrilling to be knitting the last bits of anything. And the Black Gum Super-wash Merino is drying in the downstairs shower - 4 oz of the slipperiest stuff I’ve ever handled.

I had been warned - and had broken it into 1 oz pieces which I doubled over, tying the ends together with yarn and then tying another piece of yarn around the loop end about 6 inches in. The yarn was blue, easy to see against the white of the top. It not only kept the fibers together, especially when they were wet, but it also made it easy to pick the whole mass up. I had several gum leaves I’d picked up on a lovely walk with the dogs and combined the offered the whole spectrum of black gum colors. These are mainly a vibrant, sun-filled red, a paler, but equally vibrant orange, a lime green that fades into yellow and if there is any mold on the leaves, a dark burgundy. With all the rain this summer, there is plenty of burgundy and less of the vibrant red. The mixing was fairly unscientific, though not quite serendipitous. I am modestly satisfied with my results. It’s just so darn easy to make lime green - which is not the color I was looking for. There just is a difference between black gum green and lime green. But working with the pro-chem dyes, the green can separate a bit, giving it a yellow halo which is exactly the effect you see on the leaves. I feel I captured the red exactly, but I had mixed up only a little both red and burgundy. I had much more of the orange, which I diluted a lot with water. The orange is a little too sugary for me.

“Sugary orange?” you ask. Uh huh. “What color is that?” It’s what Ni Hi orange used to look like. It’s a koolaid color. It is all right and I think it will have a more woodsy look when spun - but one never knows. The proof will be, not in the spinning, but in the knitting. 4 oz will give me enough for a pair of socks.

But Yikes this stuff is slippery. And like silk, it’s fly-away too. I haven’t ever spun with superwash so this will be a completely new experience.

Didn’t get any more spun on the red roving though. 3 more birds nests to go and I’ll ply it up. We had guests all afternoon. Dear friends from Nelson County, 2 boys and dad, and fishing poles, of course. Long time friends who are always a treat to see, though mom didn’t come and I threatened severe discipline if she sends them off alone next time - even if I do remember the savory delight of having the house all to myself for a day.

And so another week begins. The last week before my birthday - it ought to be a happy one. Let us hope it turns out to be so.

posted by Bess | 8:10 AM


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Sunday, September 14, 2003  

Another gray day in store for us. I am of 2 minds about the laundry but there is at least one load of wet clothes waiting to be hung out. Disirregardless of the weather. But if it doesn’t rain I want to dye up some fiber. I plucked some lovely black gum leaves on a walk yesterday, full of the vibrancy of autumn, and I want to see if I can capture their colors in wool. I think I shall work with the superwash merino. Perhaps I can have a pair of black gum socks. mmmmm.

I didn’t knit a stitch on the SGV. HeyBaby began to sing her siren song and I worked some more on the RED merino/cashmere I got from Spirit Trail Fibers. Jen sent me 4 oz and I’ve just about spun up 2 of them. I’ve had such sporadic spinning opportunities that I haven’t a clue as to how evenly this bobbin of singles is going to turn out. It’s fairly fine with rather a good deal of twist, I know. I’m quite anxious to ply it and when I’ve spun up the last 3 birds nests I will - today sometime. And yes I will work on SGV as well. Maybe. Depending upon just who comes to see us today. It’s one of those up-in-the-air sorts of days where folk said they would be coming but would get back with us to confirm but haven’t.

Still - I don’t intend to do anything else, other than to vacuum the living room rugs. Today is to be a fiber day. Ha! beginning with laundry and ending with ... a not quite finished vest.

posted by Bess | 7:22 AM


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Saturday, September 13, 2003  

And the answer is:


I did get some rounds in during the looooong slow portion of the morning, but they’d so dimmed the lights in the auditorium, my eyes began to throb after about 1 pattern. In the hotel room Thursday night I succumbed to watching mindless television. Our TV died in 1975 and we only replaced it in 2001 with a box and a VCR but no antenna or satellite. There is no cable in the country so we are limited to whatever we bring into the house in our hot little hands. Even most of that is difficult for me to sit still and watch. 30 years away from that particular media format has left me with extreme intolerance for inanity. Whole generations of television shows have lived, died and been reincarnated as re-runs outside of my ken. There isn’t even any nostalgia left for me to enjoy. And the rule in our house is “You don’t have to do something that makes you miserable.” so frequently I walk out after the first 15 minutes of a movie.

Nevertheless, something about a hotel room stimulates the long dormant couch-potato gene and it’s not unusual for me to flip on the box the moment I walk into the room. I caught the tail end of My Fair Lady and Meet Joe Black and another version of Sandra Bullock being a clown. She is a very good slapstick comedienne, but I wish she’d take (or be offered) at least some other sort of role - I suspect she has some real acting skill beyond getting teary eyed while she slips on the banana /down the stairs /on the stage.

Hmmm. Puts me in mind of a favorite actor of mine - Ralph Wait - of The Waltons fame. Did you ever see him in Five Easy Pieces? I sat through most of the movie before I realized he was playing the role of Jack Nickolson’s older brother! Unlike the mega-star, whom I’ve never seen in anything other than films portraying himself as a psychotic, Wait completely transformed himself, merely by moving his body differently and making slight alterations in his face - alterations he could maintain throughout the entire movie. Kindly, wise John Walton could become prissy, waddling, impotent piano playing brother. While I understand and admire the craft of making it consistently through an entire film, I am enthralled by the true artists who can become someone new without special effects - and stay that way throughout the same entire flick.

BTW - I did get to the SuperMegaUpscaleHighEnd
on Thursday a.m. I was underwhelmed. It is okay. At least, if I lived way out beyond Gaskins Road, I’d be glad it was there. But it was just okay. The stores seemed a little empty. It was extremely hard to see them because it is an Outdoor Mall. Or maybe the add copy called it a Court-Yard Mall or hmmm a Village Experience. Anyway, what it all means is that you have to leave each store to go to the next one. You walk along a sort of PackMan trail that skirts the outdoor courtyard, zigging and zagging around corners, to get to each shop. It looks like a California Concept to me. I mean - who the heck is going to shop there in the winter? or even on a really rainy day? We can have crap weather for 6 weeks at a time? Sure, our average daily temperature may be 75, but that doesn’t mean doodlysquat. It means it’ll be 98 degrees with 98% humidity 98 days out of every summer. Would you want to keep walking in and out of the A/C just to go from Nordstroms to Hechts? And what about winter slush and rain? The advantage of a good shopping mall is that you don’t have to wear your coat while you’re shopping!

And speaking of Nordstroms - they have a cocktail pianist playing easy music - a little schmoozy for me, but nice - but they also have a cafe - and a loud speaker system where they call out your name when your table opens up - a digital voice - and it is the most crass techno- vulgar thing, to hear your name blared out across the store, like you were a recalcitrant student being summoned to the principal’s office - clashing with what is supposed to be the elegance of live music. Am I just entirely too picky or is it my pure Virgo-essence coming into its own in my birthday month?

Well - I hate failed attempts at elegance. I’d rather have an honest vulgarity. Give me redneck any day over nuveau riche.

The good news? The Perscriptives counter at the in-town mall did not close so I can pick up my favorite goop when I visit my folks.

So what does that have to do with fiber or knitting? It’s raining. Henri is leaving us a damp kiss. I will knit away cum diligentia. I completely forgot about looking at buttons while in the city. Fortunately, I bought out half of a fabric store’s stock of buttons about 20 years ago. They were closing and had dumped it all into 2 bins. I suspect I can find enough purple buttons to finish this up.

Well! I just opened the back door and found a dog! Seems Socks spent the night on the back porch to get out of the rain. Usually she sleeps beneath a building we have across the yard, or in the dog house at the edge of the woods. Ahh the fragrance of rained-upon pup. I will be so glad when it gets cold.

I am rambling - so I’ll sign off now. A splendid Saturday to you all and may all your skeins untangle.

posted by Bess | 8:12 AM


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Thursday, September 11, 2003  

Another perfect morning in the country - blue skies, frosty dewdrops on grass and trees, tail-wagging dogs longing for a brisk walk and, best of all, a leisurely time-table. Yes! Today’s meetings don’t begin till after lunch so if I leave early enough I can get in some quality window shopping.

Didn’t get a stitch knitted yesterday, but I’m taking SGV with me. I believe I dreamed about it last night. Well - I shall post photos of it whe it’s done. Probably ‘round the 22nd. I’ll be sure to take a picture before I cut the steeks too - for steeked projects, especially ones with v-necks, always look so strange.

I’ve been following two threads lately, one on KnitU about stash and guilt, and Catherine’s disgust with insincerity cloaked as sweetness. Both issues prompt much thought - albeit disorganized thought, but both worth commenting on. About stash - I am all for it - up to the point where it feels like I am not hoarding, but mindlessly buying out of habit. I have a ton of yarn and wool fibers and some folk would laugh in disbelief and ask “You call that stash?” while others would gasp in disbelief and ask “When do you think you’ll ever use that all up?”. To both I can only answer with a shrug. I like enough stash. I don’t like doing something mindlessly. I like to feel that there is room for a little more magic. I hate being cash strapped (which I’ve been for months now) and yet, if I have to be, I’m mighty glad there’s extra in the bins. Extra of everything.

As for what Catherine calls girlywomen - well - I don’t like anybody who’s mean, especially if that person is mean to me. But I don’t hate sneaky, insincere, manipulative women more than bullying or stonewalling stupid men. Rats are rats, no matter how they demonstrate their rattiness. I’m more generally dismayed by a pervasive greedy selfishness I see in my own generation - the baby boomers. I don’t say other generations don’t have their fill of greedy selfish folk - but I do think there was a mountain of “gimmee” behavior portrayed in the glory days of the ‘60s and that same behavior, cleaned up and put into suits and Volvos, seems still there. I was always disgusted at how the “free living” hippies would shun you as wickedly as any sorority crowd of the ‘50s did - just that the uniform was cheaper to buy. “Don’t smoke pot? Don’t hate your parents? YOU aren’t one of us.”

Not that I longed to be one of “them”, but I didn’t see any more honesty in my generation than I saw in my parents' or in any subsequent generation. What I saw was the assumption, reinforced by a media that never stopped talking about them, that we boomers were IMPORTANT merely because we existed. Along with that I saw a smuggness, bordering on sneering, that was frequently demonstrated by a grab-all-you-can-get and whine-if-you-don’t-get-it attitude.

Mostly I take people as I find them, one at a time. I find plenty of nice boomer folk, but alas, any crowd of people creates a Crowd-With-An-Attitude and I find my own age-group's attitude particularly difficult to stomach. Isaac Asimov writes about the psychology of the group in many of his Foundation novels and I find it a very revealing concept. He says nobody can predict what any individual will do, but if you mass enough of them together, you can pretty much predict what the crowd will do. It’s always seemed to me that the boomers have consumed too much, blamed everyone else, and whined when they didn't get their way. It seemed that way to me when I was 17 and it seems that way still. Worst of all, they do it all with sanctimonious faces filled with confidence that they are “doing it all for your own good.”


Another reason I live in the sticks. Sticks don’t have opinions or generations nor do they practice manipulative behavior.

Be away tomorrow and back on Saturday when I will answer the big question:

Did she finish the SGV?

posted by Bess | 8:26 AM


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Wednesday, September 10, 2003  

Last night at Tuesday Night Knitters I counted up how many patterns I have left to knit on the SGV and there are only 2 left!! This is a 16 row pattern so - 32 rows. Whoopee. I’ll cut the steeks on Saturday and start knitting the armhole treatment and button band. OOOOO this is exciting. I’ll do a quick perusal of my buttons and if I don’t have what I want, I’ll check out the buttons at the shops in Richmond on Friday.

I am sooo glad this thing is nearing the end. Not because I haven’t enjoyed knitting on it - just have a bunch of other stuff I want to do over the next few weeks. Most especially I have to prepare for a workshop I’m teaching in November. I need to make props. Yikes. Guess I’ll have to stop at the art supply store tomorrow.

I had to make a hotel reservation yesterday and I asked for government rates. The fellow asked me if I was federal or state government and when I told him I was local, he asked if I was from a surrounding county. When I told him, “No, sugar, if I were, I wouldn’t need a hotel room” he got pretty flustered. I was then informed that I’d need to show the front desk folk a valid Gov. ID, at which I laughed, since our small county doesn’t issue employee ID. cards. I mean, fer cryin’ out loud!!! We’re all cousins! I asked the clerk if a pay stub would be adequate and he sort of stumbled and then asked me what government I worked for. The upshot was, I got my county administrator to write a letter saying that I do, indeed, work for the County and I’ll take my pay stub just in case.

Contrast this with KnitDad’s congestion - well - I just love living in the country. LD said the fellows on the submarine used to tease him about growing up on a dirt floor and playing with sticks. His eyes twinkled when he related this and then he added “They thought they were exaggerating, but it was pretty much true so they could never get a rise out of me.” I once overheard him telling a fellow 10-year old “Oh yes, I was practically raised by dogs.” which was also pretty much true. So, there you have it. We made the choices that made us happy. Seems like we made him happy too.

For the diet curious - I only lost .4 lbs last week. This is not easy to accept when I knew I’d not only been careful about the in-take, but also had ramped up the workouts. But the last time I did this I had a similar loss - followed the next week by a rather large drop. Also, I’m getting closer to my goal, which is supposed to mean slower progress. Rats. Of course I must remember that there is much other evidence of my overall progress. The scales are merely a photograph of a moment in time. Hmmmm. And a glance at the calendar shows me that I can still reach that little internal goal I’d set for myself - hmmm. Eh. well. hope seeps eternal, right. oh yeah. springs. yeah. springs. that’s bound to burn up more calories than seeping. yeah.....

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM


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Tuesday, September 09, 2003  

Heh. Well. I was successful in tempting LD to stay one more day. Or rather, packing took enough time Sunday that he decided to spend one more night. Sweet, sweet moments in the company of one of my favorite people. In the late afternoon we took a hike through the woods, east and west, and along the mosquito infested drainage ditches, across the stubble strewn bean field and back home again. A final cold plunge in the river kissed summer good-bye. It’s amazing how quickly the water temperature drops after 2 nights of 60 degree weather. It was a breathtakingly beautiful late afternoon. We were three heads, bobbing within a ring of forest, fringed with saltbush, ironweed and the wild autumn clematis, that hugged blue water reflecting the dome of the heavens. The dogs love it when we go swimming and frolicked among the aquatic grasses that dip their toes in the shallow water. A fitting good-bye to summer.

At yesterday’s fiber guild meeting the lesson was how to knit 2 socks on 2 circulars. It’s a cool technique and it certainly is efficient to knit more than one object at a time on your needles. I’ve done it, but I hate it. I forget if the yarn should be draped over the needle when finishing the first sock, or under, and so it gets trapped between the needles and when I come to it again on the other side I have to reach through the needles and pull out the yarn. The time and irritation factor of this negates any efficiency I might have effected by having 2 socks when I finish knitting. I had a pair hanging on my good Addi turbo #3 needles for months before I finally said “bah! enough!” and put one of the socks on threads so I could knit one sock at a time. Of course, I still haven’t knit them. I think my interest in the stupid things has been tainted.

Anyway - about the class - it was a reminder that teaching something you understand well is not the same thing as doing it. (remember this in Nov., Bess - practice your lecture before you give it.) I remember the first few times I tried to teach the EZ seamless circular yoke sweater. I completely understood how it is done. I completely utterly knew what I wanted to convey - and the blank stares and miserable suffering on the faces of my students assured me that I had failed.

Well. What an egotist I am. Let me try again.

About the class - the teacher had not worked out a step by step verbal presentation, with physical examples, for casting on. This is a tricky bit anyway, but it’s more tricky when the students don’t even know the technique of knitting with 2 circular needles. With 20+ people in the audience she couldn’t give individual instructions and the longer folk sat in frustrated silence, the more flustered she became. It’s very, very difficult to teach to a crowd. Well, heck, it’s difficult to teach period. When we learn something via the Jack Horner method - sitting in a corner, finally pulling out a plum - it is doubly difficult to teach.

In another lifetime I was a musician. Violin came so naturally to me that I thought everybody could make music. I didn’t really learn to read music till I got a job in a symphony and had to play it the first time, correctly - or get fired! Always before I just listened to the music and then played it back. I was a good violinist - but I was a HORRIBLE teacher. I had no idea how I did what I did and I couldn’t tell anybody else how to do it either.

(Gad, it always comes back to me. Well, that’s because I don’t want to sound nasty or critical about yesterday’s very pleasant teacher. It’s easier to criticize myself. She tried, but she failed and that’s too bad. Probably turned off more folk than she turned on.)

It was fun to be among knitters though and I got in a few more rounds on the SGV. Also promised to be the roving assistant for my library friend when she teaches the steek class in the spring. Both of us are determined to do the crocheted steek before then so it can be taught, as well as a sewn steek.

And now I am determined to finish the body of the SGV by the end of the weekend. I want to enter this in the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival first weekend in October and I know it has to be in the show organizer's hands by 9/27!! The knitting is not show quality but the vest is pretty and I think it will excite new knitters with its vivid color contrasts. But it must be finished first. I have a series of meetings the end of this week and I intend to knit through them. This will tell you what I think of the meeting topics, since I am usually a participatory type of audience member and only knit in meetings when I think I have an obligation to be present.

Tonight is WW followed by the Tuesday Night Knitters group. It will likely be a small group because lots of folk are dealing with back-to-school start-up issues. But I am going to issue reminder invitations for the October meeting so I can practice my color workshop lecture on them.

Ahh. Is that a pair of knitting needles calling me? Best be off.

posted by Bess | 5:49 AM


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Sunday, September 07, 2003  

Glad to see Blogger is back up and running. Of course, there’s not much knitting or spinning to report - I’m at the dull “Finished another pattern” stage of the SGV. It is zipping along faster now that I’ve taken off about 20 stitches across the front but there are 18 more to decrease and 6 more patterns to knit. Perhaps I shall get some done today.

Yesterday was laundry day - but laundry with a capital L. I don’t have a dryer - beyond a big blue sky and a golden sun. Unfortunately, we’ve had gray clouds with rain for the past 3 weeks. Our own collection of GreatUnwashed was augmented by LD’s supply. I have a vast capacity to ignore that which I can not change - been praying about that many a year - and besides, we can always just shut the door to the laundry room. But clear crisp skies and perfect temperatures and an enormous clothes line erased all evidence of my sloppy housekeeping yesterday. Not just washed, but folded and put away.

Thank you, thank you. I will now take a much deserved bow.

For over a year, LD has been planning a meandering trip out west, to visit the prairie - to go hunting - to feel the bigness that is the other side of the continental divide. Today he leaves. (Unless I can tempt him with a trip around Lake Anna) We had gotten used to him visiting now and then, and heading back to the Navy. Each day was a treat and the wave good-bye was soft on the tear ducts. For some reason, this departure feels much more like the aching separations of those early college years. Who would believe empty nest could strike twice with the same child. It’s not really the same, though, it’s just that we are now savoring his presence with an eye to permanency.

My copy of SpinOff came on Friday and for some reason I haven’t been settled enough to sit down with it. I’ve skimmed featherlightly but not really read anything. But ooo it’s a gorgeous issue. I would like to sit and spin - and thought I would get some in this weekend but I realize that I have a lot of obligatory stuff on my fiber plate right now - stuff that just sneaked up onto the plate when I wasn’t looking. Suddenly my hobby is a job!!! Yikes! What have I done?

It’s not that I don’t want to do each project I have lined up. It’s that I have put deadlines on them that involve other people - like a gift list, only it’s not gifts!! It’s just stuff that has to be done. What was I thinking (or not thinking) of?

I have been spinning - and shopping - for a year now, and I haven’t spun enough of anything yet to make a sweater. I have about 1/3 of a sweater in 2 yarns and enough fiber for half a dozen more. What is wrong with this picture?

Okay - I won’t finish any more paragraphs with rhetorical questions. I probably won’t finish all my projects either, but here’s hoping I’ll get SGV done in time to enter it in the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival - where I’m registered to take a class from Anne Modesitt on finishing. I mostly knit ITR (in the round) but I would knit flat pieces if there was a good reason to and I’d like to feel more confident that I could do a good job should I choose to.

The coming week offers so many treats. First, the weather is expected to be superb - low 80’s or high 70’s and no rain. The nearest Fiber Guild starts it’s 03-04 season and though it’s a pull to get there, I think I shall attend. It means playing hooky from work on Monday morning but I have the leave time so I’m going to “slip down to Wycomico Church” which is a much lovelier drive than the one when you “slip over to Richmond”. Then there is a meeting of all the library directors in the city on Thursday and Friday. This doesn’t appeal nearly as much since they suddenly changed the line-up of programs and dropped the only one I really wanted to attend. But it does offer me the opportunity to spend the night in the city and check out the new MegaUpscaleHighPricedTrendyShoppingCenterOutdoorMall that just opened.

Sigh. I adore shopping, especially clothes shopping. I wish, sometimes, I had the money to buy indiscriminately, though in all honesty, I am far more comfortable on a budget. I am secretly glad I have to make a BigDeal out of shopping. I can’t fit it into my daily, or even weekly, routine. But I do like it to be convenient. The trip to my folks house takes me past two nice, unostentatious, moderately-priced, solid, plain-wool-coat types of shopping malls. I am utterly mystified when I hear that people go to Northern Virginia to shop and the thought of going to New York to buy clothes is a concept that can’t fit into my sleepy southern brain. I mean - where would anybody wear those 5 inch high, pointy toed shoes?!? I’ve seen them at Pentagon Mall in NVA and they look like clown shoes or, perhaps, caricature shoes. Well, come to think of it, they look like slut shoes. They’re pointier than something even Barbie would wear.

So now two enormous shopping centers, touting the “High End Shops you find in Tysons Corner”, luring customers further and further out into the ‘burbs, open this month. The city newspaper, which is the one we get out here in the country, has spun into a frenzy of reporting over the summer. There was an aerial photo of the first place that looked like the burn circle of a flying saucer. 5,500 parking spaces. I’m not exactly sure I want to be anywhere there are 5,500 people.

But then, I think, “Oh, yes. I do”. At least, I want to go look. And the 2 days of meetings in Richmond offer me some free time in the evening, so - to market I shall go. I’m broke right now. The cash flow situation that nipped me in June has not let go yet. And I’m not buying clothes till mid-October when I’m a whole lot closer to reaching my WW goal and am moving into maintenance mode. But it will be fun to look. Fun to try on stuff. Fun to see what it’s like shopping in an up-scale market.

More importantly, though, the gals at the Prescriptives counter said they had to move out to the new west end mall. Cripes. It’s bad enough I have to go all the way to Richmond to buy make-up, now I have to drive half way to Charlottesville. So, it isn’t a question of “do I want to go”. I have to. (“What the he...?” you are asking. “You drive 70 miles to buy make-up? Are you crazy? It’s not even a yarn shop!)

Shrug. What can I say? Each of us has her price.

Best of all, though, this week each day brings me closer to my birthday. I adore birthdays. I love yours. I love my son's, my husband's, my girlfriends'. But most of all, I love mine. I feel sorry for folk who didn’t get to be born in September - that NewBeginning month for kids. The fresh, bountiful, rich, full-of-promise month that begins the holiday season. From Labor Day through the New Year, there are Monday Holidays, secular holidays, religious holidays, and my birthday. It’s not a “special” birthday. I’ll be 51. It’s just a special day. We may not do anything other than eat out. (I believe it’s in the Constitution - one does not cook on one’s birthday - Article 27, paragraph 5.)

Ahh. I see blogger is open and LD is awake. Off to post this tidbit. Happy Sunday to you all!

posted by Bess | 8:35 AM


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Friday, September 05, 2003  

My Archives are a wreck and I'm too lazy to fix them - assuming I am smart enough to do so. But LD is home and I wanted him to see this - so forgive the re-run. I give you:

The Tale of Topsy

Topsy was born on the farm. Her mother, in true Labrador fashion, while being a wonderful family dog, was most strongly attached to BigDarling. But when in heat or pregnant, she would cling to me. I used to say “Tru has cramps and she knows I understand” when she would leave his petting hand to snuggle up close to me. The night the pups were born I woke suddenly, sat straight up, and exclaimed that Tru was having her pups. Ignoring spousal scoffing I said “either that or she’s in trouble. I know she’s going to try to have those pups under the yurt and I saw a black snake down there this morning.” so at some time after midnight I was prowling around outside with the flashlight.

Tru was 7 years old and we’d debated a long time about breeding her. This pregnancy she’d seemed more sedate, less lively. Several pups had already been born by the time I flashed the light on a concentrating mother. She looked over her shoulder at me and, through ancient, silent female communication, she told me “Don’t you ever do this to me again.” and I solemnly promised this was her last litter.

They were wonderful little critters, though, with one exception. A small yellow female just seemed off. She didn’t move with the same surety. She wandered a quarter of a mile out into the field at 5 weeks and only BigDarling’s absolute dedication tracked her down. She acted as if she were blind. HardHeartHere said she ought to be put down because she would taint the rest of the litter when prospective buyers came to look, but both BigDarling and LittleDarling booed me back into silence. I even sought corroboration from the vet when I took them in for their first shots. Of course, these dedicated animal lovers, true physicians, who never give up hope where there is life, demurred, but I could see them tsk and shake heads.

So the little pup lived, but she did not sell. I forget whether black males were the dog of choice that spring or yellow females, but by the time we got a call from someone seeking a yellow female she was the last one left. We had promised LittleDarling he could have his pick of this litter as his own dog. He and I were upstairs and when we heard BD explaining how this pup was probably not going to make a good hunter LD burst into tears. “But she is the only dog I’ve ever loved with all my heart!” he wailed and I said “then better hurry downstairs and tell Daddy she’s not for sale”. And that was that.

She continued to seem different. The most striking thing about her was how she would spin around in a tight circle, whence the name TopsyTurvy, quickly shortened to Topsy. But she was a beautiful golden yellow color with two faint darker stripes that ran the length of her back. She had meaty thighs and a powerful swift run. She also wandered. She was a springtime dog so she began swimming early. Our favorite swimming hole is across the bay, a little sandy bottom spot on the Island that we get to by canoe. Topsy always started out in the boat, but before we’d gotten to shallow water she’d have leapt out and begun swimming to shore. She was an inveterate hunter as well, though BD was hunting less and LD had not yet taken up the sport. Squirrels were a constant temptation and groundhogs the enemy. Over on the Island were all the furry rodents a natural hunter could wish for and time after time she’d be long gone and out of earshot when we were ready to go home. We’d call and call, climb the bank and call some more, and finally, as the gray cloak of summer evening slid across the shoulders of the eastern horizon, we’d have to go home. A day or two, or sometimes even three, later, she’d show up, smiling, sleek, glad to see us.

Oh but the heartaches she brought us when she’d do her disappearing act. It was a hard lesson for a little boy. Many a day we’d drive the 12 miles ‘round to the Island and try to find her. I remember once seeing a skunk, at the far edge of a field, with a white stripe so wide it almost looked like a yellow Labrador. I know we came home sans Topsy that day - and there were a goodly number of other days we made the trek in vain. Topsy was just a scatterbrained wanderer.

Out of that littler we also kept a black male, although I am firmly of the belief that nobody needs 3 dogs. This big black fellow chose me as his own, though, and I was not about to let him go. This is a grave danger of having a litter of pups - that you won’t be able to sell them all - that you won't let yourself sell them all. Pokey shared Topsy’s fierce hatred of groundhogs and the two of them could have been rented out to farmers had we wanted to earn a little extra cash. Topsy would start out sniffing and digging and when she’d made some progress her brother would shove her aside and finish off the hole. If they were near the base of a tree, seeking squirrels, Topsy would even bite and tug at the tree roots and in a frenzy of passion one day she broke off one of her teeth.

And so, the little dog grew “like Topsy” and became an important part of the happiness of our lives. Who can know the joy a boy has with his dog.

The Sunday before Christmas in ‘93 LD and I were walking back with the morning paper. We took the long path through the woods because it was just one of those wonderful days for walking and ended up on the bank overlooking the wild winter marsh. Topsy came running up to us and urged Pokey to join her in some doggish pursuit. They both dashed back into the woods while the humans walked on home. I remember at the time thinking how odd she was acting and that she must have found some truly fascinating scent to get her to behave that way. I thought about it later that night when guests arrived and there was no Topsy in the yard to greet them.

Then began the strangest and saddest time for us all. Topsy had gone. Vanished from her own home. Five years old, she was way too old to have gotten lost. We called. We posted signs. We even checked with families who lived across the river - a good mile and half across marsh and water. And we wept.

It was in early March when Dr. Wilkins, from the vet’s office, called and asked me if our dog was still missing. An affirmative was countered with “can you describe any identifying features?” and of course I told him about the broken front tooth, the wide stripe of darker fur down her back and her characteristic spinning. “Well, I think I just treated your dog” was his reply.

Oh. First came the wash of joy. The amazed, happy grin. Topsy had been found. She was across the river, 40 miles from home, but just fine. She had been given to a retired couple by the young man who’d found her wandering along the riverbank. No. She didn’t have a collar. We’ve only ever collared true wandering dogs - and we’ve only had one of those. After all, she’d only ever gone to the island and back. Who would have thought she’d not only swim the river, but then get adopted and transported another 10 miles in shore? And who would have thought this couple would have bypassed all the vets on the Northern Neck, to bring Topsy to the Tappahannock Veterinary Clinic for checkup and shots?

But my second thought was “Do I want a dog who’s going to wander that far? We’d only just begun to stop grieving over her loss. Pokey had at last stopped moping around. LD could smile once again. What was the purpose of bringing back a dog who would run that far away from her own front yard?

My final thought was that it was not my decision anyway. The dog belonged to LD and it was up to him to decide what to do. And so I did nothing till he got out of school. How well I remember the same emotions flashing across his face when I asked him if he wanted Topsy back - Sheer delight, a thoughtful consideration of going after her, and then the resolute decision to go and see. We knew it was Topsy. If she remembered us when we got there, we would take her home. If she didn’t we would leave her with her new owners.

I called and talked to a gentle voiced man who said sadly, after I had described some of Topsy’s more vivid personality traits , “I believe we have your dog, ma’am”. He gave us directions and we drove to a pleasant house set in a pretty yard. Two teary eyed people welcomed us in and before we had spoken more than a few words, we could hear Topsy barking excitedly from down in the basement. One of Topsy’s most surprising behaviors was a deep distrust of men who were not her men. She seemed to like all women, and if you belonged to her she was as cuddlesome and friendly as you could wish, but heaven help the man who was not one of the accepted. The man told me that he had to keep her locked away when his brother visited, for she growled so fiercely at him. But the rest of the time she would sit by his side, chin on his thigh, and keep him company.

Topsy’s joy at being reunited with LD was a sight to behold. It was the most telling evidence that she truly belonged with us - something this tenderhearted couple couldn’t deny. I did reimburse them for their recent vet bill but something the Mrs. said made me actually glad we were taking our wanderer home. She began to tell me about how much they loved animals and how they fed wild ones in their back yard. A chill ran through me - for, though I love the wild animals that fill the woods and fields of my farm, I do not feed them. It is dangerous for them and for us. They need to have the skills to feed themselves and there are diseases that I would rather they not share with us - or for that matter, we share with them. But worst of all, was that Topsy was a natural hunter- swift, and deadly. The thought of these gentle people putting feed out for critters and then watching in horror as their “pet” went in for the kill right before their eyes made me shiver. I knew for sure that Topsy was the wrong dog for them.

And so, the prodigal daughter came home. And thank goodness, she’s never wandered again. We have speculated long and hard about what could have sent her off on such a journey. That year there were a lot of beaver moving into the area and on a walk on the Island we noticed that she swam out after them - way out in the river. Frantic calls, shouts, whoops and whistles eventually turned her in our direction, but out there in the water, she really did seem confused and lost. Perhaps she had followed a beaver across the river. Perhaps she just got turned around or caught in the current and swept downstream a ways, that fateful December day. We will never know for sure, but for sure we are glad we’ve had these additional 10 years.

She is very old now. Her mother didn’t quite make it to 15 and, at that, she was considered the oldest pure bred lab in the county. I wonder where Topsy ranks in the longevity list. But mostly we just enjoy watching an old dog have a truly blissful old age. She still likes to prance when we feed her at night. She’ll always walk the half-mile out to the mailbox with us and if she’s rested, she’ll go all the way to Rose Hill with BD, which is a good 4 mile trek. She groans when she lies down, and you can see her once meaty thighs are thin and a little unsteady. She’s grown to look more like her mother as she’s aged, no bad thing, since Tru was the most beautiful yellow Lab I’ve ever seen. She’s outlived them all - mother, father and siblings. She’s patient with the other dogs, but careful, because they’ll knock her down if they bump into her. Sleep is her favorite activity, but she loves to be loved and will nudge you for more strokes if you don’t move away. Food is a joy, though she only has her back teeth - all the front ones have worn down to nubs. And like Br'er Rabbit, she'll lay low. If you aren’t careful she’ll hide in the den and spend the night inside. And we let her sometimes, because she is Old Topsy, the yellow Lab.

posted by Bess | 9:58 AM


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Thursday, September 04, 2003  

LD is at home for a few days before departing on a 2 month hunting trip in the northern prairies. We are spending pretty much every spare moment with him, talking, listening, and between the two guys - doing engine-y stuff; cars and boats. The dogs are beside themselves with joy. When I let them in in the morning, the scamper upstairs and into his room as if BD and I didn't exist. If he leaves his car door open, Priss hops in, ready for a ride. Both our old labs used to do the same when he was loading up the car to go back to college. You never saw such pitiful pleading as those dogs could put on their faces. "Taaaaaaake me with you".

Obviously, no knitting, spinning, dyeing or other fiberly news today. It's still dank and humid and a grey film of something is on any wooden surface you don't polish daily. It is okay, though - it's September - it'll dry out soon. The weekend forecast is for perfect weather. And Sheyrl comes today so that means I have the weekend off. Nice.

And yes. I do pick up before she comes. Her job is to clean the house, not decide which old newspapers we want to keep or what to do with all that knitting stuff on the dining room table. There is nothing to compare to coming home to a clean kitchen.

posted by Bess | 7:00 AM


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Wednesday, September 03, 2003  


You’ve been warned.

Last May when I joined Weight Watchers, I was not only ambivalent about what I wanted, but both nervous and shy about such a public exposure of what I considered a flaw in my selfness. Forgive the word coining, but it was not just a weakness in my “will”, “determination” and “integrity” I feared exposing, but also a flawed DNA, as if I were some sort of medieval cripple who had to wear identifying clothing. That frantic sound is my voice when I am having a bad day. It doesn’t happen all that often. In truth, even at my heaviest, I could forget about the body thing most of the time. I also own a magic mirror that instantly takes off 20 lbs when you look into it. When asked “Who’s the fairest of them all?” it always answers “You dahlink and haven’t you dropped a few?”. What a way to start the day. And if you feel great, who cares what you look like?

But then some dear loving friend, wanting to compliment me on the photo the newspaper ran on the New Library would say “You looked so matronly.” Talk about being completely crushed. Worse yet, all the love in his voice and face told me he thought he was praising me to the skies. I reminded him of his mother!!! And he’s 20 years older than I!!! SMACK Reality hits you in the face.

Anyway, to WW I trotted, clutching beloved H’s hand tightly. I am still wondering what in the world took me so darn long. The nutritional advice is sound, and in fact, nothing I didn’t already know. Nobody who has struggled with weight most of her life is ignorant about nutrition. She may be unmotivated, she may be avoiding reality, but she's not ignorant. Like all those “get your life organized, take control of your time and money” books, there’s little new in the literature. Just that - you slip a little here, forget a little there, and the next thing you know, you’re Matronly looking. The structural part of it - the procedures -- meetings, weekly weigh-ins, little notebooks for writing down what you eat, little slide rule thingys to help you figure out how much of a good thing you can eat and still lose weight, the little booklets with behavioral modification tips - all that stuff was extremely comforting and cocooning for me. I felt wrapped in this sort of motherly embrace. “Don’t worry, sugar, we’ll take care of it all for you”. The only thing missing was a personal chef in the kitchen arranging everything in a nouvelle quisine display.

Best of all, the lbs are coming off at a steady pace. Fast enough to drop out of one size in about 5 weeks and to reach a fairly substantial goal before all the new fall clothes are sold out. But slow enough to feel like it’s really happening - and to avoid creepy stuff like sucking calcium out of my teeth! Also slow enough to actually read all the materials, begin using all the little tips and techniques, even to proselytize to innocent friends and family members!

So - when something this nice is happening to you, what do you expect the fickle finger of fate to do?

Yep. WW brought out their “new” Flex Points last week. RatsRatsRatsRatsRats. You know I had to be stomping around saying that. Why change a good thing - fix something that isn’t broken - that’s actually performing in a stellar fashion? What in the ????? Fer Cryin’ Out Loud!

I follow the on-line discussion boards so I had a good idea what the changes were going to be. I knew the method of writing down what you eat was going to be altered - though I didn’t know it was going to become a debit sort of tracking system. I was NOT a happy camper - in spite of the little streak that is woven into the fabric of my psyche that likes random change, enjoys adapting to outside influences, takes pride in my flexibility. And I did like the idea of getting more little booklets to read, since I had reached the end of the old ones. I can’t get enough talisman-like stuff about the food/diet/nutrition/body issue. I’m a little obsessed with the process and success of weight loss right now.

So I grumbled, balked, and then thought about it a little and decided I ought to give the new program a try. I set my beloved journal aside and took up the new Points Tracker. To be completely honest, that was the only real change in what I did, other than to beef up my workouts a bit.

I really feared the additional amount of food allowed someone my weight. I wasn’t sure I’d like subtracting points throughout the day. I rather enjoyed constructing a day of healthy eating on each page of a journal. I am one of those wordy talkers who adore journaling. I’ve never missed a day in 14 weeks. The debit way of looking at things was depressing for me. Made me feel like I do towards the end of the pay period - "ACK running out!!" There was no escaping your excesses, either. With the old journal, if there was a bad day, why - I just turned the page on it and began anew.

Funny thing - I never had any doubts about the quality of the nutritional advice. I had utter faith in WW’s basic information. I knew that all the changes were there to help people get a handle on things or to give a boost to folk who had been doing the program a long time and had either plateaued out or just had so far to go they needed a shake-up.

I went a couple of days without needing the flex points. Then I went out to lunch with my parents, eating what looked like a low point meal, but what turned out to be 16 points worth of food. None of it was unhealthy. None of it was thoughtless or extravigant, but it was all restaurant sized. The half a turkey sandwich was as big as any whole turkey sandwich I could have made with either store bought or home-made bread in my own kitchen. That extra little baguette of bread was an extra 2 points. The cup and a half of bean soup was 4 points. The iced coffee with skim milk was 2 more points. Add it all to my 5 point breakfast and I was 1 point away from the target. And I was hungry at dinner time!

This is not rocket science stuff. The portions are just too darn big. I should have had a salad.

So - after a week I find:

I like the points target a little better than a points range. I guess I’ve been pretty focused as a WW gal and aiming for something specific is actually soothing for me.

I like the flex points, though I was still aghast about the number. In fact, I crossed out 14 points last Wed. morn without eating them. I worked with 21 points which made my total average daily points max out at 25. I think making all your “extra” points available whenever you need them is a better way than having to save them up just in case.

I hate the weekly journal format. Skimpy lines, no way of telling one day at a glance, the glue in the center was crooked so I lost a couple of lines. It was almost impossible for me to keep track of fruits & vegetables. I had to read over things just to be sure I got them all in. I couldn’t flip back to a day I remembered as having a good recipe. I kept putting the debit stuff in the credit column. And the pages grew hideously crumpled in my purse. (of course the old journal did too - but I bought their little notebook version) gripe gripe gripe

So I bought the notebook format of the tracker and it has more lines, no sloppy glue (it’s spiral bound), is the same size as my old journal, and has a better system for monitoring fruits and veggies. I still think building up a healthy day is more positive way for me to record things. But hey - who says I can’t do that using the tracker. Basically I need a date, a line to identify my food, and a place to put its points. I can still add instead of subtract using the tracker.

And what was the real proof? Did I lose anything? Yes. 1.8 lbs. But I had lost 1.8 lbs last week on the old program, so that was pretty much a wash. But it also proves that the basic WW program is still there, no matter how it’s tallied up and presented. and it is also proof that I am beginning to incorporate it into my daily life. It’s loosing more of the “diet” stigma and becoming the lifestyle I dream of.

I’ve hit the -25 lb. point and last weekend I tucked my blouse into my waistband for the first time since 1992. This is about as good as it gets.

posted by Bess | 5:57 AM


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Tuesday, September 02, 2003  

So what did we do yesterday? We went on a ramble.

A favorite pastime of ours is to take the DeLorme’s atlas (There’s one for your state too), pick a county, get there fairly directly, and then take every back road we can. Yesterday’s destination was Dinwiddie County, south of Petersburg, home of King’s Barbecue, alas, sadly for us, always closed on Mondays.

Dinwiddie is just on the edge of the Richmond media snow-school-closing circle and I always used to envy them, since rural schools close more than urban schools. I always wondered how someplace south of us could have more snow than we did. I had to move to the country to realize just how long it takes snow to melt on roads that lie to the north of a pine forest. “Even when the temperatures hit 60 during the day, come nightfall or cool early morning, you can hit black ice and run off the road.” saith the gal who did so back in ‘94.

This is the land of enormous pine tree deserts, and not much else. It used to grow more tobacco and peanuts, and it still does, but tree farms are the main crop these days. There’s a low flat southern feel to the land south of Richmond. It feels a lot more like North Carolina than the Virginia I am used to. I’m always surprised to realize that the NC border is only 50 miles away. I guess that’s because every teenager in Richmond makes his first long drive to Virginia Beach, which seems south, but is really south east and it’s 100 miles away. So, Carolina must be 100 miles too. It’s a perception thing.

Part of the reason we headed south was a long tease from BD who wanted to prove to me that there really is a Prince George county in VA. When we crossed the county line I got out of the car and salaamed.

What is it about September that makes everything feel different? It was still hot - though the day started out cool and gray, by the time we hit Hanover County the sun was peeking out and I am sure the temperature got up close to 90 by mid-afternoon. But the light is different. The smells. The cricket serenades along country roads. Of course the flowers are very Septemberish - Tickseed, Partridge Pea, Goldenrod, Meadow Beauty, Knotweed, Ironweed, and the deep vivid Morning Glories.

Perhaps it is the slant of the sun, sending its rays into the trees at acute angles. Perhaps it is just the deep inner memory of school starting - and what could be a greater reminder of that, than the yards dotted with yellow school busses. Whatever the reason - or combination of reasons - yesterday felt like an autumn ramble. It won’t be long till I am glad for a blanket on the bed and a sweater on my back.

I got one pattern done on the SGV, but mostly I wanted to look, since we were in new territory. Also, I did some of the driving. I can drive. I do drive. But I don’t enjoy driving. Usually I navigate, but this day BD wanted to try some complicated back routes, both going and coming, and since the latter freed us from having to go through any cities, I willingly took the wheel. Besides, there is something deliciously luxurious about pointing your car down a thin blue ribbon of road that is nosing its way into a lush green tunnel - maybe even heading down to some little stream spanned by a rumbling wooden bridge.

We were home by 7:30 to an easy dinner of steamed shrimp and an episode of Pride and Prejudice on the VCR. A laborless Labor Day.

And this, courtesy of Bossy Little Dog, and quizilla, for a chuckle.

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posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


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Monday, September 01, 2003  


Here are the instructions of the technique I gave KnitDad for putting in intarsia designs when knitting a circular piece.

· Select a place that is the least conspicuous spot in your sweater where you won’t mind a little “seam” line. Center back works, or perhaps in a sweater, a side seam. You will work with two stitches, creating a bit of a zig-zag.

· When you come to your intarsia design, add the new color and knit the pattern, drop the color and begin the next/original/second/other color.

· Knit to the seam stitch, slip that stitch to your right needle, bring the yarn forward between the two needle tips, slip the “seam stitch” back onto the left needle, take the yarn to the back between the needle tips, and turn your work around. (Wrap & Turn)

· Now purl back, picking up the design yarn, which is waiting there for you, and purl the design.

· Drop that color, pick up your original color and knit around to the wrapped seam stitch.

· Purl the wrap and the stitch together

· Wrap & Turn the next stitch.
· Turn your work around and knit back, working the intarsia design as above.

· Knit the wrap and stitch together

· Wrap & Turn the next stitch

· Keep on in this manner until your intarsia design is complete.

VOILA! You are a knitting genius.

In other news, LD is standing his last duty and will be back for good Tuesday night. Oh? That isn’t news? Well, it’s only the most exciting thing in my life right now, so I’m bound to repeat myself.

Finished another swatch for Jen, a sock weight super wash merino in lovely reds. And spun a bit on the merino/cashmere - It’s a tricky bit of spinning - and I am also very clumsy with things right now because I pulled up all the hitchhiker weeds in the garden. Four heaping wheelbarrows full. There are still mountains of weeds to pull, but these had to go before their seeds matured or I wouldn’t be able to work in the garden at all till next spring.

I’m always planning on doing a fall clean-up. I have only ever done one. But if I don’t teach classes this fall - and it doesn’t look like I will - then I really ought to attend to the garden. Why is weeding in March so much fun and weeding in October so dreadful?

Okay - today I plan to savor a delicious day off. It’s rainy. It’s fairly cool. I don’t have anything I have to do, though the house is dirty. Sheryl comes on Thursday. I can wait. Especially if we just get in the car and go somewhere. Or I can spin or hunt up my missing knitting needles. I will knit, at least a little, on the SGV. It’s just a holiday. I can do anything or nothing. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

posted by Bess | 7:20 AM