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


Can't wait to see you! I don't think we're going to the Yarn Lounge, but will send out an email to the group to confirm that.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:48 AM  

Just wanted to drop in to say Thank You for your call last week! I miss you two terribly!! As the song says.."See you in September"! I'm so excited, I feel as though I am going on holiday!LOL


By Anonymous Patti (in Oregon), at 11:39 AM  

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Monday, August 28, 2006  

I have no reason for the weekend silence. Just didn't feel like writing. The Auction Sock #2 part A is down to the toe decreases. I'll finish it tonight and cast on tomorrow for AS#2pB. I'm off to visit my folks for a few days. The plan is for the 2/3's of the women in my family who can play to do so with a vengeance. We're thinking Virgina Museum of Fine Arts - with lunch out. But we're not going to be strict about it - we'll take our pleasure where we can. Mama is not too mobile these days and tires easily. Then again, we have youth and vigor in the form of a niece, to inspire and help out. I'm just glad we can all get together like this.

I will also try to swing by Barnes & Noble on Tuesday night to catch a few hugs and knit a few stitches with the Southside Knitters. Hope some of y'all are there and not all at the Yarn Lounge.

posted by Bess | 7:54 AM


Well, I hope I was somewhere in your thoughts, because I do love you, very much.

By Blogger Amie, at 10:11 PM  

And even though we haven't spent that much time together, I feel like I know you a little bit, Bess, and I love you, too! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:47 AM  

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Friday, August 25, 2006  

Oooooo. Those weather dot com guys are warning of serious heat over the next few days. Hmmmm. I was getting quite used to sweet weather. Oven temperatures are no good news for me. But it is weather and it must be endured and these wide swings between the cool of the night and the heat of the day means we may get some rain. No dark cloud without its silver lining, hmm?

I am sure my legions of fans are waiting to hear how the Auction Sock #2 part A is doing ... and I am pleased to say I’m motoring down the sock foot. Something like 55 rows to toe decreases. I’m not much of a one for setting deadlines on my knitting, but for these I believe I shall do so. I’ll be going back to the city - and a yarn shop where I will buy GuySockYarn - on Tuesday so the goal is to be past the heel of AS#2pB (figure it out?) by then. Since once I’m in the city I shan’t have all that much driving to do, and I may ... just may ... get to go to the TNK’s at Barnes & Nobel, where I am sure I shall knit furiously, inspired by all the hilarity of Gals with Needles, I expect to finish those AS#2 by Thursday.

Or everything could change. Because this is life. And who knows what’s really around the corner?

Yesterday was a day of cranky weirdness. I updated the sidebar on my blog and then evidently deleted it instead of saving it, for it’s still the same old sidebar. BD had a dr. visit way off in Chester and I accompanied him (whence the well knit sock). The energy in the car was all wrong and while things never degenerated into words, for believe me, the Laird does not smolder, he’s an Aries and is always on the surface, it took every ounce of counter-energy I had to not nag or backseat drive or hiss at one thing or another. Well, to be honest, I did suck air in between my teeth a time or two.

It was hot in the city, Chesterfield County has built so many new roads along western Hull Street and Genito Drive that no gazetteer or map can keep up with it, we got lost three times and ... I was sooooo glad to get home. I would doubt the efficacy of all the Inner Calm and Spiritual Growth I’ve been working on after such a day except that, through it all we never had a single quarreling word. So - something must be working.

At home things became even stupider, as I dropped the expensive fish oil on the kitchen floor, where it promptly smashed and ... you know ... fish oil on your kitchen floor. Thank god for Dawn!

Believe me, I was never so glad to go to bed!

But the day ended with something sweet. Each day I select something about myself to appreciate. Then, when things go south, the moment I realize I’m feeling something Not So Great, I’m supposed to flip my attention and my emotions to my pre-selected Great Thing I Appreciate About Me. This is a 30 day exercise and I’m about 2 weeks into it and I have so much trouble finding GTIAAMs. Mind now, I am not one to dump on myself - or at least, once I realize I’m doing so, I stop - but I’m not just supposed to think about something nice ... like knitting, or dogs, or my job, or how I can grow great fingernails, or that I can sing on tune. I’m supposed to actually feel just how really great it is to be, have, do, know, whatever it is that I appreciate. And identifying that many things that are really that I have such strong feelings about is difficult. I’m really scraping some days, but last night I hit on something that wiped away all the crabbiness and slapstick clumsiness of the day.

As I drifted off to sleep, feeling a little boohooey about TheQueen, I thought, “Well, at least BD loves me.”

And from there I began to list all the people I know who probably love me. First the ones I am sure do so: Mama, Dad, immediate family, closest friends. Then I identified those who probably love me: cousins and other friends, a couple of work colleagues. Finally I started identifying the ones who might love me, at least a little: library patrons I’ve helped in some special way, e-mail buds and such. And as each person flitted across my mind, all of that cranky crabby grouchy prickly day just melted away in the sweet warmth.

What a great way to end a day - what a great way to begin one. Why not try it yourself, next time things feel blue and low.

posted by Bess | 7:36 AM


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Thursday, August 24, 2006  

The girlie-girl day in the city was a blast. Of course, the term girl is relative. Our combined age came to 204 and 11 months. And BD would question the term city too, since the closest we got to actual city limits was the airport in Sandston.... which is in Henrico County.

"Semantics!" I scoff. And pure fun it was. L is one of the people I can get all Rod Serlingish (do do do do do do do do) with - heck - she’s my mentor when it comes to energy work. I can say all the weird things I want to her and she either listens and nods or offers more weirdness. This is good. Ordinary life requires entirely too much beige. We spent the whole day beaming and laughing with glee at the results.

I didn’t have any agenda yesterday, other than to have a good time, but all the past week I’d been seeing, in my mind's eye, this one shopping section along Rt. 1 in Hanover so that’s where we headed. L didn’t know the area well enough to tell me where she wanted to go and I don’t think she really had any specific goal in mind either, so I just pointed the car down Spring Hill Road, just up from Broaddus’ Flats, spouting Virginia history tidbits along the way. “That’s where Latane was killed - you know? in the burial of Latane?” “That’s where R G Haile lead Mrs. Lee across the Chicahominy” “See why trains never got to Tappahannock? Used to be you had to take a wagon to West Point if you wanted to take a train anywhere.”

We weren’t aiming for any cool, cute, out of the way places. We wanted Circuit City and Barnes & Nobel and oh, someplace with good salads for lunch. But taking L shopping is soooo much fun. She truly shops only once a year - when she leaves the island. She’s ready to be pleased with everything. You can’t help being up around someone who’s thrilled to pick up spiral notebooks or CD’s in the music section, but if Circuit City happens to have that little Sony recorder with the audio character recognition software included, well, you get to watch Christmas in August.

It was hard to say good-bye at the hotel, after a laughter filled dinner at one of those airport restaurants. I’ve always been very fond of L. We have a real bond that’s grown over the years into true affection. But her visits in the past have been packed with family events and our contact has been fairly brief. This year we spent more time together and the parting left much more of an emptiness. The drive back home, across landscape we’d traversed earlier in the day, had a soft quietness to it. There was traffic on the road all the way to Tappahannock so that it wasn’t till I was on the long stretch north of town before I had a dark night all to myself. I won’t see L for a whole year. But I know that when I see her at the airport next August we’ll just pick up the conversation and the laughter and go on as if it had been only a few weeks.

Friendship is just that way.

posted by Bess | 7:15 AM


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006  

I check my statscounter page every day - looking first to see how many people logged into TheCastle and then to see what sorts of searches resulted in a hit. As my lemony girlfriend S would say, “some people have too much time.” But the questions that prompt yahoo or google to offer this blog up as a solution to someone’s NeedToKnow are often usually tell exactly which post hooked them in. The frequent search for pictures of extremely flat chested women gets the information seeker my ranting diatribe about the 2005 vomitacious movie travesty of Pride and Prejudice; a movie I went to see solely for the purpose of being able to say horrible things about it. Of course, any request for info about my namesake, Elizabeth I, brings a guaranteed hit; that’s pretty much a no brainer. But some of the oddest things will pull up links to me. Today’s weird search question was caused by a typo: “regal beth room rugs”. LikeTheQueen was link #9, the post about the reunion, and the word matches were “regal” and “room”.

I don’t puzzle over the fact that my blog gets offered up by search engines for the most preposterous questions, after all, they’re just computers looking for a specific set of character strings, proof that IA hasn’t yet hit the net. What tickles me is that someone looking for bathroom rugs actually clicked on the link to a post that looks like a description of a meal. Do you suppose it was the lure of chocolate that tempted beyond restraint? My admonition to a wee child to eat desert first? I wonder.

I sincerely hope nobody was looking for knitting news - not about yesterday and here's a hint; there shan’t be any tomorrow either. Work was super delightfully busy yesterday, in productive meetings from 12 to 3. I adore committee work when the committee has a specific charge, each member accepts his or her responsibility, and it disbands once it reaches its goal. The noon committee, the group putting together our Friends of the Library’s first auction is just such a one. We have 4 weeks to the big event and so far as I can tell, it’s all on schedule. Makes me proud, but also makes me very happy.

Today I must bid good-bye to L, the dear friend who introduced me to the fascinating world of hypnosis. She is a hypnotist and the daughter of one of my library volunteers. She visits once a year and we usually fit in a session. This year we never had a chance to go exploring but we have gotten in some good visiting. I’m taking the afternoon off so we can go play in the city. She lives in St. John, VI, where shopping is limited to tourist items. Thus, if you need a ball point pen or a spiral notebook ... mama better send it to you. So we’ll go look at the simplest of things - Target and Office Max, Barnes & Nobel and chain grocery stores. It’s so much fun to watch her get excited about an entire aisle of dry cereals. Like taking a time traveler from the past to the Mall.

After dinner I’ll drop her off at her motel and her mom and I will drive home in the evening dusk, talking about everything from family reunions to the latest novels. L visits every August, just after TheReunion. If I wasn’t feeling the pull of summer drawing to a close already - I’ll surely feel that soft sighing sensation tonight.

Tomorrow, I get to be the passenger so there will be knitting news by Friday.

posted by Bess | 8:02 AM


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006  

Operating under the assumption that even the minutia of my life is of value, I am putting in this wee tad bit of a post.

I knit 6 rows of the heel flap on AS#2.

Then, true to MissLoquacity’s inescapable nature, I will tell you that I also switched to the #2 KnitPicks needles because I’d knit this sock cuff on 56 stitches which is just a little loose for a woman’s (my) ankle yet a little tight for a man’s (BD’s). So this will be a woman’s scrunchy sock with a nice snug foot.

And I will tell you also that K, my niece, the only girl grandchild on my side of the family, has gone back to the city with my sister P, and her L. But not before we had a rollicking time with a boat ride, complete with a Lab, Socks the pseudo lab, a Priss-dog and a fashion accessory Pomeranian, up to see the cliff where the Powhatans shot at John Smith in 1608, on his way up to Fredericksburg. There was a stop at the swimming beach, a return at low tide - so low we had to toss the dogs in the marsh, rendering them unfit for human petting, while the rest of us stood on the engine well. There were no human mishaps, fortunately, and we got back up to the house to find LD and his dogs. So there were 6 humans and 7 dogs in the yard, but only the puffball got to come indoors. She was not tossed into the marsh, btw.

I will also tell you that we laughed and talked into the night with nary a whisper of gossip about any of our kith or kin. And GD joined us in time for a brief visit before everyone had to leave. And when I bid all goodnight or good-bye, the house was empty and soft and dark and quiet. And cool. And sleep came swiftly to blanket the mind with dreams so bizarre and exotic as to be worth staying in bed for.

And I’ll just mention that today I have 2 big meetings and tomorrow I am taking L and her mom to the city to play (and maybe pick up some more Regia for a second stab at AS#1) and Thursday I’ll be off with BD to become MoreHealthy and that involves lots of time spent as a passenger in a car .... Will she finish that AS#2 sock? Let us hope so. There are 3 more to go after that.

It’s a busy time. These are the sort of days that fill up that space between TheReunion and Labor Day. Days you thought were going to be sort of do-nothing-ish and turn out to be fuller than all of July put together. Not momentous. Not deeply thoughtful. Not literary. Just busy.

I just thought you’d all like to know.

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM


There was a special on PBS recently about great ice cream around the country, and Carl's was featured! I never knew it existed before, but now know that I must stop there next time I'm in F'burg! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:35 AM  

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Sunday, August 20, 2006  

It’s 7:30 and the sky has that white grey cast that bespeaks rain. My only complaint about a rainy day is that my floors need mopped and not only do they become dingier looking on rainy days, but they also never dry then. Eh. If that’s all I have to fuss about, my life is pretty durn good. Which it is!

I picked up my niece at the train station in Fredericksburg. There was just the sweetest bit of a wait while I talked to strangers and we mused about how to know if the train would be on time or if it might be late and if so, how late. Next stop was to treat K to some of Carl’s Frozen Custard - the best you can buy along the whole eastern seaboard. Carl’s is only open 10 months of the year - which makes it all the more precious. There is always a line at Carl’s but it moves so fast you don’t really mind standing there, contemplating the wonderful treat you’re about to savor. Carl still makes Malteds.

A stop at Sneed’s vegetable stand revealed another treat! Organic beef, no hormones, no antibiotics! And the grower is just across the river from Port Royal - so when the vegetable stand closes after Labor Day I can still get a supply. The Sneed’s corn was its usual sweet self but alas, he was out of tomatoes. Fortunately, Cupper was still open at 5:30 and I stocked up on them. I don’t have to go to town again till Monday, no matter how much company does or does not show up today.

We sat late on the porch catching up on family and on K’s life in Seattle before she and BD wandered off into a tortuous meander through the linguistics of the Germanic tongues. At that point I wandered off myself - to bed and a deep sleep, disturbed only by the faint whiff of skunk. Thank goodness it was just passing through, because all my dogs are house quality fragrant this morning.

I think I’ve figured out how to fit all my knitting classes into an already crowded autumn. It will mean one night class and one Saturday class. Here’s hoping the fill up nicely because I need the $ for spending on fiber fun.

No knitting or spinning yesterday - maybe today.

posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


I hear Regia is a nice knit. On Addis - even better!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:31 PM  

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Saturday, August 19, 2006  

Just a pop-in to wonder at the mystery of the right yarn with the right needles. I have knit for over a week on the Auction Sock #1 and have only just finished the cuff - and I hate the yarn on the needles and I hate the needles in the yarn.

So yesterday I switched over to some Regia on #3 Addi Turbos and though I spent plenty of time enjoying the back country roads through New Kent and Charles City counties, I also have this much knitting to show for it!

posted by Bess | 10:32 AM


Dearest Bess,
Can so totally identify w/a packed out, getting more full every second schedule.
We would love to have some of your "looks like rain" weather - Philly is dry as a bone.

By Blogger Martha, at 1:03 PM  

Honk, Honk!!

Love Ya and miss ya!


By Anonymous Patti, at 10:44 PM  

Well, I hope this just means we'll get to see you on the 29th! :-)

And as far as I'm concerned, if you're knitting something for someone else, and don't get to keep it, then you should at least have the pleasure of knitting it, right?! Hating the yarn and/or pattern AND having to give it away is really making the whole ordeal a chore, rather than a hobby, ya know?

By Blogger Mary, at 8:58 AM  

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Friday, August 18, 2006  

Schedules! Mine are driving me crazy. Just when I get everything running easily at work and think I have a couple of weeks to roll out in front of me like some yellow brick road or magic carpet, I realize that every moment, spare and essential, in my calendar is spoken for. Just when I thought I could slip on ovah to Richmond (an old Essex County expression) for next week’s TNK’s I realized I have to be out of the office Monday afternoon, Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday. No going anywhere for me this Tuesday. On top of that, as I begin to plan real vacation time - a whole week off, not just a Monday afternoon - I see that the VLA convention is the same exact days as the KRRetreat and the week in October I planned to take off is at exactly the same time the library director’s annual meeting. Well, I can change my vacation week and postpone the TKN Tuesday, but sheesh! Besides we have guests coming in from two directions over the weekend and I have to work Saturday.

Of course, that means I get today off. A sweet long Friday with nothing to do. BD suggested taking a ramble and we may still do it, though today has the look and smell of rain. We can decide later. Whatever we do, I’ll take plenty of time to knit Auction Socks. Whether it will be to continue to slog on with AS#1, which is sooooo uninspiring, or whether I just abandon that sock and start on AS#2 with something pretty and girlie while I wait for a more-appealing-but-guy color to come in is still undecided, but at the moment interesting is edging out dooty'n'responsibility'n'thrifty by just a hair. I have a serious problem with making my pleasure and delight into a task master’s whip. Just doesn’t seem like a healthy karmic balance to me.

* * *

ooops. Got called away from the computer for a bit and the muse has abandoned me. Best go look for her among the sock yarn stash. Ta. Good knitting.

posted by Bess | 7:47 AM


Honk! Great post! I love my fair city so always love when people wax eloquent about it. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 8:55 AM  

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Thursday, August 17, 2006  

Honk if you live in Richmond

More crisp end-0-summer days are swirling around us. Days that make me think about things I have loved. Days that dredge up beautiful memories of being 16 and finally growing tall and driving a car and sipping coffee with Mama on the front porch. Days of coming home from the beach where I was almost as popular as the girls in the beach blanket bingo movies. Days when I knew I was going to buckle down to schoolwork soon, but now that I was growing up, it wasn’t so hard to figure out how to get it all done, make the grown-ups happy, and still be true to myself. Days for dreaming, but days for doing a little, too.

Funny how different months shoot arrows of remembering back to different times in my life. I can’t remember anything specific from the Augusts of my childhood - those years before high school. July has the link back to those days, and the blackberry weeks of late June. Those were the months when we lived in Chesterfield County, before it was paved with tract housing and shopping centers. Back when a trip to Gresham’s Country Store, which was not quite out as far out of the city as Clover Leaf Mall - yeah - that place, you Richmonders - was considered a day trip requiring a picnic lunch.

November memories always focus around that little Janke Road neighborhood. It was one of the few suburban pockets flung out between the city line and Bon Air. (which itself is in the city now) This was before the inner ring of Chippenham Parkway was built. Back when everyone called it Po White - you know? because there were so many po whites livin’ out there? Po White Creek? Where I played as a child? Not Pow Hite. (!!! - you know I’m thinking "yankee come heres")

That was where you could have acorn wars with the boys, safe in the knowledge that, before things got too rough, some grownup would come along and break it up. That was where blue day flowers lasted long into the autumn and you could crush them and mix them with water and make ink ... sort of ... that you could use with your feather quill pen you bought at the Valentine Museum on the class trip. Because you knew better than to touch Daddy’s bottle of ink on the desk in the den.

Sometimes weather is the key to what memories a particular month can lay claim to. Sometimes weather can stake out several types of time frames: Snow in January reminds me of those many trips back from D.C. and my grandmother’s house and all the hope hope hope that the snow would last past Fredericksburg. It almost never did. Snow in January usually stopped at the 48th parallel, where slushy rain would take over, ensuring the school busses would run on Monday.

But snow in January also dredges up the glorious storm of ‘66 and the other one that came at the end of the month in ‘68. That year the storms came just before exam week and I remember walking home from St. G’s (on Stuart Ave), across the Nickel Bridge (Boulevard) to my home on the south side. A couple of miles, and I never once saw a buss.

Easter is always soft warm green grass beneath the redbud tree in the back yard. It always rained on Good Friday when I was little and it was always sunny by Sunday. And April means puddles of warm water in little pools on the tar patches in the road when you walked down the hill from the bus stop. You are still young enough to get dolls for your birthday in April. You are still worried that you won’t get that project done and turned in to your teacher on time. It never occurrs to you to ask your parents to buy you a folder to put it in, because any time you ask them to buy you something they always say "save your allowance". You just figure you don’t have one and you can’t get one. You get an F for science that 6 weeks.

You are still worried that you’ll trip on the playground and someone will see your underpants.

Late May and June brings up memories as sweet as the honeysuckle you smell along Riverside Drive, riding home with Mama from ... oh ... any place down town. Maybe you’ve been to the main library. Maybe you’ve been to a music lesson. Who knows. Maybe you were shopping at Thalhiemers or Miller&Rhoades. Maybe you stopped at the Jewel Box and bought a pair of earrings. It hardly matters. What’s important is how green the woods are marching down to the river, and how sweet the air is. Heady with promise and tenderness and a whisper that soon, soon, you would be all grown up and InChargeOfYourLife! You would have your own dishes!

Weather. Seasons. Memories. It is mighty good that we’re given this fabulous data storage system in our hearts and our heads. It can keep us entertained for hours!

posted by Bess | 8:10 AM


I'm impressed with all your recent sock knitting. I need to get back to that. Lately, for me it's been the dishcloth, which is so fun.

I'd love to take your hat class -- is it on a weekend?

By Blogger Mary, at 11:04 PM  


Love the walk down memory lane - as a life-long Virginian and a Richmonder for more than 20 years, I miss hearing "Po' White".

By way of introduction, I took the drop-spindle class with you at the Spring Fiber Festival.


By Blogger Lisa, at 8:56 AM  

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006  

There are 5 inches of sock cuff on Auction Sock #1. It looks an awful lot like a woman’s sized sock, but I’ll try it on BD before I knit the foot. It’s on 60 stitches, which usually fits a man, but this Socotta (sp.? not looking at the ball band) is very thin yarn. Obviously, if this is AS#1 there is a pair of AS#2 in the plan. I've committed to 2 pair of socks for the library auction. This stuff I'm knitting is fine for a plain old ordinary sock for a woman, but not very exciting. I’d rather knit something flashy for a woman. I know my audience and in Essex, men won’t wear much beyond plain blue or black with just a tad bit of the other dark neutral colors.

My daddy always wore bright red socks. I asked him about it once. He taught tax law at the local university’s night school law program. These students were adults, with 40 hour jobs already and family obligations to boot. They came to class already tired and likely stressed out. He said his flashing red ankles really helped keep his students awake. Clever fellow, my dad.
Neither of my guys want socks that keep you awake. I suspect no one else around here does either. So sober socks these AS#1’s are going to be. Unless they are too small, in which case I will break down - buy some sober men’s sock yarn in something quicker to knit up, like Regia, and put it down to charity, not vow breaking. I have plenty of interesting fun girlie sock yarn in the stash.

The new KnitPicks catalog came today and I am absolutely flummoxed by a manufacturing decision they’ve made. For all that they’ve put this enormous effort into creating their own brand of knitting needles, they have manufactured no needles on which you can knit a hat. The shortest cable on their interchangeable needles is 24". Even my head is too small for a needle that long. There are no double points or traditional circular needles in sizes larger the a three. (3.25) What an utterly stupid thing to do! Too bad for me too, since I am starting up classes in September and I always provide the needle for my beginners - a 16" size 7 needle - and teach them with a hat pattern. Sigh. Ahh Well. Guess I will be stuck with mail order Inox. Hmmmm. Think I’ll go check out Elann.Com.

The summer is whipping through my fingers like a mooring line come undone in a hurricane. I suddenly realized that if I want to start teaching again in September I have to have my classes all lined up and advertised NOW. That’s how I plan to spend my lunch break today.

With no other news, and a decidedly "all my guests have gone and my heart feels empty" sigh I believe I shall go knit a round or two on that sock.

Good knitting, then - or good planning. Most of all - good day.

posted by Bess | 7:36 AM


In the spirit of a visit from L and your adventure with the book "Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting"....I recommend seeing "What the Bleep do we Know?" and reading almost anything on quantum physics and the brain-spirit-emotional-chemical connection...And Ramtha is quite interesting I think. Happy Manifesting.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

Two thoughts:

1) I, too, agree that the meal isn't over and it isn't dessert unless there's chocolate.

2) You need to write down this family history for future generations - it is a priceless gifts to give your descendents. You might even want to go so far as using Family Tree Maker (or similar) software. But if nothing else - capture the stories and the relationships for the future.

By Blogger Mary, at 4:14 PM  

Good suggestions to share with Knit Picks re: their new needles. Maybe they'd consider adding to their set!!

By Anonymous Robin, at 7:36 PM  

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Monday, August 14, 2006  

And so another reunion has come and gone, punctuating the year, while moving time forward a notch. If you begin with J. T. Hoskins, the founder of this spreading brood, the reunion reaches back to 1817, the year of his birth. Hannah Elizabeth Ware was born some 20 years later; his second wife, mother of The Sisters. There were two boys of the first marriage and two from the Hoskins-Ware union, but it was The Sisters who really embody the reunion, and were, I suspect, responsible for this wedding anniversary celebration getting off the ground. They, of course, are long gone, and of the cousins, as that next generation are called, only 93 year old Joe Pollard is left. Not even an ancient widow remains since Elvira Henley died last year. With the passing of Elizabeth Tribble, the next generation is beginning to peel off. She’s the oldest of my own BD’s generation and he is one of, if not the youngest. Fourth cousins of my son are now parents of children who will be going to college in a week or two. It is just a matter of a few years before we have sixth cousins coming to this reunion as wee tiny babes.

At least, that’s what I hope and that’s why I have shouldered what little responsibility I do have for seeing that this gathering continues. This is Virginia, where venerable old traditions are still alive. There are still folk who say "Pawpa said ..." and "That’s the way it’s always been done" and until world domination by the RandomAccess generation is complete, I suspect we can count on hearing them offered up as fine reasons for just about anything. As I said, this is Virginia, so something this old has a right to keep on keeping on, merely because it is this old.

Happily, the weather gods were in the mood to bless this family with what I used to call "California Weather": dry air, bright sun, lamb-like puffy clouds and sweet breezes. I’m responsible for keeping up the mailing list and getting out invitations. I also provide all the paper products for about 100 folk and enough lemonade and tea as well. This way, I don’t have to cook, something I almost never want to do on your typical Bermuda High Virginia August weekend. We can’t count on California Weather, we can only be grateful for it. The other responsibility I share with BH is setting out all the paraphernalia: the name tags, mailing labels, and such, and directing all the food arrangements. We are the de facto hostesses and this has sometimes been a delight and sometimes been a burden. It’s always a joy afterwards, but for the past few years it was not one we eagerly anticipated. We just accepted it as our duty. A duty I’ve been about ready to pass on to someone else, in fact, bowing out of responsibility, not even caring that much if that person dropped it.

How glad I am that I began, about 10 days ago, to start tinkering with my soul’s joy-0-meter. By the time I was driving out our lane with BD, who can’t understand why I like to get there (anywhere) so early, I was prepared to have a splendid time, to not be upset about a thing, to greet them all with glad smiles and to just have one heck of a time. And that’s what happened. It was so breezy and cool we threw open all the windows to the church, letting in sunshine and crisp air for the first time I can ever remember. Folk came in so slowly that I figured we’d have a small crowd, and alas, none of the North Carolina nor Eastern Shore cousins came, but happily, my favorite William besides my own, was there with his darling mother and sweet natured father, his way-cool Aunt Mary and her beautiful daughter Katherine. As BH and I say, they are our kind of people, and I didn’t have the slightest qualm about telling them of my friend L, the past life hypnotist, who is visiting tomorrow.

Our favorite cousins pulled in fairly early and lent willing hands to everything. These are the Bedford cousins who put me up for 3 days last April when I taught spinning and told stories at the Sedlia Fiber Festival. They had brought word from my darling niece R who was too far away in Chicago to make it this year. Cousins came from Texas. Cousins came from Arizona. They came from Maryland and NoVA and a whole lot of cousins came from Richmond. There were Henleys from King and Queen and Hutchinsons and Hailes from Essex. 75 to 100 altogether, with enough food to feed them all, even if there wasn’t quite as much left over as some years. Somehow it all worked out as if planned by the best of caterers.

There was chicken, of course, mostly fried. There was some barbecue and of course, that southern staple, ham biscuits, though this was yankee ham, not the thin, chewy salty Virginia Ham. I’ve been the one to contribute real ham on beaten biscuits in the past, but as I said - I don’t cook in August if I can help it. There were any number of corn puddings from creamy to speckled with fresh off the cob kernels. Fresh garden vegetable dishes tumbled from a cornucopia of kitchens. On the last table the regal deserts held forth as supreme reason for dining. I love to lean down and whisper to a wee child that here it’s okay to eat desert first, so save room on your plate. The offerings were proof of a maxim I resent, but have to believe - that it’s not desert if it isn’t chocolate. And chocolate was there in plenty: brownies, cookies, chocolate whipped cream pudding, meringues, and a frosted Khaluah cake that Cousin Anne always brings from Roanoke. Even though my favorite thing there was a molasses pie, you can be sure I had a slice of that cake. For me, the meal has to end with chocolate, and if I don’t get any, I find myself eating and eating and eating, looking for the flavor point that says it's time to stop, that period at the end of the meal. Who would have thought TheQueen was a chocoholic?

Tables have always been set up inside the church hall for those too old to sit long in the heat but I never like to dine inside. For one thing, it’s too crowded and for another it’s too noisy, but the main reason is that once you’re at a table you don’t get to visit with anyone but your immediate neighbors. I far prefer to eat outside with the picnickers, usually younger cousins with children, drifting from one blanket to another, from one sister's greatand great-great grandchildren to the next. Saturday’s glorious weather made people linger much longer than usual, talking, sharing, gathering in clusters to be photographed, breaking up into new arrangements of kinship for more snapshots. For the first time I can remember, we’d done all the clean-up and driven off before the last of the visitors were ready to part.

Though BH and I do the artistic arrangements and the small personal details, we don’t do any of the heavy setting up. For years the Henley boys did all the work, with a little help from some of the other young men in the family. But someone has to linger at the church to lock up and that lingering can turn into excruciating patience when ancient great aunts who haven’t seen each other in a year want to chat a while in the cool before getting into cars and parting for another 12 months. At last, they rebelled and their mom backed them up. The first year I accepted the role as co-hostess I didn’t get out of that church till nigh on to 5 o’clock and I was almost screaming with frustration. Now we pay someone to do the heavy stuff and nobody has to be a victim.

Only 4 households gathered at our house in the late afternoon, for swimming and boating and dining again - yes yes - we do eat dinner on reunion day even if we already had our daily caloric needs met at lunch time. The Bedford cousins bring us peaches every year, white and yellow, succulent and sweet. There was ice cream and there were popcicles, and of course, any good house has a couple of bottles of champagne to celebrate with - just in case you have a celebration emergency. Conversations flowed from porch to dining room to upstairs bedrooms to back yards. Croquet was set up on the back lawn, favorite toys were spread out on the floor by 6 year olds, little girls gazed lovingly at teen aged boys. Just your typical family reunion core group, catching up on the details of all the news we’d shared in letters or emails or phone calls.
It was a loving end to a long day. It glowed for me all of its 24 hour hours.

The next morning was a softer version of the night before. We’ve cut our beautiful family tradition from the same pattern for 13 years but it's made of knitted fabric; flexable, stretchy. A teenaged boy is married and has his own house now. Little girls who were not yet in school that first year are now in college. A little boy who once wept when he had to leave drove the family car home this year. The reunion is different every year, even as so much stays the same. It spans almost 200 years of living to know and talk about, for stories about old J.T.Hoskins are still shared as if they had happened just last month and when he got here you could tease him about them. It’s a precious thing to know this much family history. I guess I can keep on as steward a little longer.

The weather stayed deliciously perfect. No sooner had the cousins driven off than BD’s brother drove up and the visit on the porch was as sweet as it’s ever been. When the silence of his departure settled over the house, BD and I took the three mile walk out to Robert’s Landing, savoring happy memories, anticipated delights and present joys. The late afternoon sun felt tender on our skin and the patches of shade had a coolness that carried with it the hint of fall. As we strolled past the west woods a harvest cricket began its autumnal song, that shrill cry that speaks of morning glories and tickseed, early dusk and sweaters. The dogs jumped a buck along Farmer’s Hall Creek. Still in velvet, it looked more like a reindeer with its huge antlers. It crashed up the bank and disappeared into the cornfield, Jack in hot pursuit and Priss yipping as she dashed past us.

There is no denying it. That great wheel of time is turning turning turning. Summer isn’t over yet. But it almost is. It always is. After The Reunion.

posted by Bess | 7:16 AM


Have a glorious reunion! I hope the weather cooperates and cools down some for the event.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:28 AM  

Have a great weekend with all you company!

By Blogger jane, at 2:58 PM  

Looking forward to hearing all about the reunion! I don't mind a laundromat if the weather isn't too hot out. But you're right - it is somewhat of the great divide.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:06 PM  

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Friday, August 11, 2006  

It’s a race down to the finish line today. Each year, on the Friday before TheFamilyReunion, BH and I have a manicure and pedicure. That’s a frivolity that somehow both strengthens us and releases us and we are neither of us willing to forgo that. Afterwards, we go to Walmart and buy paper plates and forks and cups and ice-tea and lemonade mixes. For smaller parties I’m willing to make real - but for 100+ I use powdered. Then I usually have to fly home to scrub the house in preparation for overnight guests. I’ll have to do that today too, but first I’m going to have to go by the laundromat and wash sheets. Sheets and sheets and sheets. We had glorious rejuvenating rain yesterday and we have thick clouds today. I need 5 beds worth of sheets, clean and fresh and, in August, in Virginia, that means just washed.

So between the morning luxury and the evening’s drudgery I will enjoy the modern version of down by the river. The large commercial laundromat in town is a watering hole for a vast portion of the county I never see. These are the unlettered, the non-reading, the single-parent-always-a-mom families. Who would have thought that one of the great divides in society was owning a washing machine?

I have always loved going to the laundromat and if I had one more free day in my week, I might still do so. As it is, it’s something I do when I need to wash - and dry - lots, or when there is nothing but rain in the forecast. I could wax on and on about what a wonderful social activity laundry can be, but I see I have 10 minutes left before I have to gather up my own pile of sheets and load up the car. Suffice it to say that I do not resent this task at all, even if it is going to tie up a huge chunk of a day when there are already a dozen other chores.

With company coming, and staying, I don’t expect to be back on-line till Monday. Even then, I will be happily driving to Richmond to pick up L, my hypnotist friend. She’s the dear heart who introduced me to the book I’ve been using these past weeks as I tinker with inner workings: Lynn Grabhorn’s "Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting". (Didn’t mean to be all suspenseful about that.) Perhaps I will be more chatty next week. Or more knitterly! Either way, know that my heart is out there with all of you. Don’t be afraid during unsettled times. There really is enough love to go around.

posted by Bess | 7:34 AM


I agree -- there wasn't a choice in the poll that fit me perfectly either. Perhaps somewhere between the first choice and the second....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:03 PM  

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Thursday, August 10, 2006  

This week’s Knitter’s Review poll got me to thinking. Here’s the question:

How would you define your current interest in knitting?

And here are the choices:

I am utterly, completely, and shamelessly obsessed with knitting.
I think I'm moving from totally obsessed to a healthy level of enjoyment.
I like to knit, but I wouldn't put a bumper sticker on my car advertising it.
I used to be more enthusiastic about it, but I've fallen into a bit of a rut lately.
I've had to put my enthusiasm on hold for the summer.
I'm trying to see what everyone else sees in it, but I don't always succeed.
I hate to say it, but I think my love affair with knitting is on its way out.
I absolutely despise knitting. What am I doing here, anyway?

Polls, like those darling quizzes, are fun, but no matter how clever the pollster is when she designs her list of questions and the categories into which she slots her subjects, they all share a single flaw - the choices are never quite an exact fit ... and “Other” is too much work to fill out. I suspect “Other” is a fishing expedition for ideas to jump-start the pollster’s imagination. The people who choose other are probably lumped into either the Creative category or the Troublemaker.

Mind now, I adore those people who come up with the questions, be they quizzes or fun, but real data gatherers like the KR polls. They’re clever, often very funny, displaying wit and creativity in their categories and their organizational choices. So this is not a complaint or a rant or grouse or anything like that.

It’s far more a bit of navel gazing into my current status. A checklist into TheQueen to see where her fiberish soul has been spending its time. I’m curious about this, not just because I am totally fixated on HerHighness, but because there is a subtle shift going on in my world. I’m pushing that shift with some serious energy work (I love that term - it can mean so many things but it always means what I mean too), and my little Virgo soul adores the idea of an inventory of myself. My blabbermouth self loves the idea of putting it down on paper and my Diva self is pleased to share it with the universe via this blog.

So. Taking Missy C’s choices as a road-map let us begin the journey.

I am utterly, completely, and shamelessly obsessed with knitting.

Lawasee, I remember how much fun it was to be there. I couldn’t wait to share everything I was doing with someone, to teach, to read, to answer every question posted on KR forums, to belong to several other mailing lists, to start a Blog!! Thoughts about knitting were my constant companion, whispering in my ear wherever I was, whatever I was doing. Like the flush of falling in love, it was, and I suppose, like that crazy wild stage, it couldn’t last. My new yarn was bound to pill. The pieces so carefully knit would pucker when sewn up. The sweater, tried on just before the button band was knit, would be too small...really to small.

This need not be a sad thing. It is usually the next stage in the natural blossoming of true love. But it can also be the harbinger of divorce so let us look at the rest of the choices and see which one fits TheQueen most nearly.

I think I'm moving from totally obsessed to a healthy level of enjoyment.

This is a pretty good choice - mostly because I like to think I approach life in a healthy manner, making good choices that keep me safe and sound. Even my obsessions have something of the wise good choice about them. I like to say I live by the Doctrine of Pleasure and when something no longer gives me pleasure, I stop doing it. At least, as soon as I recognize it, I stop. The whole purpose of my present spiritual activity is to train me to recognize things more quickly and have ready responses lined up for the swift and easy passage back into joy.

But ... I have watched other passions dwindle down to nothing. Could it be that my passion for knitting and other things fiber is actually fading away, that this is just the very dawn of divorce between fiber and me? Let us examine further....

I like to knit, but I wouldn't put a bumper sticker on my car advertising it.

I never put bumper stickers on my car. BD put that Pollard sticker on my car so he could find it among the sea of white cars in large parking lots.

I used to be more enthusiastic about it, but I've fallen into a bit of a rut lately.

Hmm. I am not knitting very much, but I don’t have a/c and it’s summer and it’s the south . . . and I am designing and inventorying things a little every day. No - I don’t think I’m in a rut.

I've had to put my enthusiasm on hold for the summer.

Maybe - this is another good option. I will knit more once the oppressive heat is gone. I’ll be indoors more, sitting more, feeling more cozy. But that steady thrum of putting things together in my head smacks a little too much of enthusiasm to choose this answer.

I'm trying to see what everyone else sees in it, but I don't always succeed.

Cute choice; snappy, giggly and a tad obvious. Of course another person’s obsession is weird. Other people are weird. Only self makes sense and even then, only some of the time. I almost never try to see what “everyone else sees in it”, like all those people who loved the Ya-Ya Sisters book. I just dismiss “everyone” else as ... lesser different beings.

I hate to say it, but I think my love affair with knitting is on its way out.

This is the one that pricks me. I have let beautiful creative flowing energizing outlets shut down in the past. My garden is a mass of weeds that even Frances Hodgson Burnett couldn’t put right. It will take the brutality of a tiller to fix this mess. When BD pushed my beautiful ceramic jar off the kitchen counter, the last little flame of desire to fashion beauty from painted clay went out. I don’t even have a song in my head all the time anymore, much less play either violin or harp. Passions move out of your life. That’s just the way it is. You can try to drum up renewed interest, but it’s as if they have their own calling as well. As if the love of knitting will live with me a while and then go to live with someone else. Knitting’s inanimate, but soulful self might just not have found the fit it was looking for in me.

Knitting is not an independent entity, you say? It can not choose, but must survive within its host like some parasite? It’s inanamateness (Lawsee I love the OED!) is like that of a chair or a rock? One can not have a spiritual relationship with objects, and surely not with activities? I am going wack-o?

Ahh well. There. You may think what you please. Read Asimov. Laugh at me. I will still go upon my way having personal relationships with the universe and laughing at myself as well! And of one thing I am abundantly sure. Nothing that we have loved ever completely leaves us. The act of love is so transforming that by loving we become a newer version of ourselves. We can not be the person we were before our encounter with the object of our love and that very growth, that expansion, reminds us always of the love we once held and the lover we once knew.

And so - I am not actually frightened that my interest in knitting will one day fade into memory. At the moment I imagine I would regret it - but I also know if it were to happen, it would only be to make room for another love to walk in.

I absolutely despise knitting. What am I doing here, anyway?

Well there. You have to have something for people who accidentally clicked the wrong link, or who’s typing is so abysmal they found themselves on this webpage.

As for any conclusions I could draw from this little exercise? At the moment, my designing and pondering and inventorying and touching urges tend to belie any true parting from my fiber-love. Time alone will reveal the future. In the mean time, I will just flow along with my present state of moderate knitting activity and wait to see what happens. I picked answer #2 and I’ll stick with it for the time being.

posted by Bess | 7:56 AM


Well, good for you and all your productive introspection. Looking forward to hearing (or reading) all about it someday.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:00 PM  

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006  

Still in that ‘workin’ on it’ stage with the old inner direction stuff - not yet ready to talk about it but finding enough positive results to keep me going back for more. Juggling duties and commitments, old wants and new desires is certainly the human state, but sometimes, making a shift, especially a deliberate shift, sort of dries up the loquacity. I just don’t feel flowingly linguistic.

Just know that things are good here - reeeeeealy good - if not fireworks blastoff ka-boom good - nor literarily good either ... yet. Just feel that smile on my face as it blossoms.

Sticky heat leapt back into Virginia (whole east coast, I believe) yesterday, making even my fresh clean sparkling house feel a little close. We are promised relief soon - I hope it takes the form of rain, since my grass is crisping beneath a relentlessly cloudless sky. Tough as this is, though, somehow it doesn’t feel so despairing this year. We did get good rains when we really needed them - when the corn was tasseling, for example - so there will be a crop and a little dry weather in August means the combines can roll a little sooner. Still and all, if there are any thunderstorms scattered about today, I hope one lands on my front yard.

Tonight is knitters night - though I wonder who will even feel like coming out to knit. I will, of course, and C and L and if only three show up it’s still sweet. I am going to take my Auction Sock and the little sleeve swatch of feather ‘n fan in all those odd lot yarns. Nothing impressive, but proof that There Is Knitting in August.

Take care. Stay cool.

posted by Bess | 6:28 AM


It's so nice to be productive, isn't it? Wish I felt that way! Have fun at your reunion!

By Blogger Mary, at 6:00 PM  

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Monday, August 07, 2006  

You ought to see my rugs! You ought to see my baseboards! My windowsills! My whole house! I ought to give a party.

This must have been cooperative-weekend, because everything conspired to make the jobs that had to be done go smoothly. There was a rental machine at the grocery store, with the upholstery attachment. (Sometimes there aren’t, you see)There was no rain, so all the laundry got dry. Just about all the heavy housecleaning that needs to be done after a hot busy summer, but before favorite cousins come for a visit, got itself done, with a little help from TheQueen. There are 2 inches of sock cuff on the needles. Even Bella decided to cooperate and spun a little for me. She knows I want to show her off next weekend.

The weather dot com guys say the peak of miserable hotness is a thing of the past. Who could do anything but rejoice at that news?

I haven’t felt very literary though. I’ve been concentrating on some meditative activities, trying to rearrange my daily schedule to fit in a little more deliberate inner work - work in this case connotating joyful busy-ness, not drudge labor. This has been deeply rewarding, sometimes surprising and quite time consuming. Ahh there. It’s always important to take care of the little person who lives deep inside and makes all the important decisions. If she feels neglected she tends to really mess things up.

I had a grand time with the Heritage Library building committee on Saturday - so great we didn’t part till 1:30, but they were pumped and, in fact, so was I. And true to the universe, with it’s totally connected network, a member of the committee is a frame conservator, noticed the enormous portrait hiding behind a couch in my library because the frame is damaged and it’s unsafe to hang, and offered to repair it for me! There you have it, give up a Saturday and get a favor. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work out?

And so a new week begins. A much cooler, busy without being finger-pointingly demanding, complete with a Tuesday Knitters gathering sort of week. It will end with favorite cousins and family reunion. Let us hope there will be a complete sock when I sit down to post next Monday.

posted by Bess | 7:33 AM


Thanks for the heads up, Dear Bess! I walk (almost) every day, knitting as I go (usually sox) will have to take care this week not to trip and damage hands and/or feet!

We have a balmy (!) 5C this a.m.!!! (That's about 41F for those not on metric.) So I knit and walk with a jacket on, for sure. However, the Weather People have promised 20C+ today (high 60's, low 70s) and warmer -- as high as 30C -- 86F -- by Tuesday.

But in case you're wonderin' -- no snow. ;-)

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:57 AM  

Dearest Bess,
I too love the cooler weather & especially living in the big city, oh my, it gets bad here. How I long for the country air - to be away from this much car induced smog & pollution.
Calgon, take me away!
Until then or at least when I take myself away, I will relish this great sleeping weather as my g'mother would say.

By Blogger Martha, at 8:57 PM  

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Saturday, August 05, 2006  

What is that whirling flurry you see? That swift, fragrant, musical swish stirring the air about you? Nothing less than TheQueen, doing the happy dance as the humidity snaps and the temperature moderates, leaving the air dry, the house feeling clean and HerHighness full of energy. Thank you Thank you Thank you oh Weather Gods.

What sweetness it is to walk barefoot across cool tile floors, to pull a light cotton blanket up over your shoulders in the night, to fling open windows to exchange the still, closed, but cooler air for fresh moving breezes. What pleasure it is to have skin that doesn’t glue itself to every surface it touches, to let hot breathed dogs back into the house again, to gaze across fields that aren’t blurry with humidity, to look up at sky that is blue, not white. The satisfaction of hanging clothes on a line and knowing they will fully dry is as sweet as the summer fruit salad you’re willing to eat on the back porch once again, instead of having to confine your meals to the dark north east corner of the house with a fan on full blast.

When you live in the weather, it has deep, physical power for you. You can discern each little nuance of movement, moisture and temperature. Weather matters when you submerse yourself in it. Think of camping trips. Think of vacations at the beach. All those times and places when you are outdoors at least as much as you are indoors. Remember how much it mattered to you when you were little and a rainy day could ruin a weekend faster than losing your skate key. Ha! Think of skate keys!

That is the state of TheQueen right now. She has just found her key and plans to take full advantage of it. She expects to sit in each room of her house this weekend, enjoying the pleasure of movement, the joy of a different view, and the comfort of wide open windows on a beautiful summer day.

After she cleans the rugs that is.

The weather dot com guys had been promising us days in the 80’s earlier this week, but they’ve revised it up to the low 90’s now. It’s a good joke when I can get this happy over 90 degrees. If only it will stay semi-dry next weekend I promise to take the rest of August’s weather with silent stoicism. Next weekend we’ll have house guests and I would love to have this fresh energetic feeling while they’re visiting.

Knitting progress was 2 more rounds of Auction Sock #1. I’m still k2p2-ing away on it. My hands have been hurting just a tad; definitely too much typing at the keyboard this week. And for my Virgo sisters and brothers, heads up:

You will also be prone to mishaps with your health this month, so it might not be the best time for extreme sports. Try to be extra careful, especially with your feet (in other words, watch where you walk) and with hands (protect them if you type a great deal.)

Well - why does this not surprise me? Dearies, take care.

Yesterday I had to hold down the fort alone and it was quite a busy 5 hours - at thate same rate of being helpful to 1 person every 4 minutes. Happily, nobody needed to fill out a job application, but still and all - that’s a lot of nice. I’ll be even nicer today when I go in On My Day Off to give another library's building committee a tour and pep-talk about the Building Project Experience.

And I really will rent the rug doctor and I really will hit the gym and I really will have a squeaky clean house for company next week. And maybe ... I really will knit some on that sock.

Savor your weather. It’s sure to change soon. Dance with abandon!

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


I remember the days before I owned a computer, in the mid-1990's and I'd go to the library and use theirs, and half the time the internet connection was down, and of course the library staff didn't know how to fix it. Frustrating. I was lucky to have anything to use at the time, I guess. I definitely sympathize with the folks applying for jobs. Is there a Virginia Employment Commission office near there you could refer them to?

By Blogger Mary, at 5:11 PM  

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Friday, August 04, 2006  

Total knitting content: 4 rounds of Auction Sock #1.

Not good, but at least it’s something. It’s Socka Fortissima in a mid-hue greysih green and I haven’t yet decided what sort of pattern I’ll use on it. I ripped the new KnitPick needles out of that Lorna’s Lace sock to start it - 60 stitches in k2p2 rib for 1.5 inches (since this will be the man’s sock) and probably then a simple k5p1 or k4p2 rib down the cuff.

There’s no serious deadline on this - End of August is good enough, so long as I have both pair done. And if I get really determined to start on that lace sweater - well - then you’ll know that it’s cooled off enough to want to knit anything bigger than a sock.

My spinning is idling as well. I get home pretty bleached out emotionally and once dinner is fixed I don’t feel much like doing anything else. There’s just nothing you can do in such a summer heat meltdown. Work is frantically busy and gets more so each day as people seek a cool place to hole up. We are averaging one person coming into the library every 4 minutes. Some of them don’t even need that much attention - they know their way around the library and it takes about 60 seconds to check out any given patron’s stack of books. But others - and we’re seeing more of these poor souls all the time - are coming in wanting to use a computer (for the first time other than to play Sego or Atari) to apply on-line for a minimum wage job.

FoodLion, TheGap, Army/Navy, Mary Washington Hospital - more and more these places will only accept on-line applications. “Go to to apply” It’s very distressing to me to watch and it’s enormously time consuming for us. First off, these guys don’t know how to type. They don’t have an email address (a requisite for all applications). They’re using the library computers because they don’t own one. They haven’t thought of a login name and password. They’re using a computer so they didn’t think to bring in paper or pencil to write down whatever they finally come up with that yahoo or hotmail doesn’t reject. The average time spent by these marginal people on applying to be a night stockman at FoodLion is about 90 minutes - if they were lucky enough to come in on a quiet day when we didn’t have a long line of people wanting to use the computers. Best try to hit us at 10 a.m. and not on a Wednesday, when we’re busy with kiddy programs.

Library staff has gotten pretty skilled at finding their way around the IMS, the IRS, VDOT, the DMV, all the freebie e-mail services, and most personnel pages for the major chain websites. I realize this is a serious transition from the manual to the digital age, a parallel to the transition from the oral to the literate age, but it’s hard watching the least able make this shift - or not, if the line of patrons waiting to use a computer grows too long. So far I haven’t had to put anyone off a computer half way through a job application - but it’s going to happen one day and oh, that will be sad. A great pivot for some depressing German film noire, that will be. Ahh well. Art is all around us.

Happily, it’s Friday and even if I’m still having to be nice every 8 minutes (figuring I’ll split the niceness with the one other employee working today) I don’t really have anything else I have to do. I’m trying to whittle down several piles of paper that have blossomed on my desk and credenza but that sort of work is like all other housework - eternal, and therefore, easy to postpone. The only reason I’m doing it at all is so that I will have a clean peaceful place to create more.

We are promised, by the weatherdotcom guys, a bit of a break from three digit temps. I plan to rent the rug doctor this weekend in preparation for TheReunion - which is next week!!! Other than that, I’m just gonna lay low.

Good knitting to you all!

posted by Bess | 7:31 AM


What on earth is NORO doing in your house???


By Blogger Amie, at 7:24 PM  

You can come to my house and play with fiber ;) It's just as hot here, but I can ratchet up the air conditioner.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:04 PM  

I wish my own heat-stunned brain could look at a tub of yarn as creatively as yours does!

By Blogger Jane, at 6:46 AM  

Even in air-conditioned comfort I've not felt all that inspired to knit much. But I did teach someone else how! More on the blog soon! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:14 AM  

Ain't it the truth about that Noro, Amie. But I bought it in a kit before I knew about my past life experience as a slave in a Japanese Fiber sweatshop. :D

If the sweater turns out to bring me bad luck, I'll have to find someone who looks good in it ...

stay cool guys.

By Blogger Bess, at 10:57 AM  

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006  

The dog days have slipped out of the kennel here in God's Country - or might I be forgiven for saying Dog's Country? - and everyone is cranky or stupid. I’ve taken the stupid route so it takes a double header like Saturday to inspire me to write at all. I might feel bad about this sloth if I thought I were the only one so sluggishly afflicted. Instead, though, this lizard like silence seems to be spread across the wide desert of my acquaintance. No one is writing email, blog posts are few and far between. We are all trying to suck in enough air to stay upright. It’s so sticky I rub corn starch on my forearms before I sit down at the computer to keep from I adhering to the desktop. It was 80 degrees this morning at 6:45. We’re promised triple digit temperatures again today - this is the hump day in both the weather cycle and work week, so I expect to whip through my morning routine of blog-reading in record time.

Almost needless to say ( since I am saying it) this is no week to play with fiber. Not in an un-airconditioned house, at least. There are only a few days a year when I really long for A/C. Most of the time I’m comfortable enough with fans’n’forest. Even this week, our floors are deliciously cool. If you don’t mind taking a nap on the rug, the cool floor will suck the heat right out of your body and leave you a little shivery after an hour. Walking around, trying to be active, even trying to be upright, though, and the pressure of heavy hot air from above can put you into slow motion after a few days of temps above 99.

But my lack of desire to touch fiber doesn’t wipe out my interest in it. Sunday I pulled out my three drawers of one and two skein yarns - some bought from sale bins, some left over from past projects. I have a drawer of greens, of golds-to-burnt oranges, and of rusts-to-browns. Though any one or two of them may be pulled out to knit hats or mittens, the plan is to one day make a sweater of many colors out of each drawer of yarns. The reality is that, for all I have so many skeins and balls of yarn, I’ve yet to come up with a total concept of sweater design and adequate yarn in a pleasing colorway - until Sunday.

Having sorted the yarns by color, I’ve always pulled out just the one drawer and pondered its potential. Each drawer holds about 2500 yards of yarn, all capable of being knit at approximately 5 stitches to the inch. It runs the gamut of Classic Elite’s waterspun to silky nylon fur stuff by way of some glitter, some boucle and some handpaint. But the gorgeous handpaint merino I got from Kelly is just a little too tan for the rusty browns and the green alpaca is actually enough for a whole sweater. The three colors of peachy/orange all go together but if I use that palest one, I can’t use any of the goldy oranges. Too much color quarreling going on there.

Still and all, I always buy yarns from the warm half of the color wheel so I just knew there had to be a way to combine them. Sunday I once again tried to make my yarns play nicely but this time I pulled out all three drawers and it took only a moment for me to realize: I could pull from all three drawers and come up with a wonderful and even more exciting combo.

And what did I come up with? Let’s see what’s in the project bag.

4 skeins of Classic Elite Waterspun felted merino 540 yards

2 skeins Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals in the old version of New England Fall 200 yards

2 skeins same in matching solid Chestnut 200 yards

1 and a piece of Anny Blatt Chimere ($10.50 a ball!!) Orange mohair boucle @185 yards

1 ball Lane Borgosesia Swan (silky fury eyelash) in goldeny burnt orange 89 yards

1 ball and some pieces of Smart Superwash tweed - the gold yarn I knit Flidas from @100 yards

1 ball Trendsetter Dune in color #49 99 yards

2 balls NORO(!!)in unknown colorway, lables long gone 200 yards?

The sweater design will be a classic EZ seamless yoke sweater done in feather and fan lace with garter stitch edges at bottom, nekcline and wrists. The sleeves will be a little flared and I'll do either a garter or seed stitch seam band underneath for the increases.

That's the plan, anyway. And planning is half the fun.

No spinning news. No knitting either, because the very next thing I must do is knit 2 pair of socks for the Friends of the Library Auction.

Stay cool out there y'all.

posted by Bess | 8:06 AM