Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Project



of 2006. I did this one with the alpaca blend yarn I got for Christmas. It isn't blocked yet, but still looks ok.


New Year's Eve was never a big holiday when I was growing up. We never went to parties or anything. We didn't even stay up until midnight. Our celebration involved gathering around my Dad's short wave radio at and listening to Big Ben in London chime midnight. It was 6:00 PM local time. I was grown before I ever knew a ball dropped in New York City.

When I was really young, my dad worked shift work at one of the local petrochemical plants. He always got Christmas off, but often had to work New Year's Eve. One such year, he was headed out to work the 4:00 PM to 12:00 AM shift. As he walked out the door, he called, "See you next year!" I was too young to understand the subtleties of that humor, and I burst into tears. I thought I wouldn't see my daddy for a whole year. It upset me so, that he didn't play that joke again for a long, long time.

Now, of course, we usually go to B and J's for a little family get together. I'm still not big on parties, but what I'm really not big on is driving home afterwards with all the drunk people on the roads.

So to all my friends and my 5 faithful readers:

Happy New Year

May God's blessings be upon you in the coming year. I love you all!



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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dreary Day

Cody and I had planned on driving up to Memphis to go to the zoo, and to do a bit of shopping along the way. But when we got up this morning, our Saturday Sky looked like this:



and the yard looked like this:


with the rain still coming down. As I type this at 6:27 PM, it still hasn't stopped. As a result, it has been a rather lazy day of watching movies, surfing the Net and knitting. As a secondary result, I really don't have a whole lot to blog about.

Before I go, though, I will share with you the latest picture of my brother and his family. This is Russell, Yoke Wan, and my nephew Joshua, who will be 3 in March. One of these days, I'll get a picture of my brother without his tongue stuck out.


Speaking of nephews, my sister's third son is due sometime within the next two weeks. I'll post pictures and news as soon as I get it.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Cindy's Visit

Cindy and her adorable son Aaron paid a call to Chez Becky this evening.

Aaron is the one I wrote my Snakekeeping 101 post for, and he really wanted to meet the snakes. I, for one, was very impressed with Aaron. He was calm and relaxed, and though he was excited about meeting the snakes up close and personal, he wasn't jumpy or jittery like most 6 year olds would be. He held the snakes gently and didn't try to grip or squeeze them.


He was delighted with Sunny, while Cindy holds Monty in the background.

He looks quite proud of himself as he's gotten the hang of holding a squirmy snake,

while Katie, on the other hand, was a bit jealous and demanded attention for herself. Cindy took it all in stride.

I just love this picture. Aaron appears to be absolutely enchanted by Snow.

In the end, he got to hold or touch all of the snakes except Onyx, who sometimes freaks out around strangers, and Scarlett, because of her health issues.

Aside from the snakes, Cindy and I had a great visit. I was a bit nervous about meeting her. I always worry when meeting new people for the first time that I won't be able to think of anything to talk about.

I needn't have worried. Cindy and I chattered nonstop the whole time she was here. We talked about knitting and spinning. We talked about karate. We talked about our various health concerns. We talked about our kids. We talked about books we've read, and the one she has written.

We went out to eat, and afterwards we went by the dojo. Although we didn't do a complete workout, we did compare our seisan kata. They are very different. When Carole was here, we did seisan together, and they were very similar, with only minor differences. Cindy's kata is way different from mine. You can tell it is the same kata, but still, it's different. It was interesting to compare and contrast them. I wish we'd had more time to go through all the kata. I still intend to film my kata and post them. One of these days, I'll get around to that.

By this time, Aaron was getting pretty tired, and they were ready to head back to Cindy's folks' house. Cody saw them off with a tune on his tuba.


All in all, it was a great visit. It was wonderful finally meeting Cindy. I look forward to our next visit.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Musings

As most of you know, former President Gerald Ford passed on a couple of days ago. I mentioned this to Cody as we were going into town because I had noticed that the flags were at half staff. We discussed briefly that when some one important dies, the flags are flown at half staff as a sign of mourning and respect. He then said, "And when you're in trouble, you fly it upside down."

This reminded me of a story I read as a child. It's about a young girl and her mother who live alone on an island, but I forget where. They don't have a telephone or radio or any form of communication other than the mail plane. Why they are living there is not explained in the story--or at least I don't remember the reason.

One day the mother hurts herself. She doesn't know what to do, as the mail plane is not due to land on their island for several more days, though he flies over daily. They had to try to think of some way to signal the pilot of the plane. The girl knew what to do, and went outside for a few minutes. She returned to the house, and together they waited for the mail plane.

A he flew over right on schedule, then they heard him circle, and come back and land. They were saved. But what did the girl to do attract this male pilot's attention? She hung the shirts on the wash line upside down. Now, tell me, what man would have noticed that? Sheesh, most women wouldn't have noticed it.

While at Wal-mart, I spent some of my Christmas money and bought the newest version of Pride and Prejudice on DVD. Sigh...Darcy...Why don't they make men like that any more?

Cindy is coming for a visit tomorrow. Yippee. I'd better get to bed so I can get up early and clean house!
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

M*A*S*H

Cody and I received a couple of seasons of the old TV show M*A*S*H on DVD for Christmas. I used to love that old show. I still enjoy watching it, but as an adult I can see the anti-war propaganda rampant throughout the show, despite the igmo on Yahoo Answers who claimed the show was "very apolitical". If he believes that, I've got some land to sell him, complete with bridge...

As a kid, I just thought it was funny; now I see it as more than just a comedy. Funny how your perceptions can change as you get older.

One thing that hasn't changed is my perception of Alan Alda. In the series, his character is portrayed as the quintessential ladies man--a real charmer, as it were. I don't understand why. I think the man is ugly. I did when I was 10, and I do even more so now.

Maybe I am just too picky...

Now, just so this post is not a total loss, I present a Walk With Me Wednesday photo:


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Stashalong

The new Stashalong starts Jan 1st, and I've been thinking about my choices. I really want to go with Choice #3, which is to choose how many WIPs* or UFOs** you want to get off the needles in the coming year. I thought this would be a good one for me since I've had such bad startitis lately. However, when I got all my WIPs out and looked at them, I discovered that I didn't really have all that many.


Then I decided that I might go with Choice #2, which is the one in which I am to count all my yarn and decide how much I want to reduce my stash by. I started trying to count all my skeins and partial skeins, and just got overwhelmed at all that yarn.


That leaves me with Choice #1, which is simply not to buy yarn for a predetermined length of time. It can be as short as one month, or as long as the whole year. This would not be all that difficult for me, since I've been on a self imposed yarn diet for a couple of years now. However, my difficulty is not in refraining from buying yarn, it's doing something with all the yarn I have already.


After much consideration, I have decided to go with a combination of #1 and #3. These are the WIPs I want to get completed:



1. Prayer Shawl:


2. Irish Hiking Scarf:


3. Wavy Lace Shawl:


4. Red Heart Strata Scarf:


5. Branching Out Lace Scarf:


6. Texas Longhorn Scarf:


7. First Time Socks:

8. Monthly dishcloths--two per month


9. Socks knitted from my Christmas yarn (two pair)


10. One screaming stash project


I will not buy any new yarn until these projects are completed. Once they are done, I will switch to #1, and pledge not to buy yarn on a month by month basis. The only exception will be if I need a specific color of yarn for a dishcloth KAL . This shouldn't happen since I am pretty much set for the entire year with my dishcloth cotton. I bought a couple of cones on clearance a while back, plus I recently bought a cone of solid ecru for the patterns that require any solid color.


Those are my Stashalong goals for 2007. Wish me luck. I get three strikes...shouldn't be a problem.


*WIP= Work In Progress

**UFO= UnFinished Object
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Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

Cody and his new bow. He can't quite pull it yet, but he'll grow into it.

This is the Peyton Manning look.


My knitting stuff: four sets of double pointed needles--three of them are bamboo and the other is Boye aluminum, two sets of circular needles, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles book, three skeins of superwash sock wool, row counters, and some Bernat Haven alpaca blend. I got other stuff, too.


Deal or No Deal DVD game. Cody loves it.

Everyone enjoying Christmas dinner. On the menu, turkey, sweet potatoes, squash casserole, orange jello salad, shrimp creole with rice, shoepeg corn casserole, and Cajun meat pies. For dessert, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, mince meat pie, and apple pie.


They say Christmas brings out the kid in all of us.


For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord.
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Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's Christmas Eve

and you know, sometimes I just can't seem to put things into words that will adequately convey what I want to say. This is one of those times. So I'll just leave you with some pictures of my day, and a few brief captions.


Presents! Gathering to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve has been a tradition in my dad's family since before I was born. This year was no exception. We met and B and J's house after church for a Christmas Eve brunch and opened presents. We did it kind of early since J is working nights. Cody and J handing out gifts.

Dennise opening her present while Brittani looks on eagerly.

"Cool", exclaims Shelbi.
"It's in my colors", says Brittani.
J was very pleased with his hunting hat. He said he'd been wanting one for a long time. I replied, "Well, you didn't ask for one until a couple of weeks ago."

How grown up my little man looks, with his flashlight/tool kit.

I got a new set of erasers, which I needed since Cody stole borrowed all of mine.

Mike got some new barbecue utensils to go with the new gas grill the girls got him.
Despite the expression, B really did like these candle holders.
Cody with his haul: Superman Returns, a flashlight/toolkit, a new sketchbook, and his own set of erasers.

My haul: some food bowls that go with my vacuum sealer, my set of erasers, and some new slipper socks--an essential item for someone like me with perpetually cold feet.
Then it was home for an afternoon of baking, a candlelight service at the church, back to B's for an evening of snacks, visiting, and reminiscing about Christmases past. We've been tracking Santa on NORAD, and I think he will need to stop and put pontoons on his sleigh before he gets here. The ground was already saturated, and it has been raining most of the afternoon. It is supposed to rain all night as well.
Well, I reckon I'd better get to bed so Santa can get here. In the words of the jolly one himself, I wish you:
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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Santa Tracker

NORAD

P.S. While you are there, go to the Things To Do page and listen to Cody's current favorite song:

Santa Wants A Tuba For Christmas

P.P.S. Another good site for the kids is Santa's Secret Village
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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Another Busy Saturday

First off, my Saturday Sky:



Beautiful blue, with just enough clouds to give it character. The best thing of all was that it cooled off a bit, finally. It was actually cold enough last night that the heater came on. It was really nice. Of course, once I started cooking, the house warmed up considerably, but it wasn't sweltering like it has been.

This little dishcloth actually took quite a bit of time to finish. It was my first attempt at garterlac knitting, and it just may be my last. It takes an awful lot of knitting to make this 8" x 8" cloth, even though it looks really cool. Yeah, I can see all my gaps and stuff, but once I start using it, those will probably close up, especially after it goes through the dryer a couple of times.

Fruitcake--the holiday bane of some, joy to others. My daddy loved fruitcake, and baking them as a family was one of our holiday traditions when I was growing up. We always made them the day after Thanksgiving instead of fighting the crowds at the stores. The fun part was mixing all the fruit, raisins, dates, and nuts with the flour. You had to do that, make sure each piece of fruit was coated with flour so that they wouldn't all clump up in the cake. In the course of the mixing, we all had to taste each different piece of fruit. I'm not sure what all they put into those little tubs of fruitcake fruit, but they sure were fun to try.

Dad, one year, got the idea that the boys should mix the fruit with the flour, while the girls made up the cake batter. I was very hurt and confused that year when he wouldn't let me mix the fruit. He just sent me into the kitchen to help with the batter. I couldn't understand what I had done wrong--why he was excluding me by not letting me help with the fruit. I didn't want to do the batter. That wasn't any fun. Doing the fruit was the fun part. I wasn't but 5 or 6, and I thought I was being punished for something. Luckily for me, my mother is not the type who likes having anyone in the kitchen with her, especially not children. She sent me back out to help dad...

He never tried that again.

After the fruit was all mixed, the batter added, and the cakes poured in to the loaf pans (funny how that recipe always managed to just fill four loaf pans), each of us four kids got some whole cherries and pecans to decorate the tops of our cakes with. We always used pecans because my Mammaw had 6 or 7 huge pecan trees in her yard, and every fall we picked up bushels of pecans.

Once they were baked came the hard part--they had to be put back to ripen for two weeks. But finally, they were ripe and we could eat them. Of course, we all had to eat them as a family. We would gather round the table with our little slice of fruitcake and glass of coke--also a treat when I was young--and eat. My younger brother Scott was the only one who didn't like fruitcake, so he usually just drank his coke.

Now I'm grown, and don't make fruitcakes any more. I did for a long time, only I moved the date I made them up to mid-November so that they would be ready as soon as the Christmas season started. That date just happens to coincide with my birthday weekend, so that was like a birthday tradition with me for a while. I stopped making fruitcakes a couple of years ago, because Cody doesn't like them, and I don't need to be eating that much all by myself.

So I switched to another old traditional family Christmas treat--fruitcake cookies:

This is my Mammaw's recipe. She made these every year, and though Cody won't eat them, I make them every year as well. Between the family get togethers on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve, they mostly get eaten up.

Now, to those who don't like fruitcake, let me say this. I couldn't understand how anyone could not like fruitcake until I was in the Navy. I was overseas and decided to buy a fruitcake that year. It was terrible. I ended up throwing most of it away. If all you've ever had is store bought fruitcake, I understand why you don't like them.

But there's nothing so Christmassy as a good old, home made fruitcake.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

After All That Trouble

Cody walked right out this morning without his cookies, five minutes after I'd told him not to forget them. Fortunately, J & B were going into town anyway, so they agreed to take them to him. That helped me out--not having to make an unplanned trip into town. I was able to get right into my do list for today:

1. Make Turkish delight
2. Make cream cheese mints
3. Make peanut butter fudge
4. Make fruitcake cookies
5. Make bread

I got everything done, except for cutting up the Turkish Delight, which has to set overnight anyway. Christmas candy making/baking is right on schedule.

After Christmas, I hope to finish cleaning out my old house and getting everything moved out of it. I was baking cookies today, when a lady banged on my door and asked me if I was planning on selling the old house. I don't think she will get it because of all the work that needs done on it, but that is three bites already and I haven't even advertised it yet.

Anyway, while I was cleaning out the old house, I found this old picture I drew when I was in high school. In my youthful zeal and ignorance (those two do seem to go together, don't they), I had it laminated in a vain attempt to protect it. The paper has really yellowed, but the drawing can still be seen:

Speaking of art, Buck posted a neat picture on his blog yesterday of ice forming on a tree. I thought the picture would look really good in black and white, so I took the liberty of grey scaling it. Hope you don't mind, Buck. I think it looks great. It has an almost spiritual quality about it.

What we have here are pictures of Cody and his two sisters:

Yes, they are twins. That is Faith in the middle and Taylor on the far right.

Now for a bit of:

Literally...

Lastly, a bit of good news--well good to me. Kim was finally able to switch the Stashalong to beta, so I can join in now! The object is to reduce your yarn stash. I was already working on this, and making progress, until my mother cleaned out her closet about a year ago and sent me her stash. Three garbage bags full of yarn. Not the little white bags either, the big black ones. And my friend Patti sent me her stash as well. Now I have a rather formidable stash, though not as big as some. There are three ways to play:

Choice 1: The original rules

(1) Choose a Stashalong time frame (1 month (minimum choice), 2 months, 3 months, etc). Personally, I would think about month to month--just in case :) Remember that during that time frame you will not buy any yarn(buying patterns, bags, and books are up to you)

(2) Choose some of your stash you would like to knit on during that time (maybe it's something you can finish, maybe it's for a gift or deadline or KAL).

(3) Post your start date and finish date. You could also include a picture of the yarn you'll be using and maybe some details about the pattern.

(4) Post your results at the end--did you finish it, did you crack and buy something, fill us in on your Stashalong victory!

(5) Have fun.

(6) Start and end anytime(within a one month minimum). You don't have to start at the beginning of a month just pick a date spanning 30 days and you're ready to roll!

Choice 2: The "Checkbook System"

Full disclosure time if you choose this option. Let us know how much you have--yes, your grand total(skeins, yards, whatever measurement works for you), let us know how much you want to get rid of, let us know how you did or when you reach your goal. (Example if you have 300 skeins, you want to get rid of 10, you ended up with 290)This choice allows you many options really. You could choose mini goals, like the example listed above, OR you could choose a long term goal like using 50% of your stash in a year. You could also decide that you can only buy as much as you use up--how's that for incentive to get stuff finished. Make it work for you.

Choice 3: The WIP/UFO Numbers Game

This one will really put you to the "get it done" test. Here's how it works:**choose how many WIP/UFOs you want to finish in an increment of 5(5, 10, 15, 20, etc.)--your minimum choice for this is 5.

**You can list specific projects if you like OR if you are like most of us you can leave a couple slots open for the "screaming stash" projects. (Example: You choose to finish 5 things. You have a sweater, a hat, a scarf on the needles, BUT while working on those you get bored so you "stash dive" and you find you have a enough stash for another sweater and a pair of socks--those are your "screaming stash" projects and they round out your required minimum for this choice. Does that make sense?)

Hmmm, what to do, what to do? I'll have to think on this one, but I'd better think fast since the new one begins Jan 1st.

Off to count skeins...

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