Monday, April 30, 2007

Searching . . . .

Anybody have a copy of Meg Swanson's A Gathering of Lace? My local library doesn't have it, nor does my mother's local library. I do see that the Amazon price is pretty reasonable though. And I have a gift-giving occasion coming up.

Is the opposite of ennui off-wee?

I'm wanting to broaden my chocolate horizons. As an American, I've grown up on Hershey's, which I happen to love. I few years ago I heard this book reviewed on NPR. I remember something about Milton Hershey developing a chocolate recipe that was definitely American, different from anything that was being produced in Europe. And he succeeded, because Hershey's chocolate is unique. But I want to know more.

In my quest so far, I've tried Sam's Choice Belgian Chocolate with chopped almonds. 7 oz/200 g bar, for under $1.50. Great price, but the almonds are indeed chopped, and chopped very small. I like large almond pieces. I didn't like the chocolate at all either. Too smooth, no bite to it. One of the reasons I love Hershey's is that it has a bite to it, and it lets me know when I've had enough. It's hard to explain, but I know what I'm talking about!

I've also acquired Cadbury's Roasted Almond. 4 oz/113 g, about the same price as the other. Much better flavour though. The almonds are bigger, the score lines on the large bar are smaller, and it is smooth, but still has bite.

So what else shall I try? Obviously I like almonds, but I also like hazelnuts. I'm not opposed to shopping at the dollar store, because I have found some very intersting confections there on occasion. I'm not so big on dark chocolate, I prefer milk chocolate. When I lived overseas, our chocolate was imported from Australia. It was quite different, but not bad. They had a bar called Club, made by Hershey's, that was much darker than the Special Dark that we get here. I brought some back for my dad because he likes Special Dark, but he said the Club was too dark for him.

I'm not necessarily a chocolate snob, I just want to experience as much chocolate as I can!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fly-by Post

Big huge SCA event yesterday, a few photos, a very nice story. Not right this minute, though.

Remember this? I found the pattern for it here. I don't live in Great Britain, but I'm going to knit one anyway!

The general website seems to be

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Family Visit

So it's getting to be springtime in the mountains, which means it's time for my grandmother to spend the next few months in her own house. After my uncle died last February, it was decided that she should stay the autumn with my mother in Rexburg, and the winter with my other uncle in Salt Lake City. In the summer she goes home and does her own thing.

My parents went down to SLC this past weekend to fetch her. I met them in Riverside last Friday, for a little while. They brought me milk from my favourite dairy, and we had lunch and ice cream. My dad was in fine form and we proceeded to have a Clark Family Laughing Moment. You know those kind -- you laugh so hard over something so incredibly inane that your stomach hurts? Remind me to tell you sometime about the belt buckle that says "Maybe".

Monday they left SLC and stopped in Layton to visit their other daughter. Tuesday they came up to see us. I got off work a few minutes early and went home to make dessert. They had just barely hit town, and came over shortly thereafter. As soon as he walked in, my dad grabbed the remote and turned the TV to ch 529, which is the western channel. He watched Gene Autry and Bat Masterson and Big Valley. I showed off my spinning wheel, and some of the yarn I've already spun and plied. My dad likes to see how things work so he was hanging over my shoulder, poking this and yanking that. DD was an hour late getting home from school, which caused me some worry. I checked the bus schedules, and determined that if she wasn't on the 4:36 bus then I'd have to go out looking for her. Luckily for her, she turned up. So we all sat down and had supper. Then my grandmother decided she wanted to go and lay down, as she wasn't feeling well. But she wanted to watch American Idol, so I set up the DVR to record it so that she could watch it when she got up.

We sat around and watched other things I'd recorded that I thought they might like. They get three channels at home (when the wind blows the right way) and I really don't have much exciting going on around my house. Only one kid, and she's not a baby anymore. Boring job, although sometimes I do have a funny story to tell.

After awhile my grandmother got up and wanted to watch her program. She doesn't like the "screechy girls" so we were able to fast-forward through those parts. My grandmother is 94 years old, about 4 foot 11, and full of opinions! When it was all over, my dad took "the girls" back to the hotel, and he came back and slept on my couch. As my granny was going out the door, she gave me a hug and said, "Don't worry, it wasn't your cooking that made me sick. I was already sick from this morning!" She is so funny sometimes, but I can tell she just isn't herself since my uncle died.

On to a happier bit of news: I got a new washer tonight! I had mentioned to my old home-teacher's wife that mine had died. She mentioned it to him, he called me up last week. I confirmed I was still in need, so he went to work, trying to locate one. He called the High Priest Group Leader, who knew that a family had just moved out of their house into a new place that had a nicer washer/dryer and so their old one was available. He was about to go on vacation, but before he went, he fetched it over and left it in his driveway. So he called me tonight, and I rounded up my neighbour, and we got it installed! I also found three socks behind the old one, so that's a small mystery solved. I am really grateful for my Home Teacher. If anyone out there doubts the need to do your Home/Visiting Teaching, I just want to say that when you have few resources, having that contact is very important.

And I bought my plane tickets for Chicago. By very happy coincidence, I will be there the week of MCM's birthday. His headstone is up, and his condo is on the market. We have already planned lots of places to go and see, and things to do. Of course I have to hit at least one yarn shop. I don't think the socks I knit for him will ever be found, but at least I can buy some sock yarn from there. It's kinda the same. The Idaho state quarter *should* be out by then. He was buried with four quarters in his pocket, because he always carried them, but I want to leave an Idaho quarter with him too. I still miss him so much. Sometimes I dream that he is still here. I won't erase my answering machine because it's filled up with his messages. Some are from before I moved here, before he got sick, when his voice was still strong. I feel him watching over me. I'm still glad that the last thing he heard me say was "I love you".

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Need a Nap

I seriously need a nap, for like about six months. I've had my med switched to Lexapro, and it's been seven weeks now. I had it switched because I was taking three-hour naps every day with the Celexa. I don't know about you, but I just don't have three extra hours per day to spend unconscious. I also switched the time of day I take it to afternoon, instead of morning. But it's very helpful if I can have a one-hour nap soon after I take it. I don't have to have the nap, but I find I can finish the day in a much more human manner than if I don't have the nap. However . . . . . .

The constant nightmares I can live without. I am setting multiple alarm clocks, and asking friends in different time zones to ring me when they are just up in the morning, or about to go to bed. They don't have to sit and have a conversation with me, I just need to Wake Up And End The Dream. They are getting horrendous. I am sleeping just fine. I can fall asleep easily, and I can go back to sleep easily if wakened. That in itself is a huge accomplishment, but I would really like to not be having the nightmares.

And we are currently living a waking nightmare as well. Friday there was no school. So the DD went to stay the weekend with some friends who are also in the SCA with us. She really likes hanging out with this particular family because they are a mixed-race family and she feels that since she looks like their children that she fits in. They all spent the day up on the campus of USU doing some SCA exhibition-type things. While I was out running errands and such, I got a phone call from the assistant principal at the school. Oh you're just going to love this: DD is being threatened with another day of suspension, because she handed in an assignment that is a "red-flag". I am going in tomorrow after work to sit down and have a talk with this woman and ask why exactly my child is to be punished for filling out a "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up" worksheet with a possible job of state executioner. My first response was to laugh, because I know my kid. She most likely was pressed for time and didn't have a fourth thing to put down. The first three things she chose were Coroner (she has talked about this one pretty much all school year, so no surprise), Movie Critic (my brother is an amateur director and has also done movie reviews for the local TV station), and Pediatrician. As far as I know at this time, this was a worksheet given at the beginning of class, to be turned in at the end of class. This was before the events at Virginia Tech.

I asked the assistant principal to read me the entire assignment. As she was reading, her voice disappeared and I could totally hear my daughter as if she were reading it. This child is wicked-smart, and gets bored very easily. I can totally see her trying to make such a boring assignment a bit more intersting for herself, by doing at least part of it totally tongue-in-cheek. She said she didn't want to be a Pediatrician, because she doesn't like small children. I know for a fact that isn't true, because ever since she was a 2-year-old in daycare she has loved helping out with the smaller children and babies. She just volunteered to babysit for Homemaking Meeting, and she is very compassionate towards all little ones. If she doesn't want to be a Pediatrician, it's not because she doesn't like small children.

And as for the State Executioner job, blame it on NPR. My car radio is never tuned to anything except the local public radio station. When we are on the road, I know exactly where one station drops out and where the next one comes in, and what time All Things Considered comes on. So a few weeks ago we were driving around town. A story came on, saying that a prisoner on death row in California has had his execution delayed indefinitely because authorities are having trouble finding a medical professional willing to do the lethal injection. Go listen, I'll wait. See you in 5. I thought it was an interesting story, but didn't think much about it after we got home. But obviously it was on her mind for much longer.

Well, this assistant principal was telling me that DD's assignment was unacceptable, and she was to be suspended for another day because of it. And that's where Mama Bear got a bit agitated. I asked the woman to cite the rule that was broken. She stated it was in the Student Handbook. "Oh, you mean one of those stacks of papers and things that students receive the first day of school and promptly file either in the trashcan or the bottom of their locker? THAT school handbook?" Can I tell you, I searched the district website for an hour before I even found anything that could possiblly be called a Student Handbook. And it's written in extremely vague language. From what I can gather, "Zero Tolerance" also means "Zero Common-Sense". I can see that if a student were to write about any war in human history, they could be disciplined. No, it doesn't come right out and SAY that, but you could certainly twist the words into whatever meaning you wanted. And Heaven protect the kindergarten child who draws a family portrait and includes Daddy over in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Now before someone freaks out at me, let me state that I think weapons at school are not a good idea. But this whole Zero Tolerance thing has gotten to the point where it's an exercise in ridiculousness. Ridiculosity, even. I know we are all on edge because of what happened last week in Virginia. And by unhappy coincidence (or maybe not, I haven't heard) it's also the anniversary of Columbine, and of Waco and Oklahoma City. But for Pete's sake, let's not forget what the real goal is here. Some people are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I am afraid that a silly worksheet, filled out in a sarcastic manner is going to cause my extremely intelligent and very talented kid to hate school and decide she doesn't want to do what it takes to be a coroner. Or whatever she decides next week that she wants to be. It used to be Egyptologist, then it switched to NASA scientist.

So then I asked if the teacher had given any guidelines at all as to what would not be acceptable. Very long pause, then "Noooooooooooooooo . . . . . . " So if nobody was explicitly told what they could not write about, then it seems that perhaps this allegation is unfounded. And when I called up my Dear Daughter and told her what had happened, she began crying. She was mortified that her meaning had been taken so horribly the wrong way, she had totally not meant it to sound threatening or sociopathic in any way. In her mind, she was trying out what we know as sarcasm, and it was taken seriously. She is upset at herself, and at the teacher and assistant principal. Why is it that her rights seem to have been ignored in all this? Her words were not directed at anyone at all. It was definitely unwise to say "I'd like to be a State Executioner because I could legally kill somebody and not be punished for it." But be honest: haven't we all thought something along those lines once in our lives? It doesn't mean that we really meant it, or that we would ever take the steps to actually do it. And what twelve-year-old child knows as much as an adult?

Sorry for venting at you all, but I had to say it before I go in tomorrow and see what we can do about this. If I have my say now, I'm much less likely to emote all over everyone at the school. My going in there and freaking out is not going to help my kid. Did I say I was tired? How about on-beyond-zebra exhausted!

I was informed this morning that my presence at the school today was not needed, and DD would not be suspended. I suppose I'll get more info in an hour when she comes home. I also called my doctor, but she is out for a week, so I spoke to one of the other doctors there, who wants me to go back on the Celexa, and then I have an appointment with my doctor on May 4. Since I have seizures, so many anti-depressants are contraindicated. Since I am kind of known for making things harder than they have to be, it may very well be decided that I'll do best on Prozac! I don't really care what it is that I'm taking, so long as it does what it needs to do, and doesn't do what it's not supposed to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My New Toy

What's in the box? Newspapers in Polish? Parts and pieces? Pink paint?

It's my new wheel! Look how pretty, look how pink. Am I excited? Oh yeah!

So for those who would like to know the specs, it's a Kromski Prelude. I had thought long and hard about what wheel I wanted to get. For a long time I thought the Kromski Minstrel was it. But here are the reasons I chose the Prelude: it weighs nine pounds, it was the least expensive wooden wheel I could find, it has single-treadle, and like all Kromski wheels I could get it unfinished and do the finish myself. I'd have preferred to find a double-drive/single-treadle castle wheel under $500. Schacht makes one, but it's too much money and too heavy for now. But I love my wheel. I took it to SCA the other night where it was quite the attraction.

I took a long time to choose the paint colour, too. I have always loved pink in all shades, but as I've grown older I find I am more attracted to the salmon-y shades rather than the purply shades. Of course, any pink is better than no pink.

Tonight is the quarterly Gallery Walk in town. We shall be at our usual place in the foyer of the Emporium. And next week of course is our bi-monthly Spinner's/Knitter's Night at the same location. I cannot wait to see what people say about my beautiful pink wheel. I am having so much fun with it, mostly because it is MINE! I can fiddle with all the knobs without worrying that I'm going to break something or goof up somebody else's settings. I can learn exactly what happens when I tighten this or loosen that. I am practicing getting it right with a huge lot of black lambswool that I bought quite some time ago. I love spinning lambswool because it loves to be spun fine, but it can also take being spun thick. When I am all done, I'll have two pounds, plied. That's enough for a sweater. It's not actually black black, but very very dark chocolate brown. Think of the darkest chocolate you've ever seen. I might see if I can overdye it with some hot pink to see if it will pick up any colour. It might turn into a warm black.

Oh, and to the wonderful reader who sent me three skeins of STR in various shades of pinks: I've finally decided on a project. I am going to make a circular shawl. So far the plan is to start with one skein and just go go go until I run out, then go to the next skein and repeat. I've got over 1000 yards and I do believe that is enough. I cannot bear to waste any of this beautiful yarn!

~~Confidential to RP~~
Regarding your post labelled "Reunited", I am so happy for you both! I think it will be a good thing.

Love you all!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

I wish I could acually have a relaxing vacation, but I never do. I always wind up trying to do a ton of stuff with never enough time, and plans going awry at all possible times. But this time, it was actually pretty good. We had a great time, not too much stress or freaking-out. Except for the fact that I was pulled over by ISP a bit north of Blackfoot. Have I mentioned how much cops scare me? Well they do. In Logan, you can (and do) get pulled over for a burned-out license-plate light. You can also get arrested for same. One of my absolute biggest fears is to literally rot in the county jail because nobody knows I'm there and I'm too bloody poor to make bail. But the ISP officer merely wanted to know why my license plate wasn't bolted to the front of my car. I pointed out my plate hanging out on my dashboard, in full view of anyone, had he cared to make a cursory examination, and informed him that the holes in the license plate do not match the mounting holes on my car. My prior license plate (same number, but to get more money out of Idaho drivers, they make you replace your plates every seven years whether you need to or not) did have matching holes because I had asked one of the guys I worked with at the cabinet shop to drill me some extra holes. I never bothered to actually attach the plate, but I conveniently left out that part of the story. I'm not stupid! He let me go, told me to get it attached ASAP. I've owned this car 3 years and this is the first time I've been stopped for not having my front plate actually attached to the car. Hmmmm. So we arrived in Rexburg about 45 minutes later and continued with our evening.

As soon as we walked in the house, my mom shoved an envelope at me. Inside was the new tags for my license plate. That was one of the things I needed to get done this weekend, and she had already done it. I love presents, but simple acts of service mean so much to me. I'm really grateful for her doing that, because that was one less thing I had to get done on Friday. The second thing I did when I got home was call my friend JN. She was one of my walking buddies when I lived in Rexburg. I called her up and asked if she wanted to go for a walk. She very cautiously asked me, "Where are you?" I said, "Down the road a piece." She laughed and we went walking at 7:30. We used to do three miles around the park, but it had been a very long time since I had walked, plus it was getting dark and cold, so we only went 1.5 miles.

Friday, DD and I both had dental appointments. We have to go back in May. I need a filling, they are watching a possibly nerve-damaged tooth of hers. A funny coincidence: while in the waiting room, I saw my friend KM's daughter. I asked if her mom was in the back, she said yes. So when KM was done and came out, we had a quick chat and she went on with the rest of her day. As she is another of my walking buddies, we made a date to go walking about 5pm. As it happened, her day went to hell so we didn't go. Her life is always full of family-induced Drama, none of which she brings upon herself. Went to the bank to talk to them, went and got my driver's license renewed. The DMV does not take credit/debit cards, only cash/check. Bizarre. After that, I took DD out to MB's for another haircut. As it was sunny and breezy, we went outside so nobody would have to sweep the kitchen floor. Since everything was already out, I asked for a trim too. Just tiny bits were removed, but it vastly improved what my hair does, so I am happy! Came back to town and ran more errands, then waited for my brother and his entourage to show up for dinner. My nephew will be 5 in July, and he is so incredibly cute and funny. I had found him a Squidward over-the-door hook at the dollar store, and I took a chance that he would like it. He loves "PongeBob ParePants" but there was only Squidward. I needn't have worried; he loved it. He carried it around with him all evening. I took my Lexapro at 6pm, and promptly at 9 I went to bed. I just disappeared and nobody knew where I had gone. The meds do that to me. I just have this overwhelming urge to sleep and it's no good to try to fight it. I woke at 1am, used the "little room" and went back to bed.

I slept until 8am, but woke with a horrible shooting pain in my back. I tried all sorts of things to make it feel better: ibuprofen, hot shower, a Nikken magnet (courtesy of my mom), BioFreeze. Nothing worked. I was in huge amounts of pain the whole entire day. But I went about my business anyway. I went to the library and got some knitting books, and a few others. Ran a few more errands. Another walking buddy BF called and said she would come by the house about 3pm. I had planned my day so that I would be home at 3pm, but she called me at 2:40 and said she was at the house already. I finished picking up milk and getting gas, and arrived home at 3 on the dot! We had a good visit, as we always do. Then it was egg-dyeing time! Three dozen eggs later, we cleaned up and finished fixing dinner. My mom had made my favourite thing: beef roast with smashed potatoes and gravy, and baby carrots. Actually, I was the one who made the potatoes. In my best Richard Nixon voice: "I'm not a cook." But I can make really really good smashed potatoes. As you can see, I don't allow pain to intrude on my daily routine, but I actually cried a couple of times. I am quite accustomed to fairly severe daily pain, but I don't do so well with spasms. I actually had to ask my mom to help me get my pajamas on so I could go to bed. She found a Nikken mattress pad and put it on the bed. I also took 4 ibuprofen right before I went to bed. I slept better, and woke up this morning a bit stiff in that area, but with much less pain. Not sure if it was the mattress pad, the ibuprofen, the rest, the BioFreeze, or a combination.

This morning we went to church. 1st Ward was split about six months ago, and I had forgotten that they had changed meeting times with the new year. So we went at 8:45am to go to church. I walked in and didn't recognize anybody in Relief Society, except the lady playing the piano. I sat down anyway, and saw three other ladies I knew. Apparently we attended 8th Ward on accident! But it was okay anyway. Next month I want to go to 1st Ward though. I know more people there. Got on the road at 4pm, but stopped to take a few photos. Stopped twice on the road, and made a detour in town to drop off library books. Arrived home at 7:15 pm. Whew!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Some More FO's

Wow it's been awhile. Sorry about that, but I've been busy with work and other extra-curricular activities. Want a run-down? Well, there's been a few FOs.

A second Moebius, made with vintage pink Phildar's Oxygene with purple Phildar kid mohair border. Short socks made from Universal's Ditto in purple stripe (love this yarn!) First Cousin socks (so-named because they aren't exactly fraternal twins) made from Opal Rodeo scraps. Close-up of toes, which I tried to use the reinforcing slip-stitch usually used on heel flaps. It's hard to see in the photo, but I'll let you know how they wear. Finally, a pair of short socks in Ditto's green stripes, for my boss. She likes green and purple, so I used the scraps from my own socks to do her toes. She loves them! Not pictured is another pair of short shocks, in Brown Sheep's WildFoote in the Elderberry colour-way. I am still using the Magic Loop method for socks, but I've modified it a bit by using DPNs while I'm decreasing on the heel gusset. It seems to eliminate stitch markers and missed decreases.

But lest you think that all I've been doing is knitting, let me set you straight. On Friday, my friend MiWi came by and we took down and put away my Christmas tree. She was absolutely horrified when she walked in and saw it still up on March 30. Well, I have a beautiful tree. It's white, with gold-painted seashells all over it. Unfortunately, no photos. But I do the same tree every year so I'll try to remember to take a photo next year. After we took the tree down, we needed some place to put the boxes, so we cleaned out my Harry Potter cupboard. MiWi is an organizer extraordinaire, and she was able to consolidate a lot of my *stuff* so that I had fewer boxes to deal with. She also helped me decide where to put my new bookshelf, and I've been filling it up with magazines that out-grew their other bookshelf.

Thursday, DD had a band concert. She did very very well, and she got TWO bouquets of flowers for her excellent performance. You may notice that she has gotten a haircut. She went up to Rexburg last weekend and MB cut her bangs. Also, she got a new hairwrap a few weeks at Nana's. Nana is teaching Panda how to do hairwraps, and so this was Panda's first real subject. And her court date for her school fight is this Tuesday. I cannot wait to blow this town.

And Messiah is over for 2007. Saturday's Logan performace was the best. We were spot-on, the audience was receptive, and we did the Hallelujah Chorus as an encore. The final performance in Ogden was filmed, and the DVDs will be available soon. You can go to the website linked two posts ago and order a DVD if you are so inclined.

Well, today is General Conference (or TV Church, as Mark always called it) and so I am going to make the bed and put on some pajama pants (I have a song about pajama pants) and hang out on the couch and knit during Conference. DD stayed the night at Tamar and Jamukha's place, so I'll have to go fetch her at lunchtime in between sessions. She needs to come home and sort her laundry so we can go to the laundromat tomorrow for Family Home Evening. Anybody need a Home Teaching project? I desperately need my washer to work. Love you all!