Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Tribute And A Giveaway

The Yarn Harlot just wrote a post announcing that it is her 11th blogiversary, and I swear I got all choked up by it.  You see - by coincidence - last night, when I could find nothing new to read, I picked up my old (autographed!) copy of Knitting Rules. And I recognized - as I started to go through this lighthearted book about knitting and the, uh, knitting lifestyle, as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee so succinctly puts it - how that book has changed my life since I first read it a little over 7 years ago.

You know, I can't think of many other books that have done that.  Oh, sure, many have enhanced my life, made it better or more enjoyable.  But this unassuming little book - all about yarn stashes and other knitterly foibles -has effected actual changes in how I live.

A knitting book.  I know.  Not exactly highbrow, but still...it made me realize I could be creative even if I did leave projects unfinished or else produced knitted objects of questionable quality. It gave me the courage to knit my first pair of socks, following Stephanie's famous Sock Recipe, despite the fact that I didn’t even know what the heck DPN’s were (double-pointed needles, for you knitting ignoramuses), let alone how to use them. A little over 7 years later, here I sit, with a drawer full of homemade socks.  Me!

You need these to make socks. Honest.

I knit all the time now, but particularly while I help my kids with their schoolwork - you see, the knitting keeps me from totally losing it while teaching Algebra for the FOURTH TIME.  I learned that lesson from Knitting Rules, also: knitting isn't for patient people, knitting is for keeping impatient people from killing anyone.

The original kid whose schoolwork I knitted through? He is all grown up now, Theo is, and an Army officer to boot. His sister Anna is all grown up now, too, living on her own, working and going to college.  My yarn hasn't left me, though.  My yarn loves me.

And I still have 2 young-ish girls at home who, thanks to what I have learned from Stephanie, have grown up with permission to over-buy yarn (well, using coupons at Michaels), roll around in it if they like, and knit a multitude of projects without finishing most of them. Probably the one person who does not understand the Yarn Harlot's impact on our family is Larry, but that is only because he still hasn’t figured out that that second dresser of mine - the one I commandeered when Anna moved out - is filled with yarn, not clothes.
To top it all off, when I met Stephanie in person, way back in April 2008, she said, "You're SuburbanCorrespondent? You are so funny!"  No matter if she meant it or was just being kind, I lived off that compliment for a year. As most writers know, what we really want (aside from maybe being paid occasionally) is to connect. Connecting is what Stephanie has done over the past 11 years with her blog and her books, creating an awesome community of knitters (and maybe some crocheters, stranger things have happened), and many of us are the richer for it.

So thank you, Stephanie, for your time and your wit and your wisdom - you've made a difference in people's lives. Really. Let's just hope Larry doesn't open that dresser, okay?

So! Is anyone interested in a free book?  In honor of the Yarn Harlot's 11th Blogiversary, I will send a copy of Knitting Rules (Lifechanging! Really!) to one lucky winner.  Just let me know in the comments below if you are interested (make sure I have your email address!) and I will pick a name on, oh, Tuesday, I guess.  Or Wednesday.  Or whenever I remember...


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Friday, January 23, 2015

Anne Frank's Electrician

Today? Oh, I'm just still sitting around feeling relieved that I'm not in charge of feeding 100 homeless people tonight.  And you?

Also, I'm waiting for the electrician.  I have no idea what this guy thinks of us, by this point.  Due to Larry's insulation-installation hobby, once or twice a year, we invite our electrician to visit a gutted room in our home and install more electrical outlets.  It looks almost...I don't know...sinister, really.  Maybe he thinks we're building false walls to hide kidnapped people behind.  And the outlets would be for, um, I don't know...their Wi-fi?

No, that doesn't make sense.

Maybe he thinks we're planning to hide Jews from a newly resurgent Gestapo.  I'm Jewish, after all, and every Jewish person in my generation was raised to make plans to do an Anne Frank, if need be. Seriously.  We had games in Hebrew School during which we would discuss who would live where if every Jew we knew were to be confined to a few square blocks near our homes, a la the Warsaw Ghetto.  Because, like, that happens a lot...

Something tells me that you happy unpersecuted Christians never did that in Sunday School.  You were too busy singing about how Jesus loves you to worry about having to hide behind a bookcase, am I right?

When Apple introduced its IBooks app?  I immediately thought of this.


I mean, c'mon - the way it swings around to reveal the IBooks store?

How the heck did I get on this topic anyway?  Oh, yes, the electrician.  I don't know what he is thinking, but he does keep coming back.  And he hasn't reported us to the police.  Yet.  So that's good, right?

But I'll bet Anne Frank's electrician never suspected anything either...

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dial-A-Jew

So, that thing where Larry is using my dining room table as a workbench?  It's still happening.

Not quite what I envisioned when I bought this table from a friend...

But, hey, he's got the insulation up.  We just have to wait until Friday for the electrician to install some extra electrical outlets, and then we can finish the drywall.

"We" - as if I am going anywhere NEAR this crazy project.  No, I am just sitting in our little den (into which we have had to squeeze an extra couch and armchair) and knitting away.  You know, pretending none of it is happening. Denial is my default mode, so far as chaos is concerned.

You know, I just realized that the table that's usually in the den - a lovely maple dropleaf given to me by a neighbor - is missing.  I have no idea where Larry put it when he rearranged (to put it mildly) our house. Where does one hide something that large?

Never mind - it's probably under another pile of tools and drop cloths somewhere...

Someone I don't know called me from our church today, explaining that the woman who runs the youth ministry has been very sick; and she just informed him (from her hospital bed) that the youth group is supposed to be bringing food and volunteering at a hypothermia shelter this Friday.  As in 2 DAYS from now.  Only she was never able to get around to arranging anything - no food, no volunteers, nothing.  He said she gave him my name to call for help.

I can only surmise that when push comes to shove and you need someone to handle the food, you look for the Jewish person.

Anyway, being a sucker for organizing large amounts of food for large groups of people (see above, re Jewish person), I volunteered to make this thing happen. "We can do it," I told the overwhelmed person at the other end of the phone line. "All we need is Signup Genius and a really good email contact list."  I could sort of feel the adrenaline surging as I said this, much like I imagine an Olympic athlete feels right before a big event.

Apparently, my sport is catering.

I felt like this, only with less muscle definition.

Luckily, saner heads (HIS head, actually) prevailed: he called the church hosting the shelter and explained our predicament and they said not to worry about it, they could handle it themselves. Which, in my case, is a total win: he thinks I am wonderful (if insane) for offering to make this thing work with only 48 hours notice, but I end up having to do NOT ONE THING.

I think I could have pulled it off, though.  SignUp Genius is pretty awesome.



[Start line image: BlackDoctor]




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Monday, January 19, 2015

Photographic Evidence

I promised.  Pictures, people, pictures - I have photographic proof that Larry is a madman, taking a perfectly good house and ripping it to shreds.  I give you Exhibit A:


The living room pictured above used to be habitable.  Note the new look of distressed cinder block and hanging wires.  Looks like a good place to brew meth, right?

And Exhibit B:


Dining room - formerly known as a pleasant place to gather for meals or a game of cards, or occasionally as a good spot to take out my sewing machine and swear while attempting to sew on Scout patches. No more, my friends! Larry's design scheme of stacked insulation and attractively draped plastic tarps cleverly precludes any social or creative events from taking place in this area.  Have I mentioned he does not enjoy playing card games?

Here's Exhibit C, for good measure:



An erstwhile cozy nook in our living room, wherein resided an overstuffed Ektorp armchair with matching ottoman.  It is now a staging ground for all Larry's tools and other implements of destruction, apparently in a passive-aggressive effort to campaign for an honest-to-God workshop. Oh, wow, is that my beloved IKEA dining room table being used as a workbench?  Lovely.

This, fair readers, is what I signed up for, lo, many years ago, when I said "I do."  For better, for worse, for home reconstruction mania?  I must have missed that last phrase.  Or maybe I felt that love could conquer all.  Who knows?  I was but a wee lass of 28 when I uttered those words.  What did I know of drywall or insulation or even baseboards at that age?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing.  There should be premarital counseling for this sort of thing, don't you think?

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Wherein Larry Invents A New Lung Disease

I would LOVE to blog at you tonight, but Larry has resumed practicing his hobby of tearing out our walls, and this time the living room was his victim.  Meaning, the entire main floor of the house smells carcinogenic due to whatever nasty stuff he was using to seal all the cracks in the cinder blocks that were under the dry wall he ripped off today.  We even opened all the windows for a couple of hours to try to air the place out, but the air still smells poisonous in here.  So I am going to escape to our (hopefully) smell-free upper level and try to pretend that our house doesn't look vandalized and somewhat haunted.

Also?  It's my bedtime.  I'm trying to stick to my January resolution here.  I'll be back tomorrow with pics of the devastation, I promise.

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