Wednesday, March 25, 2009


It's official. I am fried. And it's only the middle bit of my week from you-know-where.

This is my second (out of three) night of work.

I am helping to host a church function on Friday. Don't get me started on that one, because I will go on and on and on in a more or less non-stop rant, as my mom will attest. But I freely admit that it is all my own fault for being guilted into helping.

Our annual shearing day is on Saturday morning, starting at 8 am. I cannot think about the completely unprepared state of the barn. Or all the sheep coats that have giant holes in them and so are not ready to go onto freshly-sheared backs. And the rain forecast for tomorrow.*

We serve lunch to everyone who helps with the sheep shearing. This year, I have deliberately kept a lid on things, and we are only expecting about 15 people. But still. 15 people. (ETA: I have no idea how we would make it through sheep shearing without all the help they provide, so believe me, I am happy to feed them at the end of it all! It's just a matter of pulling it all together.)

We have a family get-together on Saturday evening, at my house, for my dad's 70th birthday (we can't keep it a surprise any longer, Dad -- happy pre-birthday!) My entire family will be enjoying a deluxe meal, cooked by my brothers,* and then everyone is sleeping over to keep the roads safe.

And then I have to go to work on Sunday, all day. Four high-school girls in a row. I should be well and truly catatonic by the last lucky one.

So please forgive the lack of post. I will try to take pictures on Saturday, but I've had limited success in past years because the day is So. Darn. Busy.

I'll see you on the other side.

* Wet sheep cannot be easily sheared. Let's all hope for sunshine and a breeze on Friday, because I failed to get them into the barn tonight.

** I completely missed out on the gourmand gene in my family -- I would have no problem eating cereal for dinner for the rest of my life. My brothers, knowing my limitations, have assigned me the task of getting wine, and providing the lemon sorbet and unlimited use of the kitchen. Wise men.

Monday, March 23, 2009

pearls before swine

My kids occasionally ask for -- no, make that demand, in no uncertain terms -- a particular hand-knitted item. Usually, once I produce saiditem, they complain that it is too itchy to wear or ignore it at the back of the drawer. The latter scenario has been the fate of the hand-knit socks made for Primo and Secondo.

Remember these?


The only socks I managed to complete during Summer of Socks '08 have barely seen the soles of their owner's feet. He was hard up for clean socks this morning, so he decided to wear them to school for a change from the current fad of no show white socks. (I really don't get why the boys think that the look -- or feel -- of bare ankle with jeans in winter makes sense, but it's all the rage right now.)

He came home outraged on my behalf, to his credit. The girls on his bus had said his socks were ugly, and why was he wearing them? He pointed out in no uncertain terms that his mom had made them for him, and they weren't ugly, anyway.

I'm not sure how much longer he will cop to his mom making his socks, but I am reasonably sure that they will never be worn in public again. Luckily, they might fit me -- but I plan to have a word with those little snots on the bus.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

learning curve

Remember this shawl? I finally finished it on Saturday night. Our parish priest had agreed to bless it at a church service, but it had to be complete to be blessed. As I intended to give it to the recipient on Sunday afternoon at a family function, my feet were to the proverbial fire, which is the only way I seem to be able to get things done. (Doubtless, if he had agreed to bless it unfinished, I would have been weaving in the ends just before I gave it to her. Or even more likely, she would have gotten it with the ends still hanging out and the fringe unattached.)


I learned quite a lot with this shawl.

I learned I really don't like to knit with boucle. As this blog is my witness, I will never, ever knit a sweater, or anything else for that matter, in boucle ever again.

I learned that if you use large needles to save time, you do get a drapey, lacey effect, but it is extremely hard to see if you drop a stitch. I swear I knit this shawl two times over, by the time I frogged out all my dropped stitches, so the time savings was an illusion.

I learned how to attach beads to knitting. Ten glass beads were attached on each side at the end of the shawl, so the recipient could use them as a rosary if she chose, with a single silver bead at the end, one saying "peace" and the other saying "faith."

I learned that some bead stores are more welcoming and helpful to knitters than others.

I learned how to attach fringe.

I learned how nerve-wracking it is to come within three yards of running out of yarn for a project, despite the fact that I bought an extra skein of yarn just in case.

I learned how to fix bleeding dye (I hope). This yarn made me very nervous, as it turned my fingers and needle tips blue every time I worked with it. Thanks to a tip from Margo, I used the dye fixative from Dharma Trading Company. The water was clear on the last rinse and I hope it holds!

I learned that I need to learn more about taking pictures of my finished work.

Most of all, I learned it is a very powerful thing to knit something prayerfully for someone specific. It was lovely to see it up on the altar on Sunday morning as it was blessed. It was even more wonderful to give it the person it was intended for, after all this time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

last post, I promise

I promise that this will be the last post on the color of my hallway walls, despite the fact that those posts have generated more comments and e-mails than anything else I have talked about. My kids were right all along! Whining does have its rewards!

The supportive comments about repainting were well-taken, but unfortunately, this is such a large space that it would require four gallons of paint and at least two days of painter time, plus scaffold rental fees. In other words, it is far, far cheaper for me just to learn to live with it. So I am stuck. As requested by several of you, I am posting an illustrative photo for your edification:


No doubt, some of you will love it, some of you will agree with me, some of you will think I am nuts, and most of you will be seeing entirely different colors thanks to the magic of browsers and computer screens. This is in line with the in-person reactions. People love it, people hate it. People think it has hues of gold, peach, yellow, orange, brown, tan. People think it goes with the woodwork, it doesn't go with the woodwork.

For my part, I finally figured out what was bugging me about it: it has peach undertones. Just putting a label on it helped me to calm down a little. I have no idea why this should be the case.

And now, back to the regularly-scheduled programming.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

done lambing

Well, it's pretty official. We are all done. This little guy arrived, with considerable assistance (his elbows were locked) on Tuesday morning.


A quick udder check of the remaining ewes who were exposed to the ram seems to indicate there are no more on the way. The official tally is two ram lambs and one ewe lamb, with one lamb lost. A pretty poor year, all told, but that's OK. We don't have much hay left, thanks to last spring's drought, and we just might be able to eke through until the grass comes in. We have one lamb per 4-H kid (my two, plus a friend of Primo's). And we are done with the barn checks, for the time being.

Next big sheep event: shearing! Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

the cheese stands alone

Just so all my loyal readers don't have to spend the rest of the weekend in suspense about the color of paint in my hallway, I will dash off this quick update post. First and foremost, thanks for all the thoughtful supportive comments yesterday. They were much appreciated in my hour of annoyedness.

To break the impasse we were experiencing here (because everyone else in the house loves the color and cannot appreciate my dilemma, and furthermore rolls their collective eyes in a "here we go again" sort of manner), I decided to take action by inviting other people over to get their opinion. I must admit that I stacked the deck with people who are, by blood relationship, required to take my side on all matters. Unfortunately, it did me no good. They decided to be impartial and took my LSH's side. The paint color is great, it really brightens up the house, what did I expect when the color was called "tawny bisque," yada yada yada.

In other words, I am the only person whose teeth are set on edge by this color, which I guess is an argument for leaving it as is. It certainly undermined my position that the color had to be changed right now.

In truth, most of the color clash problem could be eliminated by changing the living room wallpaper. And therein lies the home decorating rub. You fix one thing... and then the rest of it looks terrible and needs to be fixed, and you have unleashed an avalanche of work and decisions. Blech. From now on, I will just live with the color of drywall on my walls.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

top ten list

... of things that are annoying the living daylights out of me right now. You might want to skip over this whiny self-indulgence and come back in a few days. If I don't get these things out of me right now, however, I might just explode in a million little pieces all over the newly-painted walls.

10. The painters. They are doing a very good job and working at a good pace, but I have decided that I am a pretty introverted person, and I need my personal space. Plus if they insist ONE MORE TIME that a high gloss finish on the natural colored woodwork is "more better" than the satin finish we have chosen, I will not be responsible for my actions.

9. Living at sixes and sevens. The tsunami of displaced junk in my house is threatening to drown me.

8. My teenage son, who is at his snarky, nastiest worst right now as those hormones rage.

7. The constant litany of "what ifs" with respect to the lamb we lost on Thursday night. What if we had gotten there 10 minutes earlier? What if we had realized she was in labor? What if I had gone out to turn off the heat lamp at 7 pm as I meant to? This list is crazy-making.

6. Having to tutor smack in the middle of the day today, so that my teenage student can sleep in.

5. Finding out that the puppy badly mauled the bottom rung of one of our kitchen chairs, and even worse, knowing it was all my fault because I was the one who gave him the run of the kitchen, not having learned my lesson from the previous maulings of the kitchen cabinet corners.

4. The color of the paint in the hallway. I hate painting because I hate picking out paint colors. Invariably we end up with a color that looks nothing like the paint chip, and I spend months obsessing about how much I hate it. Last time, we picked out the exact color of drywall, but lived with it for seven years. This year we picked out a color that, while warm and inviting, manages to clash with just about every other room in our house in a horrendous tangerine orange sort of way. It is even worse knowing it is all my fault because I stupidly failed to just hold the paint chip up to the walls in the various rooms to see if it went.

3. The color of the paint in the hallway.

2. The color of the paint in the hallway. (I am not just using up slots on my list; it really is bugging me that much.)

And the number one thing that is annoying me right now:

1. My complete and total inability to cope in a gracious and zen-like manner with all of the above. Yep, that's right: I am annoying the crap out of myself.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

sometimes it just stinks

One day you have healthy lambs. Two days later, you have a stillborn lamb, with nothing wrong that you can see, and a first-time mama trying desperately to clean her lamb off and confused that the lamb isn't moving. Our 3 pm barn check didn't reveal that she was in labor. By 8:30 pm she had lambed but something went wrong in the process. Add this to the fact that it is Primo's ewe, and of course the baby was a ewe and a single, and we have a lot of upset and heartache here. I'm going to bed now but I don't think I'll be getting much sleep.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

at last

In my dream last night, there were two white lambs waiting for me in the barn. Charlie the grumpy old dog woke me up at 5 am, an hour earlier than usual, and I decided I had better not ignore the signs. Good thing, too, because guess what was waiting for me in the barn?


A ram and a ewe! (Before you go asking me to predict the future, I should confess that my dream wasn't really that prescient. The ewe was due today (based on the date she was marked), she almost always has twins, and both parents are white.)

Clover is a good mom, and she had done a great job in getting the lambs up and cleaned off. I estimate the lambs were born less than an hour before I got there, but the umbilical cords were already frozen solid (making it tough for me to get them clipped off), the tips of their ears and tails and backs of their legs were covered in ice, and they were both shivering. The little ewe had to come in under the bathroom heat lamp* for a little while to deice, but once she was dry she was taken back out to mom for more milk.


The rhododendron sympathizes with her.


I have finally defrosted as well, and I am wearing my sheepy best to celebrate the arrival of the first (and possibly last? we're still not sure) lambs of the season.


(Sweater was made by my mom, using the Fiber Trend's Sheep Go Round pattern. Photo method was swiped from Crazy Aunt Purl, but she does a much better job with it.)

* Just in case you think that is a people bathroom towel she is standing on, let me reassure you that it is one of our extensive collection of barn towels. I must admit, however, that my MIL generously gave me her towel cast-offs for the barn a few years ago, but her cast-offs were much better than the ones we used every day. We ended up keeping her towels in the house and sending ours to the barn.

Monday, March 2, 2009



Not THOSE snowflakes, though we certainly have plenty around this morning.

The title refers to the state of my efforts to knit a pair of anything lately. No two are alike! Take the socks I started during the Summer of Socks '09. When I went back to finish the toe on the second sock, a quick comparison revealed a big difference between the two:


The top toe was knit during our vacation, during which I presumably should have been relaxed. I had to rip out the second toe and knit as tightly as I could to even come close to the dimensions of the first one.


The finished (finally!) socks show a big difference as well. I don't want to wish a set of non-matching calves on anyone, especially my mom, but clearly she will be more comfortable if they are slightly different dimensions.

I had the same problem with a pair of mittens I just made for Terzo. (As an aside: I can't even explain the amount of pleasure it gave me when he announced that he needed a new hat and mittens, and then asked me in the next breath when we could go to the yarn store so he could select what he wanted. The color is all him. He wandered the store until he found what he considered to be the perfect shade of orange, and the yarn, Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, was a dream to work with.)


I made these mittens back to back, in the space of one week. I counted and counted the rows and decreases to make sure they matched. Thank goodness it doesn't seem to bother him. Although he has complained bitterly that the hat is itchy (just after he pronounced it "perfect"), he has yet to complain that one mitten is a different size than the other.