Friday, August 29, 2008

Old Habits

I sat down to finish the Boho Baby Soaker for Apple Yarns yesterday.

I got comfy, and began working the k1p1 ribbing on the last leg cuff. As I stitched away, noticing the familiar sounds of the kids playing quietly in the next room, a soft contentment came over me. I looked up . . .

and realized something wasn't quite right. {Ahem . . . who has been complaining about the lack of furniture in her life for the last few years?}

That's better. And after a 45-second tidy, I got to knit in a lovely living room. (That first sofa shot was for you, Shan. ;o)

And a few minutes later, I had happy company. Even better. ;o)

And no worries, Mom. I'll post photos of the kids now that I have the computer set up for it. And if I'm not posting enough of them fast enough, just leave a comment and let me know. (Comments have great power over bloggers.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Long-Awaited Story

How We Got to Oregon
by Annalea

So, waaaaaaaay back at the end of April, we accepted an offer on our house in Idaho. The terms were perfect . . . really, just what we had been praying for. The buyer wasn't in any hurry to close, so the closing date was set for six weeks out. We would then rent from the seller for an additional six weeks, giving me at least a month postpartum before the move.

The time passed as those blurry days before childbirth and moving often do . . . packing, life feeling pretty chaotic, and all of the stress and work that go with both of those things. (I highly recommend not combining the two . . . ever.) Vern did the lion's share of packing and moving, sparing me stress that my body honestly couldn't handle at that point. Around that time, (can't remember exactly now), I was also finally diagnosed with hypo-glycemia. All of the strange and debilitating symptoms I had been struggling under
(depression, panic attacks, night terrors, lethargy, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalances, headaches, racing/pounding heart, muddy thinking, short-term memory loss) finally made sense, and I was able to take steps to quit exacerbating my condition and learn to live with it.

At long last, the moving day came. With lots of help from friends and family, we made it to Bellingham over a two-week stretch. The lag between loading the truck and walking into the rental in Bellingham was spent with parents and cousins, and was a necessary and welcome respite from the horrors of packing/unpacking. While staying with family in Oregon, Vern and I came to the realization that the quiet dream we had of living in that beautiful area could become a reality. We had considered moving there about four years earlier, but the relatively lower land prices in Idaho clouded our judgement, and made the two and three acre parcels available here seem exorbitantly priced and restrictively small. The dream was shelved, and we went back to the reality we chose in Northern Idaho. But with the continuing development in our area there, the prices soon came into line with Oregon's, and Vern kept scaling back his idea of an acceptable place to live. First it was 20 acres, then 10, then 5. And then, staying over for that week at Miriam's house (on less than 2 acres), Vern could see how much space it really was. He saw what a wonderful place it was for her children to grow and play, and the wheels began to turn. So we began talking about settling there . . . someday.

Impatient to get moved in and settled, we got things unloaded at the B'ham house, and tried to start making a home there. But things weren't right. The property management company hadn't taken care of the home as they should've, and we spent the first week, barely unpacked, trying to decide if we could live with cabinets sticky to the touch with years' of grime, strange smells in the carpet downstairs, and an overwhelming scent of mothballs. (Well, overwhelming to me . . . it was just strong to everyone else. Chemical sensitivities is a symptom of endocrine system dysfunction, which is part of hypo-glycemia.) But, determined to end our quest for the ideal and get on with living our lives, we tried to stay. I told myself I could somehow manage to clean nearly 40 cabinet doors & drawers of about 20 years' grime and scrub 1800 sq ft of hardwood upstairs (rubbing it with a damp paper towel made the towel coal-black). And do laundry, cook healthy meals, homeschool, nurse the baby, cloth diaper, unpack, and explore Belligham. And then I would have a flash of clear-thinking, and realize my still-weak and wobbly body just couldn't do it for quite some time yet.

The view was breath-taking. Looking out the window, I really felt as though I was living in some ancient English manor, overlooking manicured grounds and a private lake. (Living above a golf course can do that to you.) I took so many photos, trying to catch the many moods of lake and sky. Even without pictures, I'll always remember its loveliness. Our
Bellingham ward (a church unit similar to a parish) was welcoming and friendly to the point that we look forward to attending there again when we go back to visit. We were right by the lake, where Vern could kayak on 5 minute's notice and we could take the kids to splash and play, I had found an awesome LYS, Apple Yarns, and loved the knit night there. (Hi Andrea, Hi Anna!) But this strange feeling of impermanence . . . of visiting . . . would. not. dissipate.

The second Sunday after arriving there, Vern got an email from his business partner, notifying us of his intent to dissolve the partnership. That completely rocked our world. So close to finishing a project that we had invested nearly two years in, and that Vern had been dreaming of and scheming for since before we were married (that's more than 10 years folks), he was absolutely devastated; I was shocked and bewildered. As if the rental wasn't enough of a problem to try to hash out and resolve, we now had a much bigger problem: dissolving the partnership without losing everything we had worked so hard to gain. It was strange, having someone who was Vern's ally and partner for 40+ hours a week suddenly step over the line and declare himself a completely self-motivated opponent.

And then driving one day, Vern was on the phone with someone and said something that still stands so clearly in my mind. He explained how
the partnership had been the prime motivating factor in our choosing Bellingham, and then said: "That factor is no longer there."

The reason for living in Bellingham disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Hearing that was the strangest experience. Like an old-fashioned newspaper title, the words stood out in bold black in my mind. It's hard to explain the feeling of liberation, almost lightness, than followed. We had been discussing the prospect of the Portland area, and upon hearing that fragment from Vern, it all fell into place.

One month after our last visit, we all went back to Miriam's for Vern to run in a 10k in Estacada. Again, it was a blessing to have the space and time away from that rental to think things over and breathe some air untainted by the stress and negative energy in that rental. And we decided to stop making decisions based on external pressures . . . to stop running from things we couldn't control. When we began looking back, all of our previous moves had been made in the "running from" frame of mind. Finally, we stopped "running from" and made a conscious choice to "go to".

We chose Oregon.

The next weekend Vern was back in Oregon, and found a house for us. The next Monday we sent notice to the property management company (who had failed to make a legally-required repair, freeing us to break the lease), and began packing like mad. With said due notice given, and within six weeks of moving in, we had moved out.

Since arriving here, my whole world has changed. I honestly can't detail it--there's not much tangible, concrete evidence to support that statement. But nonetheless, I feel as though I've come out of a long, dark tunnel. (Longer than six weeks . . . more like four years.) I'm having more good days than not, with decent energy and a hopeful outlook on the constant struggle that is my chosen vocation. I miss my parents a lot--it was wonderful living near them for the short time that we were able to. I hope that someday we'll be able to live near them again, or that we'll have the financial independence necessary to visit them often. (A vacation home near Sandpoint would be simply lovely, don't you think?)

And that's how we got to Oregon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tons o' Fun

Check it out.

Later, gators!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Little Snippet

I just had to share a snippet from my SIL's blog that just ticked my writer's funny bone:

"Squeezo Naomi and I canned 20 quarts of applesauce yesterday. It would have been 21 except one exploded in the canner. Canning is very exciting that way."

You might have to know Birrd to appreciate the full beauty of that paragraph, but I think it stands very well on it's own.

I know I've been a lousy blogger lately, but I have been making decent strides elsewhere in life, so not all is lost. It's just not blogged. ;o)

Off for the evening schtuff . . .

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Thoughts Exactly

David Heinemeier Hansson is part of 37signals, and has some choice words I'd like to share with you today:

Don't be so quick to embrace your own ignorance.

Do go and read it. The 60 seconds will be well worth it.

And ITA. Don't be so quick to embrace your own ignorance!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yeah . . . What He Said.

I saw this meme over at Knit Me a River (her dh's answers were really cute). Here are Vern's:

1)What is your favorite thing about my knitting?
Even though you've shown me how it works, it still looks like magic to me. It's kind of neat being married to a magician.

2)What is your least favorite thing about my knitting?
The stash. (We're working on a decluttering/downsizing trend. ;o)

3)What is something I have knitted, that you recall is good?
Oh boy. What to pick?

4)Do you think knitters have an expensive hobby?

5)Do you have a stash of any kind?
No, I don't have any hobbies like that.

6)Have I ever embarrassed you, knitting in public?

7) Do you know my favorite kind of yarn?
Not with any degree of confidence.

8) Can you name another blog?
Of course. Name mine. (I did . . . it's Entropy Coordinator. ;o)

9)Do you mind my wanting to stop at knit shops wherever we go?
Not really.

10) Do you understand the importance of a swatch?

11) Do you read my blog?
Yes. But I have to confess, I have been known to skim through the long, detailed knitting posts.

12) If I didn't knit, what would be different?
We would have needed a smaller moving truck.

13) Anything you would like to add?
I don't think it's good to argue with people whose hobby involves needles.

And there you have it: Date Night the Bootstrapping way! So, all y'all go off, corner your menfolk, and ply 'em with these so I can hear what they say. Just be sure you tell me, so I can go read 'em too. ;o)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Handed-ness in Knitting: It Ain't Worth a Thing.

Since this is a topic that seems to come up over and over and over in KAL's I participate in, I thought I'd just blog and link instead of repeating myself. ;o)

Knitting isn't handed. It simply isn't.

You use both hands to knit, just as you do to drive. There are different actions for each hand as you drive (the turn signals are usually on the left, the gear shift on the right, etc.), but nobody talks about left-handed drivers or right-handed drivers, or left- and right-handed cars.

Mystique swirls maddeningly around lefties learning to knit, and thickens the further back you go in time. One lovely lefty lady at my old LYS, Rachel, was taught to knit standing in front of a mirror. Her instructor (a Righty) insisted it would be easier for her to learn that way. But it's really not necessary. If anything, Lefties have an edge in learning to knit, because as has been pointed out more than once: in Continental knitting the left had does more than the right. Elizabeth Zimmerman even called Continental Left-handed Knitting. Check out how I (a definite Lefty) knit:

There are only a few stitches in that clip, but watch my hands (not fingers) carefully, and see which hand does what.

More examples are here and here.

Learning to knit backward can be handy, as it makes button bands and other small pieces easier (turning every four stitches is crazy-making). But beyond eliminating the need to turn your work in such situations, it's borrowing trouble (as is mentioned at the bottom of the page here). Knitting backward under all circumstances means that you must read charts backward, reverse written directions, or have a mirror image of what is being knitted. But more than that, it creates a mental barrier that can grow all out of proportion. Whether in your own mind, or the mind of knitters you meet, habitually knitting backward places obstacles in your way that needn't be there.

Long rant short, do yourself a favor: learn to knit Continental in the conventional direction. It's fast, efficient, and despite requiring an initial investment in time and effort, will save you hours and hours and hours of frustration and work in the long run.

And learning an already-entrenched skill in reverse is excellent for your brain. ;o)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where they know my name.

I'm feeling a little homesick today.

Listening to Already Home by Marc Cohn made me think of my knitting gals back in Idaho.

This is where I hang my hat
This is where they know my name
This is where they show me that
a man's not so alone.

And I realized that I never blogged about the retreat a million years ago in March. So much has happened since then that it feels like several lifetimes ago; and looking at the photos made me realize how much I miss everyone. This post isn't all-inclusive of the people I love and left in Idaho, there is also the group from church and the group from Scrap Night. (I'll catch those groups in another post.)

Driving out to the guest ranch took me up into the mountains surrounding Sandpoint, and up into the snow. Mostly gone at my house for a while, the snow was still obviously happy in the hills.

(Please forgive the date stamps. I forgot my camera, and so I borrowed my Mom's, and wasn't familiar with her settings until it was too late. ;o) The road wasn't bad at all, especially since I was in the 4-wheel drive. It reminded me of driving up the mountain when we lived on Gold Hill over Lake Pend Orielle, and showed me how soft I'd gotten when not-so-little thrills of fear would race down my spine as I made tight curves with nothing but open sky at the edge of the road. (Sorry, no photos of that. My hands were busy.)

Finally arriving, I was greeted by some barns and wooly horses breathing their steamy winter breath, and then approached the lodge.

It was fun, looking around inside, and seeing how it was made. With Vern a member of the Log Home Builder's Association, I've learnt a thing or two about log structures. Actually applying those odd bits of info was fun. (It's a special kind of nutsy, I know.)

Pretty nifty, no? Complete with sentinels on the loft railing.

There were just a few of the Stitchin' Sisters there in the lodge, and I was promptly directed up to my room. Along the way I was greeted by a few lodge denizens. First, I was cooly sized up by the resident moose:

I've forgotten his name, but he truly is a beautiful guy.

There, you can see what he really looks like there. I just couldn't resist playing up that nose. I next met Sam . . .

who was uncharacteristically silent. But I patted him affectionately nonetheless. ;o) I had a lovely little room, assigned to me because I was a month away from my due date with BabyB.

Done up in pinks and purples, it was feminine and Victorian from floor (mauve carpet) to ceiling (huge grapevine wreath full of silk flowers hung up on the wall under the vaulted ceiling. And here was the sweetest part of the room . . .

That's where I want to be someday. Holding one of my babies in a garden like that. It'll probably be a niece or nephew, by the time I have a garden in that lovely stage of full bloom, but it's going to happen. Some day soon.

My stuff hauled in and my knitting brought down, I checked out the view from the deck.

I know it's not much to look at (my little camera goes into a grand mal the high contrast of wintry afternoons), but it was breath-taking that day. The crisp air opened your eyes wide, and made you breathe in deeply, even though it reached places in your lungs still musty from long months inside.

We sat and knit and were served lovely meals by the great folks at the ranch. And trust me, there are few things as luxurious as having time completely unfettered by the task of preparing, serving, and cleaning up meals. This weekend sealed my resolve to hire a cook and maid when Vern makes it big. ;o)

The retreat abounded with all manner of things our knitterly group loved. Littered about, there were lovely magazines, yarn in yummy colors, candy (which I did eat, but only a little), and a few adult beverages (which I didn't drink ;o).

Once I took this photo, I noticed Audra's knitting in the background. She has one of the most interesting ways of picking I've ever seen . . . and she's fast. Check out how she works her tension:

She's holding the working yarn tensioned around her thumb, there on the other side of the sweater (where you can't see it). I think that at the next retreat, I'll have to go 'round and make a photo documentary on how each of us Continental Knitters manage our yarn.

I was the first one to finish something at the retreat. It was BabyB's newborn soaker set:

It was finished first thing Saturday morning, before some of the ladies were even up. I wasn't the first one up, though. There were some exceptionally early birds up hours before I appeared around 7:30.

And now, for some shout out's. First, we have the lovely Karen, who is a red-head all the way, and I love her dearly for it. She reminds me of one of my best friends, Cathy, who passed away about five years ago from complications due to diabetes. She was in her early 50's, and I miss her terribly. Here, Karen's working on a green tweedy cabled something-or-other with small needles and DK weight yarn.

Up next is Audra's mom, whom I caught unawares. I'm still a lousy photo blogger, but I'm getting better. Hopefully at the next retreat I'll be able get a more coherent photo story.

And here we have Denise & Kristy. Partners in crime, and hilarious. Kristy is also a first-rate stylist, and I loved to have her cut my hair. (I love small town crossovers. Don't you? ;o) Denise is mom to one incredibly cute little boy, who was rather impatient for BabyB's arrival. He saw me two weeks in a row at knit night, and after learning that the baby was supposed to come soon the first time, he demanded when he saw me the second week, hand on his hip, chin jutting out: "Where's that baby?" He was visibly miffed that I hadn't produced the little guy yet. lol

Below are Robin and Sally, the tall ones. They're both right around six feet tall, and lovely. Robin loves horses (and all animals, really), and has such a gentle heart. Sally has been cheerful and smiling every time I've seen her . . . even when things are hard. I've learned a lot from both of them.

Here we have Embroidery Jen, Bar-B-Cue (a.k.a. Barbara, a.k.a. Un Poco, No Mas), Audra (with the fun 'do), and the back of Angela's beautiful head of hair. On Saturday, shortly after this photo was taken, we were talking about age, and how old we were. We all thought Angela was the youngest, since she looked at least five years younger than I am. Turns out she's older by a year or two, making me the youngest one there. That was quite the topic for discussion, and comments were made about how lucky Angela is to look so young. Barb chimed in that Angela was like German women, who looked so very young. "Until they hit about 40," Barb finished. "Then it's pbhtpbhtpbht," she said, blowing a raspberry, "and they're all wrinkled and old."

"Hey!" Angela called back. "I am German!" and everyone laughed and laughed. 100% German she is, and so, the clock is ticking . . .

I had such a good time that I honestly didn't take many pictures. On the way home early Sunday morning (had to be back for church at 9am), I had to take a quick detour and try to catch this sunrise:

The dawn reflected on the snowy meadow simply took my breath away. This was just the tail end of it, on a very simple camera. I wish I could have had a DSLR and been there about ten minutes earlier. It's another one of those moments that will stay with me forever, along with much of the weekend. And in just shy of two months, I'll be trucking back to Sandpoint for the next Stitchin' Sisters retreat. It will be so good to see everyone, and to "cackle" in the group again.

I know that for most of you, these photos will be just that: photos. They're faces you don't know, places you haven't been. But for me,

This is where I hung my hat
This is where they know my name
This is where they showed me that
a woman's not so alone.

'Til then, knit on.

*Modifications to the lyrics are mine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest.

I thought I understood what the flora and fauna here would be like.

There would be roses (of course):

Funny names:

(I love that. Boring Bark! lol)

No more of this:

And plenty of trees . . .

And then Vern and I were talking one night. We got up to call it a night, and Vern cried out: "What on earth is THAT???"

Upon closer inspection, this is what we saw . . . Impressive, no? (Of course Vern knew what it was after a few seconds. He was just really surprised to see something so big and icky on the carpet.)

At about five inches long, s/he was a respectable specimen. (They're androgynous, you know.) S/he looked around a bit . . .

and I felt almost as if s/he was inspecting me.

We gave it a one-way trip outside, and figured s/he must have hitched a ride in on something we had carried in from the porch a while earlier.

Sweet dreams . . . (don't worry, they can't climb up bed posts . . . I think ;o)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Next time I'm having a bad day, I'm going to skip straight to the counting blessings part. It was way more fun, and I loved the comments!

Oh, and just to fill in the Birrd: yes, BabyB is 13 weeks old. That's THREE months (and a quarter). But he has been smiling (at least for his daddy) since week two.

And now, to try to figure out how to have a restful Sunday evening. (The first half of the day was great, the third quarter a little stressful (gotta love a hungry mom making lunch for hungry & whining kids), and now we're heading into the home stretch. We'll see what happens.

Thanks so much, everyone, for the wonderful messages today!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Counting Blessings

"When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
when you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
count your many blessings,
name them one by one,
and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."

--From one of my favorite hymns. (The player at that link is okay if you have a good connection. Not exactly artistry, but it gives you the basic idea.)

So, after all of that whining, I started looking around, and noticed a few things:

1) There are a fair number of folks in blog land who care about me. (Thanks again so much, everyone. It really does lift my spirits to see such warm support, even when I'm just having a pity party. ;o)

2) I got to be alive to see yesterday: 08/08/08. (Am I the only one who gets a kick out of dates like that?)

3) I have a beautiful living room: (See? I told you I'd post a photo! It's still a work in progress, so bear with me.)

4) I live in a home that really meets my family's needs, is clean and lovely, and is in a nice neighborhood.

5) I get to knit.

6) I get to see this many times every day:

7) I have many, many family members that love me; from 2.5yo Katie to my 88yo grandmother. (In-laws included . . . how awesome is that?)

8) There are beautiful flowers in my yard (no photo today . . . but soon!)

And the list can go on and on. Music, literature, art, the sky yesterday, the jokes MrC makes up (and at 8 years, he can come up with some pretty ridiculous ones), Lil'MissL's hilarious "aren't I cute smile", ad infinitum. There are as many blessings around as I'm willing to see.

Today I'm no longer sick, my ankle is just about healed, and we got to go pick blueberries again tonight in the cool evening. Life is good.

Knit on. :o)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What a day this has been.

What a rare mood I'm in.
Why, it's almost like being . . .

and the parallel breaks down completely at that point. My day began night before last with Lil'MissL throwing up just as I was getting to the good part of a rare chunk of piano time. With a little cleanup and teeth brushing she was back to sleep, complete with small trash can handy in case of a repeat. I finally got to sleep later (much later), and then was awakened sometime in the dark of the night by the Anderman calling out: "Mommmm! Moooommmm! Aaaaaauuuuuhhhhh!", and just as I got there, he threw up.

Don't feed your kids leftovers right before bed, k?

So, he got the same treatment as his sister, and got back in bed as I headed downstairs to put his bedding in the wash. Now, I have this odd habit of counting stairs. I'm not sure why, except maybe that I've long had a habit of counting lots of things as I'm walking. I've always been a little afraid of stairs, since I have a history of spraining my ankles, and didn't grow up in a house with a staircase. So, I'm going down the stairs, bedding in one hand, the other on the banister. As I get to 10 or 11, I look up out the window into the night, my mind wanders for a second as I think of how good it will feel to get back in bed, and then everything happens in a split second: I step down to the hard flooring, but it's not there; grab for the newel post that's not under my hand yet; see the lights outside disappear behind the windowsill; and hear this "crrrunchSPLAT" as I hit the floor, my rolled ankle beneath me.

Thankfully, only a dignified yelp came out of my mouth. (Well, and a few sobs of despair, as I realized what I had done, and the impossibility of taking care of a young family while completely laid up.)

After a few minutes the horrifying pain I was waiting for didn't materialize. I tried a few ginger steps, and found I could hobble without (much) discomfort. Vern had come down and put the bedding in the laundry and gone back to bed, (he's a bit muddled when awakened from a sound sleep, and I was a bit muddled myself), so I went back upstairs and laid down. Then I remembered where the homeopathic arnica gel was. Downstairs. I went and got it, (with noticeably more discomfort), and slathered some on a couple of times before falling to sleep.

Yesterday morning there was good news and bad news. Good news: no serious bruising on the ankle. Bad news: I definitely couldn't move around much. I dug out my trusty ankle brace/wrap thingy, (it only took me 90 minutes to find it, but I did get a big bathroom box unpacked in the process), and made it (sort of) through the day.

Then, last night, MissE complained of bitter thirst before bed. I gave her a drink out of my water bottle, and then had a drink myself before hitting the sack. Again, just as I was falling asleep, she threw up. And four more times before 5am this morning. The last time I had Vern get up and help her, because I was dangerously close to being sick myself. This morning I found out I was wrong. I was sick.

So, today has been spent alternately sleeping and wishing I could sleep. Vern has taken care of meals and naptimes, and I've directed traffic from the couch. The munchkins have handled it pretty well, and BabyB has been a dream today. But despite that, I'd rather have a lousy day with the kids and a fussy baby than feel like I've been through a laundry mangle and rubbed briskly all over with a barbecue brush. It is with deepest gratitude that I reflect back on the fact that while I have come close, I haven't had nausea to the same point the kids have.

And now, sitting up has exhausted me, so I'm going to go lay back down and while away the hours breathing and listening to the munchkins play in the backyard. So far I haven't even spent real time knitting. Three rounds on the cuff of the Boho Soaker for Apple Yarns is all I could manage before dropping it in exhaustion. It's so strange, being weak like this.

So, go knit a few rows for me, and I'll be back later. After twelve hours of sleep, and a good, hot shower.