Tuesday, October 31, 2006

hell hath no fury...

...like me and my bowsaw.

Yes, that's right, I said bowsaw. I went to Home Depot today and bought myself one. Then, when Daughter fell asleep for her nap, I went outside and started to dismantle a dead tree that's been laying in our yard for a year and a half. It fell during a spring ice storm in '05. Technically it is our
neighbors' tree, but as they have 15 dirtbikes, a horse from an old carousel, a duck with its own wading pool, and a trampoline in their yard, we don't figure they are the type of good people who will ever offer to have their tree removed from our property. They also just stand in the doorway and scream at their kids during the warmer months...you know, those kind of folks. Whatever.


Here is what remained after I chopped, hacked, and dragged. I should have taken a picture before I started - the change is pretty big. It has been laying there so long it's just a tangle of viney growth. The tree it landed next to has started to grow around it. It's a mess. We will probably lose the tree in the foreground as well - the back split off during the storm 2 weeks ago. We will pay for that to be removed, but I can do the dead tree myself.


Here's what I removed. The photo doesn't even do it justice. There's a lot of stuff in that pile.


And here's a look at the whole mess. I really want to reclaim the backyard so we can seed it next summer and have nice grass for Daughter to play on.

It was really satisfying to do this work. I just chopped away at the smaller stuff with big hedge clippers, and sawed the branches that were too thick to be chopped. Then I dragged and raked and dragged some more. There's something very cool about the moment when you're sawing a branch and it makes that "crack!" sound before it splits off. I worked until my arms felt like noodles, I could quite literally smell myself (eew!) and I had sweat running down my back (also it was over 60 degrees today, which is kind of why I did it in the first place). I also bitched and crabbed and talked to myself, letting out some pent up emotion that really needed to be released.

Now that I am done I have that crazy high - you know how that is? You work so hard it hurts and then you just feel so...cleansed, or something. My arms are going to hurt SO MUCH tomorrow (I already started taking ibuprofin to head off the pain), my palms are blistered, and I have some scratches on my hands, but it was worth it. I'll be back out there to do more as weather permits. Who knew cutting apart a dead tree could be such good therapy?

(Yes, I was conscious of my safety - nothing could fall on me, the tree is laying on the ground. And I am very careful with my shiny new saw.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

stuff and stuff

You know, I'm usually not one for melodrama...in fact, I hate feeling weak and weepy in general. But quite frankly, I feel like life's been kicking me while I'm down for like, the past year.

Every day I wake up feeling like I'm huddled at the bottom of a dark hole, my knees hunched up and my hair hanging in my face, all cold and wet and sad. And I have to make the conscious decision every day to get up and try to climb out of that hole. Some days - most days, really - I am able to do just that, and I go about my business. But some days the walls are just too slippery and I slide back down into a crumpled heap.

This week was filled with those days. Last night I had to run off and be alone, so after dinner I scooted out to the craft store to get a knitting needle for my current project, then wandered around WalMart almost until closing time. Man, that's a lame and sad thing to do. You ever do that? Just wander WalMart late at night? You'll see an interesting cross-section of humanity.

I bought some stuff, but that didn't make me feel any better. I stopped for drive-thru coffee to bring home to Hubs, and got one for myself but that didn't do anything for me either. Finally, halfway home, I burst into tears. It quickly turned into ugly crying, with the snotty nose and the gagging. I cried loud and I cried hard, until my throat hurt and I could hardly see as I drove through the rain. I was still crying as I pulled into the driveway, so I sat in the car with my head in my hands and let it come.

I started this blog about a year ago now (well, November 1), and I looked back today at that first month of posts. Back then the blog was what I had intended it to be - a lighthearted look at my little life with Hubs and Daughter, and my crafty endeavors. The writing is nice, light, entertaining...and was written by a different girl altogether than the one typing this tonight. I am so glad that a number of you found me here and came back for more. I am so sorry that you've had to get to know me through hearing about the worst year of my life.

Thank you for sticking with me and understanding. Thank you for letting me use this craft blog to share my feelings and experiences, and thank you for your words of support.

I'll be back in a few days with some new projects, some completed projects, and probably some more maudlin words. Here's hoping the next year will be better than the last.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

wee break

Sorry for the lack of post-age around here. I'm having a difficult time right now and don't much feel like talking.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

attention knitters

So I want to make myself this sweater. Anyone know of a pattern?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

getting back to (relative) normalcy

Thanks for your kind responses to our disaster...though quite frankly, it hasn't been much of a disaster for our immediate family. I think God let us off easy on this one because of all we've been through. One or two of you have asked if there is anything far-away people can do. I would say just pray for the people who are still without power, that they may remain patient and allow crews to get the job done. Otherwise, it isn't too bad around here, I don't think. The roads are passable, the supermarkets are open. The main problem is getting all the huge old trees cleared and fixing the power lines. Buffalo is an old city and has (or had) thousands of gorgeous giant trees - that's actually the whole problem with this storm. The leaves weren't finished falling by a long shot, and they caught the heavy, wet snow. That's what caused the breaking of the branches in the first place.

Also, to clarify, this was not the kind of snow you really wanted to go play in. It was too dangerous to be outside anyway. Plus, I haven't bought boots for Daughter yet - it's only October for pete's sake! I have looked at them at WalMart and Target - over the weekend I couldn't help but think of Karen's post last winter in which she advised us all to "just buy the boots!" Karen, you were right. I should have picked them up when I saw them. I'll be doing that this week.

***
Onward to more fun stuff.

To answer a comment question, the buttons on the blue sweater were purchased at WalMart. I swear, it's true. They have only a tiny button rack but there are some treasures to be found.


I did much knitting by candlelight over the weekend, so there are projects in progress that I hope to show soon. I wasn't going to knit for Christmas this year, but there has been a special request by my bro-in-law's girlfriend for a pullover. How could I refuse?

And today I finished up 2 paid projects:


Fall leaves on a black background


Fall leaves on a cream background

YAY! No more applique! These were a lot of work but they came out really nice, methinks. You can't tell here but the leaves and stems are stitched down about 1/8" inside the edges with King Tut cotton variegated thread in the colors of the leaves. It's purdy. There are 2 because the store I work for has 2 locations - one of these wallhangings will go to each.

The pattern is "The Old Oak Tree" (#338) by Prairie Grove Peddler. It has directions for two different size table runners and this wallhanging (finished size 24" X 27").

I have a bunch of fun projects as well as a bunch of necessary projects on deck. I changed my quote up top there - it used to be from the Beastie Boys (I'm a dork!) but now it's a neat quote I got from somewhere I can't remember. I like the sentiment and am trying to live by it and not purchase quite so much new stuff. Many of you are total thrift-meisters and better at this than I could ever be, but I'm trying. In that vein, I am about to make new king-size pillow cases for our bed from an old fitted sheet that has a tear, and hopefully some curtains for our bedroom from the same sheet. I'm thinking of using some Rit dye for the curtains (the sheet is bright white, 100% cotton). I've never used Rit before but I'm adventurous. Stay tuned for that one.

Also on the boring but necessary front, we decided to cut apart the back pillows on our sofa, wash, re-sew and re-stuff them. The dog has ruined them by laying up there to sleep. I've done 3 of 5 so far and frankly, they look awesome. All I've had to buy is the new stuffing, and that will only end up costing us about $30. That's a lot cheaper and more responsible than getting whole new couches!

Also, I have fabric for Christmas flannel pants for Daughter, some purple corduroy to make her a church dress, and eleventy-billion quilt projects started. I intend to knock down some of the languishing project pile over the winter. And I'm trying to choose a month to dedicate to knitting baby items for the hospital bereavement program - I'm thinking January, for something to work on in the Christmas/holiday aftermath.

Monday, October 16, 2006

camping in

Holy moly, what a weekend!

Thursday evening the snow started, and it was heavy, wet "lake effect," which to some of you doesn't mean anything, but many of you know how bad that can be. It didn't start snowing where I live until nighttime, and we didn't lose power until halfway through the 11:00 news. We spent a very dark, chilly night in our house, during which Hubs and I got approximately 2 total hours of sleep. Between checking on Daughter every 15 minutes, peeking outside to see what the firemen were up to, listening to cars trying to get out of ditches, and hearing the rifle-shot sound of huge branches cracking under the weight of the snow, there wasn't much opportunity to sleep.

Friday morning we got up, made breakfast the old fashioned way (that is, with no microwave...goodness, how did our parents do it?!?), and thanked the heavens above that we have a gas stove and no basement. We were able to cook, and we didn't have to worry about a sump pump. It was chilly-willy outside (in the 40s) and chilly-willy inside (in the 50s) so we grabbed some perishibles and several changes of clothes and headed to my parents house. They have a generator and my Dad had the genius idea to wire the furnace for it a year or two ago. They also have a gas stove, so we knew we'd be comfortable there. The 45-minute ride took an hour and a half, as it was slow going on unplowed streets and we had to detour about 6 times to avoid gas leaks, fallen trees, and unpassable roads. There were few traffic lights working, and the thruway was closed so there were 18-wheelers everywhere. It was totally nuts. We would never have made it without the Jeep - yay Jeep!!

My parents' area got about 2 feet of snow, as I'm sure many of you saw on the news, and many more trees are destroyed out where they live. We saw roads where there were huge old trees literally hanging on the power lines between every pole, bowing the utility poles inward and causing traffic problems because the tops of the trees were in the street.

Current estimates are that everyone should have power back by this coming Sunday night. Ours apparently came back on quite quickly - we are thinking Friday afternoon, because our frozen stuff was still solid. My parents got power back yesterday afternoon. Many of our family and friends are still in the dark, there is not a generator to be had in the entire northeast part of the country, I'm pretty sure, and FEMA and the National Guard are here to work on cleanup. Many basements are totally flooded due to the melting snow (it is 60 degrees today) and no power for sump pumps. Others have lost hundreds of dollars worth of food in their freezers. Our family has been very lucky to have lost nothing except trees. My parents' yard is a total mess, but we seem to have only lost several big branches. We might lose one of our huge maples, but I haven't been out there to examine how bad it is. If the trunk is split low down, I think it's toast. None of us had anything fall on the roof, which is amazing.

Schools are closed for the week, as many are still without power, phones, heat, etc., and some of those that have power are being used as shelters for people in need. I have heard the school districts are providing hot meals and nursing care from the cafeteria workers and school nurses. That's nice to hear.

Overall, we consider ourselves to be blessed. No one got hurt, and we were warm and dry. Our only inconvenience right now is having to boil our water before consuming it, which is no big deal. I want to give a HUGE shout-out and big thanks to all the power companies that came up here to help restore power. I've never seen so many bucket trucks in my life. They are here from as far away as Alabama, and are working around the clock to get everyone back online. It's an awesome effort.

So we are good to go, and normal blogging should resume around here pretty soon. There's always more knitting and sewing to do...and it was lucky for me this weekend that my hobbies can be done by candlelight!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

egads!

Did you all see us on the news? What a mess! No time to blog...gotta go start clearing branches out of the yard.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

catching up

To catch up on what I've been making lately:


Here is a picture of the jumper I made for Daughter, seen in the post from a few days ago. As you can see, I made the facings from some funky multicolor dotted calico. I don't remember if I listed the specs or not, so I will do it here: New Look Kids #6578, size 1 but adjusted to the size 3 length. It's made from denim and calico. This is the same pattern I used for the sundresses I made over the summer and I love it. It will be making another appearance soon in purple corduroy. Also, to clarify, I did not make this dress during my crappy week - it was completed 2 Fridays ago!


Remember this one? I showed it to you sans buttons awhile ago. Well, Mom dug through her button tin and found exactly 4 of these chunky plastic buttons, which I like with the casual feel of the cotton yarn.


I definitely liked the suggestion to put one button at the top and let the rest of the front hang open, but we live in Buffalo, and you all know what that means come winter, right? Plus we live in an Old House, which means drafts-a-plenty, so Daughter's sweaters need to button all the way down.


This was finished up while we watched today's morning PBS lineup. Daughter caught whatever bug Hubs was suffering from last week, so she mostly played listlessly with her toys or sat next to me on the couch. She has that pathetic little cough and her voice is all snotty sounding - you know. Anyway, I chugged through the second sleeve while we sat there in our PJs, then sewed the buttons on really quick so she could try it on before her nap. It's perfect on her, and she will be wearing it for the rest of the day as it's about 48 degrees outside. Yikes! I guess it will get a hand-wash and blocking tonight after she's in bed. (Edited to add: Holy moly, I just checked the weather channel and it is actually 41, but feels like 33 outside...it's supposed to snow tonight! Good thing I got this finished up!)


Closeup of the buttons - love! Guess where I got 'em. Go on, guess. Yep, WalMart. I swear I hate that store so much, but darned if they don't sometimes have exactly what I need.

This sweater is exactly the same as the yellow cotton one: Knitting Pure and Simple top-down raglan cardigan, 18-month size. Same modifications (seed stitch for the bands). I really love this pattern, but it fits her so perfectly right now that I'm afraid to make any more in this size. I'll have to head to the yarn shop for the next size up, so I can work on next year's wardrobe. Yeah, I could probably sit down and do the math to figure out the bigger sizes, but meh - why do that when the designer already did it for me? It's worth the 4 bucks.

It's knitted from Ella Rae Classic worsted weight yarn, which I bought in a moment of weakness a couple weeks ago. I have been wanting to make something the exact color of Daughter's eyes, and this stormy blue-gray is perfect. I shouldn't be buying yarn, but I couldn't resist. I used my Denise needles for this sweater, in US 7 and 8, except for the sleeves, for which I used bamboo dpns in US 7 and 8.

Whew. That was a nice break...now it's back to the applique. Only 2 leaves left to go!

get it? get it?!?

Lots of bloggers are talking about Halloween costume ideas for themselves and their kids. We are not "doing" Halloween this year because my kid is only 1.5 and also we have approximately zero kids in our neighborhood who trick or treat. So we'll be sitting inside with the porch light off and having a regular old night on the 31st.

BUT, I will share with you an excellent costume idea that my college roommate and I used one year. We may or may not have been drunk when we came up with it. Here it is:

We wore sunglasses and carried sticks, and made t-shirts that said, "Kiss me, I'm Venetian!"

Monday, October 09, 2006

limping along

Ok, I am going to tentatively say that things are going better this week (so far). Today, at least, has not sucked. I'm crossing my fingers this is a trend.

We went to a farm this morning. We picked up lots of chestnuts and some very questionable looking apples and we petted horsies. We also saw:


"EKK!"

(Let me translate for you. In english that means, "look Mother, there is a letter X on each of these doors!")

But fun time is over, and now I have to applique 24 of these:



I just hope everyone who gets a Christmas gift from us this year really, really appreciates it, because all this applique is a tough way to earn some money. If I retain any sanity by the time I finish, I'll show you both wallhangings. Wish me luck.


Later!

Friday, October 06, 2006

life in the breakdown lane

Ok, so the past week has just kicked my ass. It started last weekend with a HUGE fight with my husband (all is fine now) and ended today with - hooray, oh joy, oh happy day! - PMS. Yeah, kind of forgot about that since I haven't really experienced it for like, 2+ years.

It was just one of those weeks where every day brought another round of misery. I kept thinking, "tomorrow will be better!" But tomorrow turned out lousy too.

My car battery died, and the hood was stuck shut. I mean it wouldn't budge, not even for my husband who is quite big and strong. He finally got it open and used jumper cables to fire it up again, but then we were afraid to close the hood for fear it wouldn't latch properly and this might
happen again. So we waffled for several days, wondering what to do, which means Daughter and I sat in the house, grounded. Finally I lost patience and just closed the dumb thing. So far it has been fine but you never know...

We came home one night last weekend to find a small flood in the bathroom. The cold water supply line to the sink is totally leaking. Awesome! Cause we're totally rich and can afford a plumber. Oh, and the kitchen sink, which we had re-plumbed in the spring to the tune of $300? It's leaking again too. I think that is covered for a year, so we'll surely be calling the company to send a guy.

Hubs and I both had eye doctor appointments on Wednesday. Bleh. He said neither of us really needs new glasses, but Hub's are shot - between the stupid dog chewing them and the baby bending them he really needs new ones. And he is so blind he needs those coke-bottle lenses,
and to get the good lightweight ones that don't look like coke bottles, we have to pay pay pay! Hate you bad eyes! On the bright side, I will finally get new contacts (after like 5 years of wearing the same old pair).

Oh, and speaking of the dog! Guess what? FLEAS!

There have been several more annoying things but whatever. Plus PMS. Plus my due date would have been right about any day now, so that's kind of hard. And Hub has the avian flu, I'm pretty sure, so he stayed home today, hacking and sneezing.

I have had NO TIME this week to do anything. No paid work, hardly any fun stuff - only what I have managed to squeeze in before falling asleep on the sofa at night. I hate weeks like this. Next week will be better. It has to be.


I somehow managed to do this:

(sorry, you know how I feel about the full-on face shots)

Denim jumper, as promised. It's totally cute and has contrast facings. I'll take a photo of it by itself soon. She wore it to church last week with a little shirt underneath, and tights and buckle shoes - ADORABLE! We go to a rather casual church (mass is held in the student union at a local college), and we let Daughter wander around a bit. She ended up standing in front of the musicians, wearing her sunglasses, dancing, and rocking out with the little Chicken Shake one of the guitar players gave her.

I look to things like this to help me remember my blessings, especially in the midst of such a crappy week.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

PSA

The universe is conspiring against me this week and things have not been going well. Lots of annoyances to deal with re: house, car, dog...no time to blog!

I will share this one thing that I think is SO important. Last Friday a 45 year old woman was brutally murdered in one of the more affluent suburbs around here. She went out jogging alone on a public bike path and was attacked in broad daylight. She was beaten and strangled, and possibly raped (haven't heard yet if this is the case, though they did do a kit as part of her autopsy, so probably). Her body was found only 20 or 30 feet from the path, and they determined she was killed right there. She was the mother of 4 boys, I think ages 4-13. There was no reason for this senseless thing to happen. Ladies, PLEASE, do not go out running or walking alone. Take a friend with you. Or if there is no one to join you, at least go on very public roads, keep your music turned low, and pay attention to your surroundings. It is not worth leaving your husband/partner and children with no wife and mother, just to get some exercise! Please, please be careful out there.