Things that Go BUMP in my Mind

Knitting, stitching, reading, gardening, cooking--I have no time for any of it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Oh, the shame.

I've succumbed to a "reality" show. After years of boundless contempt for the things--a contempt that I cling to, even now, in my degradation--I have decided to actually follow one of them. The show in question is "Hell's Kitchen", on that wonderful network FOX. I have to watch it. I'm a foodie, for one thing, and for another I've been interested in the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen (and the totally abstract question of whether I could survive in one) since I read >Kitchen Confidential.

Like all reality shows, HK is totally unrealistic, although I don't know the extent to which the run-of-the-mill viewer is going to know that. The key plot element of last night's show was the grand opening of the restaurant with only two hours' notice to the prospective chefs. Of course they failed miserably, and of course nobody got served. I actually have a feeling that the entire event was staged for the benefit of the contestants, i.e., that all of the diners were actors/models. Or maybe I'm just a rampant conspiracy theorist.

I'm just back from my noontime run. I ran a total of 21 miles in May, which was only half of what I'd hoped to accomplish. There was some sickness in there (my own and the rest of the family's), but there was also a lot of pure laziness. Given the choice between a run and a nap at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon, I'm going to choose the nap. St. Ephraim used to pray for deliverance from "unnecessary rest." That's all well and good, but most of the time a nap seems keenly necessary.

Oh, and I started knitting a brontosaurus. I had to. Could you say no to this face?

Monday, May 30, 2005

My first knitting pics...

Here is my progress on the baby blanket so far ...

I am very pleased with how it's turning out. The yarn (Dreambaby DK) has been very nice to knit with, and I am still totally in love with the color. I'm actually a bit surprised that I'm not bored with it, since I've been doing the same pattern (k10, p10, repeat to end, k10) forever. I just wish it would grow a bit faster.

Also, here's my scarf for the Dulaan Project:

Yes, it's freakishly wide. I cast on 15 stitches, which didn't seem wide enough, so I added 5 more, which still didn't seem quite right, so I ended up with 25, which, it turns out, creates a freakishly wide scarf. By the time I figured this out, I was a good five inches into the thing, and I couldn't bear the thought of ripping it out. I'm guessing it will go to someone in Mongolia with a very long neck.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


A picture of the cosmos in my garden, taken with my spiffy new digital camera.

Cool, huh?

Friday, May 27, 2005


The time has come to start planning Andy's fifth birthday party. Those of you who have seen me in party-planning mode know that it's not always pretty. I've gotten better (or maybe just more tired) over the years, but I still have a tendency to get carried away (like when I actually considered hand stenciling the tablecloths for Andy's first birthday party).

I can't believe Andy is going to be five. In some ways, he's still such a little kid ("Tell me a story, Mommy! With a whale in it!"), and in other ways he's getting to be quite grown up ("The whale has to have a cool name: Steve."). I'm not one of those moms who gets all weepy and sentimental about the passage of time (well, maybe a little, sometimes). Mostly, I love the fact that as the boys get older, we can *do* more stuff. We can take them to places, like the downtown farmer's market orFreedom Weekend Aloft (both of which we happen to be doing this weekend). They play independently a lot more, which has allowed me to actually accomplish a thing or two in my garden. With any luck, by the end of the summer I'll be able to turn the diaper bag into a knitting project bag (bwa-ha-ha). There may actually come a day when one of us going out (usually me) does not mean disaster and frustration for the one who stays home (usually Chuck).

So anyway, we're planning the party. It's going to be a pool party, and evidently we are inviting almost every person Andy has ever met. Or maybe it's just most of the kids at his school. Either way, it's a fairly overwhelming number of people. The nice thing about having it at the community pool is that the entertainment is built in, and we don't have to clean the house. On the other hand, we're totally hosed if it rains. In either event, there will be pizza, cake and goodie bags galore. Wanna come? There's always room for a few more!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oh, come on.

***Snark on***

If you're going to weasel out of the school work day, and the rescheduled school work day (darn rain!), at least make sure your stories are consistent.

One of the parents at Andy's school told me that she and her husband couldn't make the first work day because (1) she had another commitment, and (2) hubby is disabled with a bad back, and so can't do physical work. That's totally cool with me (whether it's cool with the school director is another story, however).

But yesterday, the same mom tells me that she and hubby can't make the rescheduled work day because that's the only day her hubby (the disabled one) can help her move books from her old office to her new office. Um, right. He can't schlep mulch around, but he can carry a bunch of books. Got it.

Then she reminds me that Furman's graduation is that day. Um, half the parents at the school are Furman professors, and look how many of them are on the sign-up sheet. Do you know why that is? Because graduation is at 6:00, and professors don't have to line up until 5:30, and the workday is done at noon. Hmph.

It was so lovely to be able to respond, smiling sweetly, "Well, that's fine. There's a sheet to sign if you can't make it, and Maureen will let you know what else you can do on a day other than the work day." Translation: You are not getting out of your volunteer obligation that easily, lady. Maureen and I will hunt you down and *make* you contribute to the school from which your child is benefiting so hugely, and to which other parents willingly contribute. We are not a big enough program to just let it slide.

Of course, if we're forcing people to do stuff, it's not really a volunteer thing, but hey--everyone who signs the contract for the school agrees to serve five hours per school year volunteering.

***Snark off***

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! It's nice to know that there are people out there reading, even if you don't comment (and even if your comments are designed to fill my house with yarn and get me in trouble with my hubby!). I'm thinking that when I have some time this summer I'm going to try to jazz up the blog a bit, and I'm also going to sign on to a couple of web rings (Knit One, Read Too looks good, and there's a Southern Knit Bloggers. I wonder if there's a webring for lawyers who knit? I wonder if I should start one?). My blog definitely needs more pictures (I am dying to show y'all my progress on the blankie, and the wonderment that is my garden). Maybe I can convince Chuck that if I can't have a kitten, I should at least have a cheapo digital camera so I can upload pictures as I take them. Hmmm.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Back to knitting content...

I'm going to write about knitting today because the absolute lack of comments to the rant below is proof positive that practically no one reads my blog anyway. I can blather on about knitting all I want, and there is no one here to be bored. Feh.

Anyway, I have knitting stash now, defined as "yarn I have but do not yet know what I am going to do with." You see, I simply must, must, must make a knitted dinosaur or two. So I popped over to a second hand shop yesterday and picked up a hideously ugly baby blanket (how ugly was it? Knit totally in garter stitch, with three strands held together, varying between pink, white, lavender, yellow, and blue. That kind of ugly.), washed it, and began the process of recycling the yarn. Unravelling the thing has been a bit of a project, but I should end up with enough useable yarn for a couple of those dinosaurs. But, there will also be leftovers, even after I throw out the nasty acrylic stuff. Hence, I have stash.

However, I have resolved not to cast on for a dinosaur until I have finished either the baby blanket (which has not been touched since Sunday) or the scarf-type thing. We'll see how long that resolution lasts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A rant

About "The DaVinci crap Code." Someone started a thread on one of the message boards I frequent, asking if we thought the Catholic Church had really suppressed "The Divine Feminine", as per Mr. Brown's allegations in TDVCC. Excuse me while I vomit.

I am really, really tired of all the neo-PC handwringing about how "organized religion" generally, and the Catholic church in particular, oppresses women. Now, as you all know, I'm not Catholic, I'm Orthodox. But since we don't have women priests either (nor do we allow women to be ordained at all), we are open to the same accusation, and I take the same affront at it. Quite frankly, I think it is ridiculous that so many people look at the one (ONE!) avenue that is not presently open to women in the church and fail to see all the myriad ways in which the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox church) respects, honors, and values women.

Hey, all you protestant churches with your female ministers, what about the Virgin Mary? Both the Orthodox and Catholic churches teach that Mary--a woman, mind you--is the most perfect human that ever lived, the one human being who perfectly did the will of God. Without her, and the generations that made her, and her obedience to God, Christ could not have become incarnate. It is not the case, as some of my Protestant friends have asserted, that God could have just picked another nice Jewish girl off the street. The Orthodox and Catholic traditions are alone in recognizing Mary's unique place in history. (I'm not going to get into Mary's sinlessness and the Immaculate Conception [referring to Mary's birth, not Jesus'] here. Suffice to say that the IC is a Catholic, not Orthodox, doctrine). Did you know that, liturgically speaking, the Orthodox church year begins with Mary's birth in September, and ends with her dormition (falling asleep) in August? Hmmm.

And how about female saints? You know, like the ones we recognize as "equal to the Apostles" because of how clear it was to all concerned that these women were chosen by God to be his messengers? Were they being "oppressed" because they weren't priests? What do you think they would say if we asked them? How many Protestant churches devote numerous Sundays during the year--several of them during Lent--to honoring the example and contributions of particular women? In particular, we celebrate St. Mary of Egypt during Lent, and the Myrrhbearing women (you know, the ones who stuck with Jesus when all the (male) disciples took to the hills. Those women.). And then there's Macrina the Younger (my name saint) who is known for many things, among which is the fact that she opened up a can of whup-ass on her brother (St. Gregory of Nyssa) when he started spouting heresy. (Well, you know--very genteel whup-ass. In a letter. But the principle is the same.)

Don't anybody dare tell me that my church oppresses me because it doesn't allow me to be a priest. To say this is to deeply misunderstand the role of a priest and the role of the laity in the church. The priest administers the sacraments and ministers to the laity, it is true. But he does this so that the laity can minister to the world. A priest serves the laity so that the laity can function as the body of Christ--feeding the hungry, protecting the fatherless and the widow, etc. It's called the priesthood of the believer, and every single Christian is called to that life. And in every church I've ever been to, the priesthood of the believer is carried out primarily by women. Our hands sort the donations of clothing; our hands cook the food; our hands do the messy work. If you are a woman, and if you are a Christian, you *are* a priest in the truly important sense. And I will note that most of the saints I have run across in my brief time as an Orthodox Christian are not priests--they are monastics (a vocation open equally to men and women) or (gasp!) lay people.

And don't whine about how you can't have a "leadership" role in the church. Hogwash. Being a leader isn't about standing in the front on Sunday. It's about seeing a need and making sure it gets filled. The last time I checked, that didn't require ordination.

Okay, rant off. I'll go back to blathering about knitting tomorrow.

Happy day.

Today is Chuck's and my eighth anniversary. One of the things I like about us as a couple is that we almost never freak out about the same thing. If one of us is freaked, the other is calm. It's a nice balance.

The only time this principle didn't hold true was when we found out, two weeks prior to my due date with Andy, that he was in a breach position. That didn't freak either of us out (as pregnancy complications go, it's a pretty darn mild one). What did freak us out was when the doctor said, "We'll try to turn him tomorrow. Oh, by the way, that might cause you to go into labor, in which case you'll be having the baby tomorrow, so be prepared for that."

Um, yeah. We were kind of NOT prepared for that. Neither one of us. We got home and just sort of looked at each other for a minute, and then Chuck said he needed to go biking. I said I needed to do laundry and get all the junk out of the crib where we had been storing it, figuring we had plenty of time to put it away. He has his stress relief, I have mine. It all evens out.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Things that make you go Hmmm.

You know what freaks me out? When I go blogsurfing and pop into a blog that uses the same template as me. Every time it happens (which admittedly, is not too often), I have this brief vertigo-like sensation. "How did I get here?" Then I realize it's not my blog, but someone elses, and all is well again. Still, it's kind of freaky.

The blogs I've been surfing are knitter's blogs. I am officially in love with knitting. The lovely baby blanket that I am making is so sweet. A perfect pink color (not muddy at all, you know how pink can be), and so soft and cuddly. Its wonderfulness makes up for the fact that the only way I am going to finish it before the baby is born is to give up sleep. So, give up sleep I shall, because it's gonna get done.

And by the way, like any red-blooded knitter (or stitcher, or other craft), my response to stress about the baby blanket is to start another project. It's nothing big--just a turquoise scarf for the Dulaan Project. Or maybe a neck gaiter--it's very wide, since I cast on 25 stitches in a very bulky fabric. Or maybe I'll be really brave and attempt a keyhole scarf. In any event, it's my "just a minute to knit" project. It's all garter stitch, so no thought or counting is involved. The only challenge (since I like to work on it when the kids are awake) is keeping Owen from grabbing the skein of yarn and running off with it, giggling madly. It's a little game we play.

Speaking of Owen, my little guy had a rough weekend. When he woke from his nap on Saturday afternoon, he had a temp of 104 and was quite miserable. (He felt better after he puked all over the freshly cleaned living room carpet.) We suspected strep, but the doctor says it's just viral and he'll get over it in a few days. In the meantime, his fever is down but he keeps holding his throat because it hurts. And, I've had to wake him up the last couple of nights to give him medicine. He hates that (I'm not crazy about it either, frankly). I'm hoping we can skip that tonight, since his fever has been pretty well under control for the last 24 hours.

Friday, May 20, 2005

How I spent my spring "vacation"

You will, of course, notice the quotation marks. I began the week (during which I promised my boss to "check in" periodically, which has ended up meaning that I contemplated checking in, and then decided there was probably nothing going on anyway), with firm intentions to "sit on my butt and knit all day." Needless to say, that is not how things turned out.

Monday was errand running day, but since that included a trip to a new yarn store (Yarns forever) , it wasn't all bad. Diane at YF rocks--check out her online store.

Tuesday, I cleaned in the morning. Tuesday would have been an ideal sit and knit day, but no. What started as a search for a missing Thomas the Tank Engine turned into a lengthy tidy-up session--the kind of thing I ordinarily have no time for, but that needs to be done occasionally.

Wednesday... I volunteered at the last minute to take kids from Andy's school strawberry picking. Despite the fact that no knitting was involved, I had a great time. The afternoon involved an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Chuck to let Andy and me get a kitten.

Yesterday sucked all around. We had someone come to the house to evaluate Owen for eligibility for federal services. We figured she'd spend a few minutes with him and then tell us we were crazy for thinking he has a speech delay. Not so much. Owen appears to have both a speech delay (a fairly significant one, at that), a delay in fine motor skills, and -- here's the thing that made the day totally suck -- indicators of autism. The dreaded a-word. I know the situation is not all that bad; if he is autistic, he is very high functioning. Nevertheless, it freaked me out. We have more evaluations and meetings coming up, of course. Gonna be fun.

So, here it is Friday. Owen is home today, so no sitting and knitting for me. However, there will be a trip to Barnes & Noble for a long, solitary browse, and probably a jaunt to A.C. Moore for some yarn for a small knitting project for kids in Mongolia. Then back home, and with any luck I'll be sufficiently hopped up on caffeine to knit during Owen's nap.

Despite all this, I have gotten some knitting done this week. I'm working on the baby blanket, and I'm loving it. I can get a row (140 stitches) done in about 10 minutes, which is good because I realized the other night that my time to finish this project is growing perilously short. The baby is due on July 3, which is a mere six weeks away, by my rudimentary calculations. I am very much hoping she'll be late, late, late.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


I've been tagged, by two people, no less. (Oops! Make that three.)

The assignment: Pick five things from the list, complete the sentence, and then tag three more people (so, do I have to tag 6?).

If I could be a scientist . . .
If I could be a farmer . . .
If I could be a musician . . .
If I could be a doctor . . .
If I could be a painter . . .
If I could be a gardener . . .
If I could be a missionary . . .
If I could be a chef . . .
If I could be an architect . . .
If I could be a linguist . . .
If I could be a psychologist . . .
If I could be a librarian . . .
If I could be an athlete . . .
If I could be a lawyer . . .
If I could be an inn-keeper . . .
If I could be a professor . . .
If I could be a writer . . .
If I could be a llama-rider . . .
If I could be a bonnie pirate . . .
If I could be an astronaut . . .
If I could be a world famous blogger . . .
If I could be a justice on any one court in the world . . .
If I could be married to any current famous political figure . . .

If I could be a scientist, I would probably be a marine biologist. Maybe it's because I'm a pisces, but I've always been fascinated by the sea and the creatures in it. The other day, in fact, I wasted an hour looking at pictures of the very odd creatures that live in and near thermal vents in the ocean floor. Cool stuff.

If I could be a doctor, I would want to work in the ER. I like to think that I could help people who are both hurt, and probably scared about being hurt. Especially parents of little kids. Having been in an ER with my hurt little kid, I know how wonderful the staff was and how much they helped me get through it.

If I could be chef, I would probably want to be a pastry chef, and I would have my own little cafe that would serve all kinds of yummy muffins and breads at breakfast, sandwiches, soup, and cookies at lunch, and incredible desserts to the evening crowd. I would hire people who need a bit of good luck and teach them skills that they could take with them to bigger and better things (except, of course, a competing pastry shop!).

If I could be a librarian, I would specialize in children's books so that I could give helpful advice to parents who needed it.

If I could be a gardener, meaning a real one instead of the amateur I am right now, my garden would take your breath away. The front half of my back yard would have a path leading to the back half, which would be obscured behind tall trees growing on the hill. The back of the garden would be a wonderful surprise, with patches of sunlight and spots of shade, and interesting things everywhere you looked. I would also grow lots and lots of vegetables to feed the whole neighborhood. There would be flowers everywhere.

Off to tag others. No tags back! :-)

Monday, May 09, 2005

A word to the wise...

My dearest little Owen,

I know that yesterday was only your third Mother's Day and that you're still trying to get the hang of how the whole thing goes. So, I'm willing to cut you some slack for yesterday's debacle. But for the future, let me give you a few tips. You may wish to bear these in mind on Father's Day.

(1) Do not wake up at 2:00 a.m. If you must wake up then, kindly stay in your room and go back to sleep. If you are really, truly lonely, you may come snuggle with me on the condition that you immediately, and with minimal squirming, fall asleep.

As you may recall, my brown-eyed darling, 2:00 is when you woke up and decided it was "play with Mommy" time. You may also recall that Mommy didn't want to play, and neither did Daddy.

(2) If you are not going to follow my advice on #1, and you insist on being accompanied downstairs by Daddy, do not make that noise (you know the one I am talking about). If Daddy has to be up with you in the middle of the night, he is at least entitled to lay on the couch and bemoan his fate while you play. I know that you know that if you make that noise for a long enough period, the person you really want--me--will come downstairs. That is not a good enough reason for the making of the noise in question.

On the subject of that noise generally, my dear boy, you really need to quit it. In particular, neither the fact that the cat is within one foot of you on the couch, or that the DVD has skipped again is an occasion for making that noise. Really, nothing short of impending nuclear catastrophe is an occasion for making that noise.

(3) Also, do not make that noise simply because it irritates you that homemade waffles take a full four minutes to cook. Trust me, my sweet, if I could accelerate time to make the waffles arrive faster, I would. I'm sure that Daddy would, too, especially since he was the waffle maker. It's not going to happen, not matter how much you screech, so let it go.

(4) Accept naptime with grace and dignity. Do not dig your heels into my solar plexus while whining "no night-night." Furthermore, do not make that noise while hanging onto your door trying to escape. Mommy and Daddy are experts on tiredness, so please trust us when we tell you that you are tired. And even if we did not know this from your behavior, our mathematical and reasoning skills are sufficiently advanced to know that four hours of sleep in the past 24 is not sufficient.

In other respects, you did quite well on Mother's Day. I particularly appreciated that you and your brother played so nicely together while I worked in my garden, and that you ate a good lunch, and that once you had finally had a nap you were as sweet as pie. I also seem to recall much general cuteness and a big, slobbery kiss or two. All in all, not a bad performance. If you just work on the points mentioned above, I'm sure next year will go swimmingly.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A confession.

I am into escapism. When it comes to entertainment--movies, plays, TV, and to some extent books--I don't want drama, or pathos, or sadness. I have not seen "Schindler's List" or "The Passion of the Christ," and frankly, I have no particular desire to. It's not that I think those movies, and others like them, are not important. It's more that the horror of the Holocaust is already real enough to me that I neither need nor want to see it depicted on film. (I do, however, want to see "Hotel Rwanda," in part because I'll watch Don Cheadle in just about anything.)

A big reason for my aversion to drama in film is that there is enough of it to worry about in real life. There is genocide in Sudan, there are orphaned children living in sewers in Mongolia, and God help you if you're a triplet in North Korea. Why do I need pretend pain when there is so much real pain in the world, and so little I can do about it?

For this reason, I had my misgivings when Chuck and I went to a play last night. It was a fundraiser for Andy's school--a production of "Topdog/Underdog," a Pulitzer-prize winning play about two brothers and their struggles with each other. The play culminates in one brother shooting the other to death (having already shot and killed his erstwhile lover). The circumstances leading to the shooting--an impoverished upbringing, neglectful/abusive parents, lack of education and basic skills, an inability (due to all of the above) to dealing appropriately with frustration and lack of self-esteem--were all things I see daily at work, in the death penalty cases I work on. And I know what would have happened if this play had been reality. The other brother would have been arrested (perhaps after shooting a cop in a vain attempt at escape, but probably not) and sent to trial with a barely competent, overworked and underfunded public defender. He would be sentenced to death and he would die, and no good wil have come out of it for anybody. I see it all the time. I don't need a pretend version. All the pretend version does is remind me of my basic helplessness, and really, do I need to pay a babysitter $35 dollars so I can be reminded of that? All I have to do is listen to NPR or watch the news, and those are both free.