Month: December 2009

Vacation tales

So, nobody’s going to take pity on my need for a right-angle jig? You think having fun and horsing around is more important? Sheesh! Kids these days!

Here’s the hat Snaotheus and KrisDi insisted I had to knit for Northwood. They saw one at the beer store so I made one up as I went along. Of course, despite having the largest yarn stash in the western world, I didn’t have the color I needed so I had to buy yet more yarn… good grief! I’ve noticed quite a number of this style of hat around recently. Must be popular at the moment.


It turned out pretty cute, actually, especially with the trim of leftover yarn from Snaotheus’s Fibonacci-sequence sweater. Also made a pair of fingerless gloves for my postal person, but those aren’t of general family interest.

Spinning fools

Wiste drove up before C-day so we could attempt learning to spin. I didn’t have any real expectations, though I figured it would take at least all day to get the hang of it. Instead, we both caught on pretty quickly, so it wound up being more of a “well, what do we do now?” issue. We built Wiste a spindle so we wouldn’t have to take turns practicing, and the carders worked impressively to untangle and straighten out the sheep hair (yes, I know wool isn’t hair) so we could turn it into yarn. Wiste caught on to that really quickly. Here’s Wiste giving it a (har, har) spin.


And here’s my first single, which is what you call the one spun strand. You have to ply two or more of these together to make a more balanced yarn (one that doesn’t twist up), and I haven’t yet tried that. It (plying) is a bit like making cord out of a smaller piece of string, a technique I learned from Grandpa and passed on to you boys. We didn’t get around to trying the wheel, but I don’t think it will be that difficult. I’ve been having too much fun making spindles to try plying or the wheel.

Several people have told me this is pretty impressive for a first effort—pretty thin and quite consistent. It came to me really easily, which led me to decide that I was a textile slave in a former life. You have to admit, that’s far more likely than all the Cleopatras and Julius Caesars running around.

Old ones

KrisDi and Snaotheus came up just before they left for the Dubs Clan’s for the holidays. We spent some time with the Auncient One, who seemed to hear a lot more with her new Pocketalker, but didn’t necessarily make a lot of sense out of what she heard. Snaotheus asked her to tell us a story at one point, and she started out, “Once upon a time there was a round yellow face. It had little black round eyes and”—here, we realized that she was using as inspiration the yellow smiley face on the bag in which the Chinese take-out had been packed. This seemed outlandishly funny at the time.

Yesterday, I was trying to show her again how to get radio stations on her TV set (on cable). The TV would not come on even though the DVD player was turned off. I found the DVD of the wedding shoved in the tape player, underneath a tape that was already in the slot. I managed to pull the DVD out, but she had shoved the tape in backwards, and no amount of pulling and tugging would make that release. Not a clue how to get that puppy out.

Despite the fact that we did not show her how to take the DVD out of the player, or even tell her it was possible, she evidently discovered that it was. While I can understand how she forced the DVD in because it ought to go in some sort of slot to play, I don’t know how on earth she could have shoved the tape cassette in backwards. That’s a technology she’s known how to work for 20 years. Although she’s at such a low point cognitively that it didn’t occur to her that she should check the tape. Her approach to problem solving (in areas outside her specialties) has pretty much been “shove it harder.” There’s nothing I can do to help, either, because she a) can’t remember, b) won’t (or can’t remember to) read instructions, c) loses instructions, d) can’t remember, and e) can’t remember. Talk about frustrating. She’s not aware of these things enough even to be frustrated anymore.

And yet… the day the kids were here, she had worn a new dress to breakfast (before they arrived, about 9 a.m.). I asked if she’d gone “shopping” in the “free” box, which she does fairly often (and recently scored a seriously luxurious possom/merino sweater from New Zealand that I think she threw in the washing machine without even thinking to look at fiber content). “No!” she snapped. “This is my wedding dress!”

This is patently impossible, and I foolishly expressed doubt, and then let it go. If she wanted to believe it was her wedding dress, fine.

But then I told her when the kids were here (maybe seven hours later; her usual memory span is about 10 minutes now, tops) that it looked very nice on her, and she gave me a smug look and said I shouldn’t’ve disagreed with her about its being her wedding dress. Sometimes it astonishes me that she remembers things—and they’re always things she thinks she can beat me up with, which is not part of what used to be her normal personality. She’s becoming spiteful and a little bit mean. It’s really hard to watch this happen.

The big tree trunk

Right on my favorite trail at the park stands a big tree trunk, the remnant of an enormous tree that probably blew over. About six or seven feet tall and probably four or five feet in diameter, it’s covered with woody spikes and lumps where the wood fibers broke and shattered. The first time I walked past it, I noticed that many of the spikes and crevices and holes sported little rocks and pebbles of various sizes, shapes and configurations: lots of single rocks, a few spots with two or three stacked in columns or placed side by side, all kinds of things.

This decomposing trunk had become a sort of community bulletin board, marking for those who put their pebbles on it when they’d passed it and with whom. It was easy to imagine toddlers sitting on their fathers’ shoulders and putting their little pebbles on the top, and best buds sneaking theirs into tiny crevices near the bottom. I put my own pebbles on it to commemorate the first time Rusty and I completed the whole ’round-the-mountain trail. Another one with Blue, for a couple of landmarks. I loved that trunk, and I’m sure everybody else did, too. It told the story of all those people who had passed it and stopped to mark their visit.

A few months ago, Blue and I rounded the corner and neared the trunk. It looked different, and when I got nearer I realized somebody/ies had vandalized it. They’d knocked the rocks off, kicked off some of the softer parts of the trunk, and just generally made a mess of it. The trunk itself still stood, although it looked forlorn without its dressing of little pebbles.

Of course, the trunk as metaphor came immediately to mind. People build up a community or a civilization one rock at a time, and then the Huns (or maybe Republicans :snickers:) come along and destroy it. It’s bad for a while, and then individuals come along and put down a rock. Somebody else comes along and puts down another one. And eventually, the thing is rebuilt. We like to think that things are rebuilt better than they were before; but I think that’s often wishful thinking.

This is the tree in a recent (pre-autumn, evidently!) state of rebuilding. Since I took this, a couple of new rocks have been stuck in the more flexible woody bits at the top, someone put a flat piece of wood to the left and set rocks on top of that. There are also lots more pebbles of all shapes and varieties placed all over it. It’s looking good again. 🙂


Posted by wordsmith in Family, 0 comments

Holiday assignment!

“You engineering types, related to me either by blood or shirttails (that includes you, Legge!), here’s a great project for you on these long holiday days when you have nothing at all to do!” said the old hag, trying desperately to sound like a perky cheerleader.

I need a jig that will hold shafts at 90 deg to the base I shall attach them to. Bases will vary from probably 35-40 cm to 4″; most will be in the 2.5″ to 3″ diameter size. It will need to work long enough for glues to set, anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour or two. The bases will most likely have holes either existing in or drilled through the center. I can drill holes at 90 deg, or pretty close to it, but there is likely enough slop that a shaft can be pushed to 90 deg if it’s off a tish. The difficulty is keeping it there until the glue sets.

Ready? Set? Go!

Posted by wordsmith in Family, 0 comments

It’s true, it’s true!

You really can find anything (and everything) on the Internet!

Merry Christmas, you’uns whom I wish I could see. Toast and hug yourselves for me.

Posted by wordsmith in Family, 0 comments

Snarl, snap, gnash!

I cannot believe that this happened. I have worked with sharp pointy knives (X-acto types, to be precise) for more time than any of my children have been alive and only once actually damaged myself. Yet somehow, the bloody (no pun intended) damn thing embedded itself in the back of my index finger today, a good half-inch deep. Probably could’ve used a suture, but butterfly bandages were made for borderline things. Honestly, how do these things happen?!? :gnashes teeth:

Posted by wordsmith in Family, 0 comments

Another one bites the dust

The very, very last remaining member of Grandma’s generation (that I know of, anyway) died day before yesterday. She was around 88. Her name was Marjorie Hulse, she was 6′ tall, and I remember her from my childhood with great fondness. She did fun things with me, which was a very uncommon thing for adults to do in those days. Hydroplaning! Boat rides on the Mississippi!

Grandma was OK about it, though I expected her to be angry ’cause Marjie was younger and got to go first. We started talking about her family and I learned a story about her cousin Elizabeth, of whom I had never heard before. Evidently, Elizabeth ran off as an adult either with a man or a woman, depending on the family lore you pick. In her day, this was such a scandalous disgrace (disgraceful scandal?) that nobody ever talked about Elizabeth again, ever ever. And her Uncle John, my granddad’s youngest brother, who was an undertaker and died very young of blood poisoning he contracted while embalming someone.

I wish she could remember more clearly. Neither she nor Grandpa ever talked extensively about their families. But even fuzzy memories are better than none. And probably more entertaining, sometimes!

Back to the Dead Guy Ale I found today (no Double Dead Guy, doggone it), and I have a six-pack of Lagunitas Maximus. Maxima? Whichever. And toys. Toys! Toys!

Posted by wordsmith in Family, 0 comments