Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Band Played On

I spent the first few hours of my morning watching the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band from my daughter's high school play in the annual contest, shooting for a superior rating. They missed it by a fraction and I know they were disappointed -- I was in choir back in the olden days and we went to contest, too.

Perhaps I am taking more from the morning than was there because I so rarely get to see M's band concerts. That said, I suspect that they were so busy playing* that they didn't see what I got to see: kids of all shapes and sizes and talents pulling together as a team. Disciplined, focused and organized, everyone contributing. Just like any of the athletic teams that tend to get much more attention. No, I'm not going to rip on athletics -- I think sports are a terrific outlet -- but I do think that the music programs maybe don't get as many accolades as they should, even though they teach many of the same character qualities that sports usually gets credit for doing. And, consider this: how many musicians have to quit because they blew out a knee or wrecked a shoulder? Or compressed some vertebrae?

I couldn't help but notice, too, that the director had the kids' attention nearly instantly after getting on his platform and raising his baton. Suppose if I stood on the coffee table and raised a knitting needle, I could get my kids to pay attention?

*Today's pieces were pretty cool: "Sketches on a Tudor Psalm" and "Majestia"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hay! Where's My Dinner?

Sorry. I had to do it. Maybe I was giddy with the heat (40 degrees! Notice the naked horse ...) but with an expression like that -- sorry, Beau! -- how could I resist? He heard me talking and came to the door of his stall. Yes, I had a treat. One of those nasty, yummy ones that turn their lips orange. He sucks his down so fast, though, it rarely happens to him.

One of the fun things about having a Sunday off, in addition to the fact of having a Sunday off, is that I get to go the barn and watch the girls take their lesson and to take silly pictures. I brought the Rowan cable sweater along, multi-tasker that I am! Progress was minimal -- guess why:

At home later, I attached the pockets and knit up a couple of inches. It vaguely reminds me of one of those electronic Tamagotchi creatures:

I couldn't spend my whole evening knitting, of course. I also was Carleton the Doorman.

At least he asks nicely:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For whom the sun rises ...

Sometimes you just have to marvel at how ego can warp one's world. I'm thinking specifically of an episode at work the other night. Space in the section was exceptionally tight, the story list was exceptionally long and getting longer. Clearly, something had to give. Pity the poor night ace who phoned A Certain Columnist with the news that The Column was being held for one night. One. A Certain Columnist, a professional(?) journalist with years and years of experience,  threw a tantrum befitting a 2-year-old -- wait! 2-year-olds don't swear. at least at our house -- all because A Certain Columnist was being expected to take a turn in the squeeze machine. The night ace, every inch the professional that A Certain Columnist is not, calmly explained that night aces are not to be spoken to that way and hung up. I don't know that I will ever have much(any) respect for A Certain Columnist again.

Barb, at WildGeeseFibres, mentioned a few days ago that there are some phrases that make her crazy (or words to that effect). The other copy editors and I love to play this game. In addition to those she mentioned -- 'give us a sense of' and 'in harm's way' -- the flatulence abounds. Here's some more low-hanging fruit:
on a daily basis -- daily
move forward -- proceed or advance
partner with -- 'partner' is not a verb
impact upon --  i have lost the battle on this, but i can't help it. it's 'affect' or 'effect,' depending on the context and without the 'upon'
text someone, email someone -- sorry. Another lost battle, but these aren't verbs, either. Confession: I am as guilty as everyone else ...
grow a business -- business may grow, but you don't grow one. Think expand, build, contract, or merge. corn grows, as do children. But parents raise kids, they don't grow them.
brand a product or business -- cattle are branded, usually with a hot iron. ouch. There is no tidy way to say the process of associating one's product with a feeling, symbol or activity. Oh, wait. That's what marketing is!

You get my drift.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A small gift at midnight

Juggling the business of every day can quickly lead to treadmill syndrome: See the girls off to school, go back to bed, get up -- what? three hours already? -- call the orthodontist, call the vet, let the dogs out, call my parents, mail this -- due two days ago!  eek! -- change the laundry, press a shirt -- where's my ivory turtleneck? -- let the dogs in -- Gunnar, spit that out! -- make a lunch, make the 4:00 meeting, make deadline (five times in two hours), quickstop at the grocery, scoop the litterbox, put on the coffee, 10 minutes to knit? not tonight, look at the time, go to bed, start all over again. Crap, it's still February.

Luckily for me, I looked around one snowy night a week or so ago. As I pulled in the driveway after work, this was my street at 1:30 in the morning. Very quiet, very white, pleasantly cold (sorry. I am very Minnesotan in some ways). To my left ...

And to my right ...

When it looks like that outside -- daytime or night -- the next best thing to knitting is shopping for knitting. Thanks to Ravelry and JudyA. the enabler, I learned of Leena, a spinner and dyer in Finland who creates and sells lovely, lovely yarn. Socks and mittens, but let your imagination run free -- or at the least, appreciate what this woman does with natural dyes.  (As an aside, and as a copy editor, also appreciate her skill with English. She is more fluent than some native speakers I know)
Anyway, our package should arrive in a couple of weeks. Mitten kits for both of us, sock yarn for Judy. The threat of frostbite will keep me from sitting on the mailbox till the box arrives, but I promise to show and tell! The yarn, I mean.
In the meantime, I'll be plugging away on the ol' Pine Tree sweater and the Sophie sweater from Rowan  -- its pockets are at the ready, I should be attaching them any day now.  (The Jo Sharp vest has been set aside for sewing before I hunker down for the collar) Holding its own in the project parade is my skeleton scarf. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How I Spent My Three-Day Weekend

What better way to turn your back on January than to head north for a couple of days with your knitting friends? So that's what we did last Friday: Steph did the legwork -- you're grand! -- and found a lakeshore 'cabin' at Boyd Lodge on the Whitefish chain of lakes. Lovely, lovely. The view looking out:

The view looking in:

Knitting requires fortification, of course. On Friday evening, that meant soup — bean with bacon. Perfect on a cold night, with wine and hearty bread on the table and a happy fire behind us. I warned everyone that I don't cook much — did you know the stove gets hot when you fiddle those knobs? — but that didn't sway anyone. Look at their optimistic faces:

No one died and no one asked me to leave, so dinner was good. Oh yes. The knitting! Looking around the room, there was a sweater in one lap, a beautiful pair of Norwegian mittens in another, a vest, a shawl, a pair of pocket linings (boring! that was me, I must confess). Hunkered next our Ott lights, we had a grand evening.

Ranks were a bit thin for awhile on Saturday:

But the others -- including myself -- soon settled in and got down to the fun at hand. Check out the crewel-work ducks on the wall:

Knitters will understand completely when I say that the day slipped into evening before we knew it ("Say, when did it get dark?"). By the time we called it a night, I had finished those tedious little pocket linings, as well as the pathetic-looking side pieces to the Jo Sharp vest. Then it time to bring this baby out of the yarn garage:

The Pine Tree Sweater, one of the shop patterns at Sisu Designs in Ely. It's from an old Vogue Knitting magazine of early '90s vintage, I believe. I'm using Cestari 3-ply, wool and yak. It is scratchy, but it shows off the patterns fabulously. And, the sweater at Sisu washed up marvelously. Since I've been home, it's become clear that I'm not the only one who thought it was time to pull it out again. I can't get her off the thing!

Thank you all for a terrific weekend -- Carolyn, Julie, Astri and Dawn -- and a round of applause to Steph for putting it all together. Next time, JudyA. and Pat have to come, too.
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