Ask Poops, Please

Putting my two cents in.

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Location: Belmont, New Hampshire, United States

Born and bred in a small New England town, I am convinced that I know something about everything, and that my opinion matters. If only to me. Well, you'll see what I mean. And I love to knit, so you'll see what kind of things I'm doing when I should be vacuuming the living room.

Friday, February 27, 2009

More Stitchin', Less Bitchin'

First up, green and black mittens. The green is a tad less vibrant than that in real life, but the flash sort of punched it up into a more "dragon-y" color than it really is. It's Knitpicks Telemark in mountain green and black.

My first attempt at convertible, or flip-top mittens. I found a lot of patterns that are a mitten that opens to fingerless gloves, not fingerless mittens. So I figured "how hard can it be" and made these. It's my own basic mitten pattern that I made a flip-top for. These are Patons classic merino in faded denim. These definitely look better on. They're a bit small for me, though. I made the second pair bigger.

I also added a cable and reworked the way the top flips. And added a bigger button. Still Patons CM, but in red this time.

But the second one is chilling for now. I just finished up the second of another pair of Norsk mittens (to be photographed in the daylight) and I'm working on a couple of baby sets for a cousin of DH's who is expecting twins. I'm using Lion Brand Cotton Ease and I'm lukewarm about it. I like TLC's Cotton Plus better, I think. That's what I went in the store for but they didn't have it, so I got what I got. They'll be cute anyway, lesson learned.

And DH's brother and SIL are coming up with their two boys, and she and the boys will be here for most of March so I think I'll make them some hats and mittens out of the stash. I haven't designed them yet, but I've got a few ideas scratching around in me brains.

And while I'm showing off stuff I made, today my Bobo girl is FIVE years old! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Do They Know, Anyway?

Can I vent for a minute? Something's been bugging me and I just need to say it and get it out of my system.

I hate self-help books. Or gurus. Make that "And gurus." Maybe "hate" is too strong a word. I mistrust them. I am sick of them. Not a day goes by when I'm not assailed with an Expert telling me what and/or what not to do/eat/think.

*Can you read the small sub-title of that book over there to the left? "Healthy Cooking Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Yeast, or Refined Sugar." The sub-title should read "Just Shoot Me."

If I see Dr. Oz or Suze Ormond or Joel Osteen on TV one more time, I shall flip.

The channel, anyway.

Last week the news reports that Experts have done a Study that shows that an alcoholic drink every day can be good for heart health, especially in women. Except that this week another group of Experts have done another Study and they've found a higher rate of certain cancers in women who drink alcohol every day. So if you have a family history of breast cancer you should avoid alcohol. But if you have a history of heart disease in the family, you should have a drink every day.

What if you've got both? (Cancer on mom's side, heart disease on Dad's.) What do I do? Flip a fucking coin?

Lately, there's been quite a kerfluffle about Vitamin D and how we don't get enough of it. Not in our diets, apparently, and definitely not from sun exposure. Apparently, we as humans were originally designed to spend more time out of doors than we currently do However, we have apparently destroyed the ozone and if we expose our skin to the sun--even in modest amounts--the sun will give us the cancer.

So the Vitamin D Experts are telling us to spend a mere 15 minutes a day with skin exposed to the sun. But wait! Don't get excited! The Cancer Experts are stilll telling us that even minimal exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays can cause melanoma and to wear sunscreen and big hats and sunglasses, and don't forget the backs of your hands.

Hmmm, cancer or Vitamin D deficiency. Which to choose, which to choose...

I've decided to roll my dice and avoid the sun (I have rosacea which is a double-reason for me to stay in the shade) and I'll keep drinking my milk. I like milk. (But you should cut dairy out of your diet because it exploits animals/causes diabetes/lactose intolerance makes you fart/white foods are bad foods--take your pick.)

And it's like that everywhere. Who's right? And what the hell happened to common sense?

The sad truth is that I really have to stop watching Good Morning America. I can't believe how much of this crap they're allowed to shovel out by the wagonload every day. The story on Mountain Dew being the scourge of Appalachia was the one that did me in. I swear to you, if Chris Cuomo wasn't so damn delicious I'd change the channel. Not that their counterparts are a bit better. (And they don't have Cuomo.) But that's another rant for another day.

The one that pushed me over the edge this week was Chap Stick. I was in the dentist office where I'd just had my bi-annual gum-raping. I was checking out and I put on some Chap Stick to soothe my aching, dry, chapped lips and the receptionist looked at me in Horror.

"You shouldn't use that!" she exclaimed. "The ingredient in it harbors bacteria!"

I've been using Chap Stick for a million years. Day in, day out, winter after winter, without fail. Can you even FATHOM how many bacteria I've deposited on my mouth all this time? Have they harmed me? Not that I can tell. Who comes up with this stuff?

It seems like something like this comes up in my life every damned day.

Who do you trust? Me, I don't think I trust anyone anymore.

Tomorrow, less ranting and more knitting. Unless I get salmonella from a peanut ...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shake Your Bootayz

I finally have a bootie pattern I like! Let me rephrase: I finally designed a bootie pattern I like.

There are lots of cute "Mary Jane" type patterns out there, and those are great for a girl child, but the Boy needed something a bit more manly, with a touch of whimsy, and warm for these cold winter months.

I wanted something that wasn't a sock, but that wasn't a mess of garter stitching. I'm not a fan of the garter stitching so much. Small doses are best. I like colorwork a lot, though.

So these are in brown and black and next to red I have to say they're the two hardest colors to photograph accurately. Too dark, too light...even with my super new camera, these pics kind of suck.

But the bootayz are brown mostly with black crochet ties and a bit of colorwork around the side of the foot. On the instep I appliqued a black felt star with gold blanket stitching and some french knot accents. I stitched on a black felt sole as well with gold blanket stitching and embroidered some stars there as well. They fit, they stay on, and he looks more dressed for the outdoors with them than he does in just his stocking feet.

Why not buy him shoes, you ask? Because he has a foot like a potato. They don't make a shoe with an instep high enough. And I'm a fan of soft footwear on the little ones, even when they're kind of big.

I'm tweaking the pattern to fit little babies up to big ones as well.

In other knitting content, because I've decided that this post will be about knitting content, I've mastered the Norwegian mitten. I think. Once I learned the basics of how it is structured, it wasn't hard to design some patterns and get to knitting. It took a few tries before I got my gauge issues sorted out, so one pair is kind of biggish and two pair are kind of smallish, but size is subjective. They're biggish and smallish--on ME. I'm sure they'll fit someone, somewhere. And to that end, they're for sale in my etsy shop. You can view them at your leisure by following the handy link to the side over there. It's easier than posting all of them here all over again. I have one pair in black and green all ready to block, one mitten of a pair (navy and white with dark red button accents) done in my basket, and I just started designing a flip-top mitten pattern in light blue merino that I like as well.

Again, lots of nice convertible mitten patterns out there, but not one that's exactly what I want. So, I have my own mitten pattern that I use and I'll just adapt that one to suit my needs.

Does the world need another mitten book? Because I could write one.

Before I forget, I have to tell you what Bobo said to me this morning. I was in the bathroom (just off the kitchen) and I could hear her talking to herself by the computer. I asked her what she was doing, to which she replied...mind you, she's just shy of five...

"I'm just chatting online."

Where could she have picked that up from?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hail to the Chief

Before I regale you with a tale, please soak in the utter cuteness of my two youngest children. Go on, soak. Bathe yourself in it. Take all the time you need.

Okay, that's enough. I have a story to tell you, as promised, about the overthrow of the Altar and Rosary Society. And it has been overthrown, yes indeed. Though it was a bloodless coup.

First, a little backstory. To refresh your memory, or become newly acquainted with the situation as it was, my blog post from April 26, 2007 sums it up neatly. Read that first, then come back. I'll wait...

Link to the story of what sister and I call "Thanks, Catechists: Have Some Goulash."

Okay, good; you're back. Fucked up, right?

Now, as you can see, Sister and I decided that if we were to remain members of this organization, something was going to have to change. As we saw it at the time, there were two main issues: the president had some serious control issues, and we didn't exactly have new members lined up around the block to join. Dwindling numbers and burnout among the ladies who were left was a real issue.

It's not that we don't like Ruby. She's related, and we love her. She's a hoot, full of energy, great sense of humor and she is a good friend at the end of the day. But she's got some issues. We all do, really. (No, poops, not you! Yeah, me too.)

Sister and I felt in our hearts that an overthrow was in order, perhaps coupled with a membership drive of some sort. It would have to be accomplished delicately, with not a small amount of finesse.

Hmmmmm, but how?

We put on our Big Girl Panties and thus girded for battle we put our heads together and made a case for a strong Altar and Rosary presence in the church. Oh, we had prepared a flowery oratory about the importance of a female influence in the parish and the necessity of the galvanizing nature of single-sex clubs. I was ready to extol the virtues of the Good Works we have done in the past and with some fortitude on our parts, could continue to do. Sister would stand to my right and hum The Batttle Hymn of the Republic.

We were ready, people. Ready to whip our small band into a pack of determined, tenacious Warriorettes for the Lord. (Glory, glory halleluuuuuuujah...)

Only they had the next meeting without us.


I know what you're thinking. Way to be on top of things. You can't stage a coup if you don't even show up. Would it have killed you to mark your calendar, dumbass?

Truly, Lillian always calls every member before the meeting to give us a heads up. It had been a year since the last one and I was sure someone would let us know what the date was for the new meeting.

Well apparently, no one got calls, and the few--I mean, literally the five people that showed up--decided that if there was that little interest in doing anything meaningful that perhaps it would be best to take another break, perhaps even end the 60-year-old club altogether.

Sister and I were apoplectic. We did a lot of "what the fuck?" -ing. Perhaps if calls had been made, more people would have SHOWN UP. But what was there to do? If the group wanted a year off, there wasn't much we could say about it. And if no one came back eager to pick up and get back to work, the decision to end the group had already been decided.

Or had it?

After the second sabbatical, the Altar and Rosary was on life support. We had done nothing for nearly two years. Made no donations, had no fundraisers, no social events. Nothing to show that we even existed. We had put Grandma in the nursing home and the kids didn't come to visit anymore because she smelled like pee.

It was time to decide what to do about Grandma. She was dying, poor thing, and we had decisions to make.

We had a meeting, and you can bet your sweet asses Sister and I were the first ones there. Call or no call. We were going to show up every Thursday night at seven in the hall every week if that's what it took. (It wasn't necessary, though. We got a nice letter telling us that Grandma was about to go tits up and we should come for the reading of the will, perhaps enjoy a last slice of pound cake and a cup of decaf...)

First order of business, the President announces that she has met with the priest about disbanding and discontinuing the Altar and Rosary society, closing the doors, distributing our (massive accumulation of) funds, nailing the coffin shut, sprinkling it with holy water and burying it deep.

She had the DNR papers in front of her. Lillian led us in the praying of the rosary, which we dedicated to the group assembled and asked for the Holy Spirit's wisdom and guidance as we decided on our own fate as a club. Heads bowed, beads clicked, voices united in prayer.

Amen. Ruby read the letter she sent to us about the mechanics of disbanding and then opened the meeting for discussion. I spoke up.

There were about a dozen or so women there, give or take, all of the able-bodied members. There were many sad faces. Lots of them had been in the Society for twenty years or even more. I asked, "Who wants to see the Altar and Rosary continue? Show of hands."

I think there were two people who didn't raise their hands, and they're quite deaf so they may have thought I was asking about the Butler and Snow Fairy Society. And I'm sure they don't give a rat's ass about butlers or snow fairies.

And this, my friends, is when we got to the heart of the matter. It's what Sister and I suspected all along. President Ruby didn't want to be president anymore, so she felt it was time to disband the whole of the thing. The rest of us--the riff raff as it were--were content to continue in whatever shape or form the Society took.

And the die was cast.

I said, "That's fine. Perhaps our long-serving officers would like to step down and we can install new ones. What is the procedure for such a thing?" Murmurs of assent rippled up and down the table. ("I didn't get a harumph from that woman...harumph....thank you.")

She looked at me and said, "You want to do it?" Was it an offer or a dare? I don't fucking care.

"Sure." And I took the gavel. That was it, a bloodless coup.

Now, a president needs a cabinet.

The treasurer had already said she wanted to step down a year earlier, and Sister volunteered back then to take over for her; not missing a beat Sister again entered the fray and reiterated that she was ready to step in right then and there. She didn't quite rip the checkbook out of Jean's hand, but did it with a look that made Jean hand it over promptly.

Funny side note: Sister, who is one of the smartest people EVER had to listen to Jean explain for a half an hour about how to write a check, record it, keep track of how much was in the account...if Sister has a stroke someday it is because she smiled and nodded dutifully as not to hurt dear Jean's feelings. Jean may have found balancing a checkbook and tracking receipts to be a challenge worthy of a CPA. Sister does not. She has streamlined the bookkeeping process already. I knew she would. She's Sister.

Now, dear Lillian has been secretary since Jesus was in short pants and we thought it'd be a friendly gesture to ask if she'd like a break from her duties as well. She said that would be lovely, and Miss Jane Vespa spoke up immediately and said she'd be happy to record the minutes for us. Goddamn, that was easy.

Only a vice-presidency left to fill, which we thrust upon a newcomer, Ruth, before she could say no. (We explained that the vice-president doesn't really do much unless I get assassinated after mass one Sunday, and she seemed okay with that. Of course if I take a bullet some weekend, she's hosed.)

Here's the other part, and Sister called it: Ruby hasn't been to a meeting since. She bet that if she wasn't the Chief, she wouldn't be interested in being an Indian, and so far that's been the case. The vice-president who was deposed in absentia left the church altogether, and treasurer Jean is getting married and moving parishes shortly too so we won't see much of her anymore either. And in an early administrative twist, Miss Jane Vespa left the parish and resigned her position as secretary, so Lillian's back in harness. Which suits me fine because she knows everything about everybody and is an invaluable asset to the inner workings of the Society. She's my CIA: Catholic Intelligence Agency.

We still don't have great numbers of members, but the ones that are still there are raring to go. Old ladies aren't old like when I was a kid. We have a member who just turned 80 and became an honorary lifetime member. We asked for ID. No shit, if I showed you a picture of this woman you'd ask too. She's deafer than a hake, but other than that, she's sound as a pound baby, yeah.

I had a fantastic meeting with Fr. Albert who is completely in our corner and basically said he'll back the ladies on whatever we want to do. I told him we're going to start selling indulgences in the Spring and he marked it on the parish calendar. He totally gets me.

So in January we had our first event of the year, a Chili-Chowder-Chocolate Cookoff. We had a smallish turnout, but it was fun and we still managed to collect two big baskets of food and twenty bucks in cash for the food pantry. A small but auspicious beginning.

We're having a Ladies Who Lunch social event in May for all the women of the parish (and if you have any ideas of fun things we could do to entertain them and make them want to join us, that'd be awesome), and our craft fair/bake sale will be back and better than ever in the Summer. I'm spearheading that one and I've got some great ideas.

We have a face again!

And for the members that have hung in there, here's the thing: they feel like they have a say in what we do now. And they feel that if they bring up an idea that it won't get shot down out of hand. I will talk it over with Father and see what he thinks, and because I get on well with him (he plowed me again this morning, by the way) our ideas have a chance to become actual events. They feel like the priest is on their side instead of being the guy we have to "get stuff by" to make it work.

It's a good thing.

Oh, and the other good thing that came of this--the checkbook! Sister gave the treasurer's report and I was finally able to say what I'd been thinking forever, and that is "What are we saving all this money for?" Honestly, we decide to host a dinner and do it on the cheap so we don't have to tap into our savings? What sense does that make? And you know what?

EVERYONE AGREED WITH ME. They are tired of the constant penny-pinching too!

So you know what we did? We wrote some big-ass checks, that's what. We made a substantial donation to the food pantry, gave generous gifts to our outgoing officers and Father for Christmas, and resolved that all the money we make at fundraisers will be returned sooner rather than later to the community in one way or another. None of this sitting on it so it can earn 19 cents interest for ten years. Times are hard, people need help, and they need it now.

I'm seeing now that I've thought about the whole thing, necessary to the writing of it, that it's not often I'm able to see myself as an agent for change. The changes I effect are small, and that's on the rare occasion I get to see the results of my work. For once I can see an idea I had not only happening (so many of my ideas die young), but working in the way I had hoped.

Maybe I need to write it all down to realize it.

In my next post, I shall give my State of My Knitting Address. Here's a hint: it involves mittens.

Old Dogs and Englishmen

Have nothing whatsoever to do with this post.

Apparently, Penny Karma still checks in from time to time in the vain hope that I have something interesting to say. (At least she's still leaving me comments--that has to mean something, right?)

This one's goin' out to you, PK! *poops attempts to flash some sort of pseudo-gang sign and looks ridiculous doing it*

Penny's one of the funniest bitches on the planet. She's terminally cool, yet all fucked up, and it makes for some great reading. And she swears more than I do, which in and of itself is a feat. I rein it in here pretty well, I think, but let it be known that I think in cuss words. I LOVE 'EM. Like Spongebob and Patrick, I prefer to think of them as "sentence enhancers." (Second best Spongebob episode ever. My personal fave: Band Geeks. Priceless.)

Anyway, she wants to know if Dave's in kindergarten yet. No, not quite. He's a big son of a bitch, though.

At his 8 month checkup he was 25 pounds. To put that in perspective, he's the same size the girls were at a little over a year old. He's built like a tiny nose tackle. He wears 18 month clothes and I'm white-knuckling it that he'll fit in his winter clothes for the rest of the winter.

He finally got his first two teeth in after about 5 months of teething, and he can sit by himself. He's been strong enough to do it for awhile, but he had some balance issues. I think if you had to haul around a melon the size of his you'd have balance issues too. He has a charming smile and an excellent sense of humor. He gets it from his maternal unit.

In a somewhat awkward but necessary seque, Father Albert is outside cleaning snow out of my driveway. How many of you can say you got plowed by your priest this morning, huh? Anyone? Show of hands...

We're having a snow day this morning. I have about 20 minutes to get Bug inside and ready for school, so this will be a short one. If you're good and you eat all your veggies I'll come back later when Dave's napping and tell you a story. It's about the bloodless coup of the Altar and Rosary Society, in which Poops plants her flag and steps on the backs of old ladies on her way to the Heavenly Kingdom.

Stay tuned...

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