Monday, April 30, 2012

Design Wall Monday and UFO Report - Jack's Chain part 1

I have reached the halfway point on my Jack's Chain quilt, with half of the total blocks pieced (although not all connected into rows).  This is enough to declare victory for the April UFO challenge.  YAY!  I'm also encouraged because I have almost all of the total 9-patch units necessary already pieced.  I only need to do a few more sets.

I will probably keep going, because it's a messy WIP and it would be nice to get it all put together into a finished top, and then I could put away all the little pieces and fabric leftovers.  I have found that no matter how tempting it is to start new projects, I get so much more done if I just work on one thing at a time.  You have to balance it, though, or it becomes just another chore.  I'm still, surprisingly, at the stage where Jack's Chain is fun.  Even with all those picky start-and-stop set-in seams. 

It's going to be a really cute quilt.  When I started it I had never seen another Jack's Chain quilt -- I found the pattern while leafing through Maggie Malone's 1001 Patchwork Designs, and then it's also at Quilter's Cache.  Believe it or not, I saw the interplay of hexagons and 9-patches and thought, "That would be really cute in 1930's fabrics."  As I've since found out, that's what a lot of 1930's quilters thought too!  And I've had a fair number of comments from blog readers who have also made, or know somebody who has made, the pattern.  Thanks to all commenters, you've given me the kick I needed to get this project going again!

Stash report - nothing really to report this week!

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 31.8 yards
Added this week: 0 yards

Added year to date: 27.2 yards
Net used for 2012: 4.6 yards

Yarn used this week: 0 yards

Yarn used year to date: 1956 yards
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
Net used for 2012: 1464 yards

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Primigenitus and Steve returned from their college visit trip this afternoon with the decision made, the deposit paid, and these words that I have a hard time believing: "The food at Grove City is SO good!"

I would not have heard this in the years 1985-1989 when I was a student there.  But apparently, it's all local and organic produce, and they have panini stations and omelet stations and even make your own stir-fry stations, like at the Mongolian grill.  No more of the choice of broiled cod or liver and onions.  Or the infamous "Ham Load."  (It was supposed to be loaf, but it really doesn't matter what they called it, it was not good.) 

Consolation prize to Hillsdale: even though you're not getting my son, I happen to know you are getting a couple of other quality young people.  I was amused to hear about your game of Thatcherball.  I trust no disrespect is meant to the Iron Lady.  I also hear that Cocoa Puffs were served in the cafeteria for the first time after a long hiatus, and they were very popular.

And Princeton... what is up with you?  I know, personally, two quality young people, National Merit Finalists, that you turned down.  Really?  The time has come when the sensible people start to say, "Who needs you?"  There are better options.
I tamed the mess.  Now there are just several bins of paper for Primigenitus to sort through.  Note the Gryffindor scarf hanging in the closet? That was my very first knitting project other than a swatch.  Historical value, right there.
There were 3 or 4 ties hanging on this hanger when I started.  There are now 16.  All the ones I hung up were on the floor or draped over furniture.  You shouldn't treat ties this way, especially bow ties, because you know the Doctor says "Bow ties are cool."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Touring Choir

Primigenitus and Steve are at Grove City College, my Alma Mater.  In divinely-appointed timing, they arrived just as the Touring Choir was rehearsing Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei in Harbison Chapel, and took this video.  I should explain that I was in Touring Choir myself in 1988-89, under the direction of Dr. Douglas Browne, who is still the director here.  And Steve and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to travel with a special Alumni choir group on a tour of the British Isles in 2005.  We sang in St. Patrick's, St. Giles', and St. Paul's.  We sang Holst, Gretchaninoff, and Rutter.  There are no words for how wonderful it was... and I know a lot of words.

One of the biggest regrets of my college years -- actually, of my whole life -- is that I didn't audition for Touring Choir earlier.  Rehearsals were always a mixture of intense hard work and sublime beauty.  Performances were the same, but with fewer interruptions. It is pretty close to my conception of Heaven, and Dr. Browne is pretty close to my conception of the ideal teacher.  It is hard to listen to this without tears, not just because of the beauty of the music, but also because of the beauty of what I can no longer be a part of.  I have a deaf ear, I am at a different stage of life, and there is no choir in my life, and there would be no time in any case.  And there may be a teensy bit of jealousy, because this is what my day involved:
...intense hard work, but not so much of the sublime beauty.  Well, with the possible exception of Big Bear.

But if someday I wake up, and my left ear has stopped ringing and is working again, and "I got shoes ... robe ... wings ... harp," I will know I am in Heaven.  And Dr. Browne will be directing the choir.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Jack's Chain

After all the excitement of getting my Farmer's Wife Quilt top completed, I settled down to work on Jack's Chain.  This is my UFO project for April, and I will declare victory if I can piece half of the required blocks.  Tentatively I am planning a twin-size quilt.  It goes together in rows of 8 hexagonal blocks, like the top and bottom rows you see here, and then connecting rows that are basically strips of hexagons alternating with 9-patches.  The piecing isn't too bad; even though there are set-in seams I think I have the basic hang of putting them together without too many puckers.  I can do a couple of blocks a day; I need to make 2 more of the main rows and finish 2 connecting rows to meet my goal for the month.  Every once in a while I do some straightforward piecing of the 9-patch units.
I stayed up way too late last night sorting and playing with fabric.  That's what quilting is all about, right?

This week's work:

  • Farmer's Wife Quilt - finished the top!  I'm thinking about backing now, maybe one of my vintage sheets.
  • March UFO knitting bag - no progress, shame on me (ditto from last week)
  • April UFO Jack's Chain quilt - about 1/2 done with my goal for the month
  • I staged an intervention in my 17-year-old's room while he is off looking at colleges.  There are 16 ties hanging on his tie rack now (there were 4 before, all the rest were on the floor).  I organized his dresser and closet.  Haven't touched the bookshelves yet but they desperately need it, and the whole place needs a good vacuuming and dusting.  I mended some of his clothes and took photos for a tutorial of my jeans-darning method to share sometime soon.
  • knitting Black Roses Stole - small progress
  • Traveling Companion Shawl - small progress
  • knitting cotton bath rug - no progress
  • knitting argyle-fest - no progress
  • spinning - small progress on blue Wensleydale

  • Freshly Pieced is the hub of the WIP Wednesday action: check it out!

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    "What Good is an English Major, Anyway?"

    These words were said to me by a friend about my son, a prospective English major, who is off in Michigan and Pennsylvania this week with Steve, checking out colleges.  And then another friend sent this in an email:

    "What is the difference between an English Major and a pizza?
    The pizza can feed a family of four."

    Ba dum bum.

    I think they both know that I was an English major.  And the obvious retort that came to my mind was "But just think, if there were no English majors, Christian schools would have a much harder time finding employees to under-pay."  But for prudential reasons, it would be unwise to send that email.  So I'm putting it in a blog post instead.  Mock an English major, and be introduced to the literary genre of satire.  That's where people who are nearly unemployable anyway because of their tendency to read culturally irrelevant works (like Shakespeare) channel their bitterness into their over-developed verbal skills to say things that will make them complete paupers and social outcasts.  Like J.K. Rowling.

    Seriously, my father (the Philosophy and History major with a doctorate in Theology) has lobbed blonde jokes at his three blonde daughters for decades.  But even he knows better than to mock the English majors in the family.  He needs us to text-edit his papers.

    If money was the thing we wanted most in life, I'm pretty sure we could have taken our English majors and done something high-paying with them.  We could have been Community Organizers.  I hear there are lots of opportunities for advancement there, if you know the right people.

    I was going to title this blog post "101 reasons why Primigenitus should choose Grove City College over Hillsdale," but I'm sure he'll be glad to see I changed the topic to something we can both agree on!

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Farmer's Wife at the Farmhouse

    I am so very seriously excited to share my finished Farmer's Wife Quilt top. Here it is on my outdoor design wall/fence. I was thrilled that the morning sunshine cooperated for a nice photo shoot.  I have a white picket fence and a 100-year-old farmhouse for such a time as this.
    All 111 blocks are in there to make the queen sized version of the Farmer's Wife Quilt, about 83"x103".  All of the blocks were made from my scraps, with a special emphasis on vintage and upcycled fabric.  I did buy fabric for the sashing and borders because I needed that blue to tie it all together.  And it did!  I really love the way the colors all harmonize, even though there's a little of everything in there.
    I'm figuring out how to quilt it... I'm pretty sure feathers will be required for the borders and setting triangles.  But no way am I marking it; it will have to be freehand.  True confessions: the sashing strips and cornerstones do not all match up with perfect corners.  And I am not at all fussed about that, either!
    A bit of a different angle to try to capture the Veronica blooming on the stone wall.  I will be linking up this post to Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, the Patchwork Times, the Homestead Revival Barn Hop, Crazy Mom Quilts, Sew Many Ways, and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  I am just so happy to have made it to this point.  I love the book and the patterns, and I love the way this quilt celebrates my rural and thrifty heritage in a way that is very "me."

    Stash report

    Fabric used this week: 8.2  yards (estimated for FWQ top; there are a lot of seam allowances in there!)
    Fabric used year to date: 31.8 yards
    Added this week: 0 yards

    Added year to date: 27.2 yards
    Net used for 2012: 4.6 yards

    Yarn used this week: 0 yards

    Yarn used year to date: 1956 yards
    Yarn added this week: 0 yards
    Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
    Net used for 2012: 1464 yards

    Saturday, April 21, 2012


    Going to see the Cedar Tree production of The Importance of Being Earnest yesterday was a good idea.  My Saturday today has been overstuffed with randomness, but the witty dialogue acted as an inoculation and I'm better able to deal with it than last week.

    Yesterday was Grandparents' Day at the school.  I think this was the first year I've ever had multiple grandparents in each of my three classes.  I will need to plan better for it next year and not even try to do anything academic with 6th grade.  I had better success in 7th and 8th grades, where we played Latin Jeopardy with a little less than the usual quibbling about the rules.  And do you know, I finally figured out yesterday why the games in sections 3 and 4 of the Latin Jeopardy don't work for my classes: they are designed for 3rd and 4th year HIGH SCHOOL Latin students who are diligently prepping for the AP exam.  I would feel smart for figuring that out, but I'm a little embarassed that it took me this long.  Maybe I'll write up my own Latin Jeopardy games to supplement the ones that I keep using over and over again.

    National Latin Exam results are in!  FIVE gold medals in 7th grade, and THREE in 8th grade.  No perfect papers this year, but that's the most gold medals ever!  The kids in 5th and 6th grade who took the Intro level test did respectably well but we have a long way to go together.  I doubt we'll quite see this level of overachieving next year, so I'll just have to enjoy the moment.

    I'm very tired now: here is my Saturday checklist:

    • correct my 3rd quarter gradekeeper file for 7th grade, where I had left out a makeup test.  Email the appropriate people.
    • remember to take my allergy medication, unlike yesterday
    • assignment for the Latinstudy list - translation of the part of Bede where he talks about King Aedwin's council on whether to convert to Christianity.
    • assignment for the Latinstudy list - translation of Caesar's invasion of Britain, the part where the cavalry transports get caught in some inclement weather.
    • take Tertia (and Quarta) to the Ship Shop to buy Webkinz.  Tertia picked out a unicorn with peace symbols all over it, and calls it Pinkie.  Quarta picked out a bunny and a hamster, called Hoppers and Snookie.
    • take Grandma's sewing machine to Hazel Dell Sew&Vac, and pick up a stair tool attachment and a Bissell style 8 HEPA filter.
    • fill the tank up with gas... $75.00
    • take the girls to the library
    • make a raspberry pie for dessert tomorrow
    • take Primigenitus' forgotten lunch over to the church where Steve dropped him off for the 2 performances today (he's Canon Chasuble -- the absentminded professor type in real life as well).
    • plant out Quarta's school cabbage project with her in the garden.  There had to be four square feet, or maybe it was sixteen square feet, we were a little unclear, but we found some space between the daffodils in the raised brick bed.  Quarta collects followers -- it's a good thing she's not on any social networking sites (except Webkinz).  We had a little neighborhood boy (I'll call him Bradley Carrot) following Quarta around, talking ninety to the dozen about boy stuff, mostly weapons and bugs.  I told him how to pick all the spent daffodil heads off to help the strength go back to the bulbs.  Next thing I knew he had daffodil numchuks sticking out of his fist.  I about lost it as I was planting the dill seeds that came attached to the box of Triscuits and I heard him pass by saying, "Fear my flower numchuks!"
    • finish the parent memo for the NLE.  It will get copied off Monday and I can fill in the blanks with the students' scores and put it in the parents' files sometime next week.  Oh yeah, next week is ERB testing.  That's going to mess with my schedule in ways I haven't thought out yet.
    • charge my cell phone.
    • do the ironing... at least enough of it for Steve and Primigenitus to get by next week.
    • tell Secundus to stop looking at gun videos.
    • finish grading the Latin quizzes.  Okay, this is not done yet.  Also not done yet:
    • clean the fish tank.  and the junk drawer.
    • finish the Farmer's Wife Quilt.  So close!
    • work on various other sewing and quilting projects.
    And with that I leave you, Randomday, to go play some more of my Civ IV "Rise of Mankind" game in which I am Empress Wu of the Chinese and it is the year 18 hundred something.  I have pursued a policy of peace and enlightenment throughout the game and am second only to the Ottomans, with whom I am on cordial terms.

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Kid updates

    Primigenitus is in a play this week.  He's also finished up his Senior thesis (a 9-page essay on leadership), his Senior project (a science fiction novella), and is taking off with Steve next week to visit his two college choices, at the end of which he will have to make his final decision and make his deposit.  Stress city, yes it is.  I've proofread both his writings and pronounced them good.  I maintain my right to favor my alma mater over the other school whenever the subject comes up.

    Secundus keeps stealing handfuls of the dried fruits I'm planning to put in the granola I haven't had a chance to make this week.  He has a hobbit-like appetite and believes in at least one snack per year of his age after dinner.  He's 15, and no, I don't think I'm exaggerating at all.

    Tertia had a rough day today, but she was very brave.  She had to have three baby teeth extracted, to make room for a few permanent teeth (she's missing several and will probably eventually need implants) to poke through before she has to start going to the orthodontist in a few more months.  She got out of school early and missed drama practice for this, and came home to the ultimate comfort video - Cinderella.  And soft food for dinner.  The Tooth Fairy sent her a note with her special package deal: a Webkinz of her choice and a trip with mom to pick it out.

    Quarta is, according to her own account, having a rough life.  She has been on the unloading/reloading the dishwasher chore for 2 weeks and holding because she can't do it without complaining at the top of her lungs.  It's a test of wills, and I'm most definitely not looking forward to next week with no backup.  And yes, she's almost 10 and should know better.

    And school... there's school tomorrow, and Grandparents' day, and a special assembly.  I have promised my 7th and 8th grade classes that we'll play Latin Jeopardy.  Sometime I have to finish grading the quizzes and writing the parent memos for the National Latin Exam results.  It would be preferable to do it before tomorrow morning.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    WIP Wednesday: Quilting and Knitting projects and progress

    I'm getting close to finishing the sashing job on the Farmer's Wife Quilt.
    This last week I dusted off the three boxes of pieces for my Jack's Chain quilt project.  Finishing half of the remaining piecing is my UFO for April.  It's a pretty pattern but has lots of set-in seams, which is why it's a UFO.
    On the whole, I prefer straight seams and quilts that go together quickly.  But I will try to persevere with this. 
    On the knitting front, I have decided to call my Rose Lace Stole "Lady MacBeth."  I love knitting with cashmere, but cobweb home-dyed cashmere that turns my hands bright pink after a few rows can get to be an endurance test.  I think I will add another 40 rows of the basic pattern before starting the lace (and beads hopefully) edging: this is about120 rows right here.  Then I have to do the same thing all over again from the provisional cast-on for the other side.
    I decided, spur of the moment, to start another shawl too.  This is Traveling Companion Shawl in some older fingering weight alpaca I found at an estate sale.  It is easier to knit with and doesn't turn my hands weird colors.

  • Farmer's Wife Quilt - about 75% done with sashing

  • March UFO knitting bag - no progress, shame on me.

  • April UFO Jack's Chain quilt - some progress

  • knitting Black Roses Stole - about 30% done.

  • cast on Traveling Companion Shawl

  • knitting cotton bath rug - no progress

  • knitting argyle-fest - no progress

  • spinning - small progress on blue Wensleydale

  • Startitis - I started the new shawl, but resisted the urge to start a new quilt project.  It's still there, though.  I want to start a new quilt project.  The fabric is calling me.

  • Linking up to Freshly Pieced... check out other people's work!

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Design Wall Monday - Jack's Chain

    This is the post every week where I snap a picture of whatever's on my design wall, or else have to 'fess up and say there's nothing going on.  I thought for most of last week that there would be no change in the design wall situation to report to The Patchwork Times linkup party, because I was in a very dark place of grading, data entry and lesson planning, and wasn't able to free up a single minute to take a single stitch all. week. long.  But thankfully that changed over the weekend and I was able to dust off my UFO for April, a Jack's Chain quilt I started a few years ago with my '30s reproductions (and a few authentic vintage fabrics) after finding the pattern in Maggie Malone's 1001 Patchwork Designs.  It's the closest I'm ever likely to come to one of the hexie quilts that are all the rage now, and I don't intend to do any English paper piecing at all.  I don't really love the process of piecing all those set-in seams, especially with my machine being stuck in the needle-down position, but a little at a time does the trick.  I spread the piecing of Jack's Chain out over 2 months -- this is the first month its number has been randomly chosen for the UFO project, so I just have to do half of the piecing.  Since I already have about half of the 9-patch units made and almost half of the other patches cut, I think it's doable.  We'll see, though!  My UFO for March is still waiting for me to start.

    On the lower right of the picture you can see the Farmer's Wife blocks that are still waiting to be sashed.  I've made good progress this weekend and I'm more than halfway there, but I haven't actually finished a quilt top or any knitting projects, so I have nothing to report in my weekly stash update.

    Stash report

    Fabric used this week: 0 yards
    Fabric used year to date: 23.6 yards
    Added this week: 0 yards

    Added year to date: 27.2 yards
    Net used for 2012: -3.6 yards (that is, 3.6 yards added)

    Yarn used this week: 0 yards

    Yarn used year to date: 1956 yards
    Yarn added this week: 0 yards
    Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
    Net used for 2012: 1464 yards

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Saturday is Randomday

    Dear Saturday,

    I do not like you as much as I did in the golden days of yore.  When did you become the day for chores and catching up and the tyranny of the urgent?  When did you stop being the day for fun and recreation and unstructured schedules, and become the junk drawer of the week?

    You were named after the original Time Lord -- not the funny one with the bowtie and the blue box, but Saturn/Kronos, the one with the scythe and the seriously dysfunctional family.  That's him in the "World's Best Dad" t-shirt, eating his kids.  And let's not even talk about what Freud would have to say about his relationship with his father.  My mythology book tells me he retired to Italy and his reign there was called the Golden Age.  Sounds like a nice gig to me, but somehow, this archetype for the Grim Reaper does not deliver as billed.  And just like the Grim Reaper, Saturday keeps tapping me on the shoulder and telling me it's time to come and do more stuff I'd rather not.  The worst of it is, it's all done in the guise of being a "golden day" when I can do what I want.  Ha!

    That's why I am appointing Saturday as "Randomday" on my blog.  Usually I try to craft a blog post that is coherent and well thought out, but Saturdays are not like that.  On Saturdays, the blog can eat leftovers, like them or not.
    Dear BlogHer: I marked your emails as "spam."  I know I signed up to get them, but that was when I thought you were actually giving useful tips to female bloggers.  I was really turned off, but too busy to write, when you sent something in February attacking the Susan G. Komen foundation and praising Planned Parenthood, as if there was no other possible position for any woman to take.  Then, a little later, you sent another email, again assuming unanimity among women on the subject of birth control and who should be required to pay for it, and particularly assuming all female bloggers would be opposed to any of the Republican presidential candidates.  And, by the way, I would like to reserve to myself the right to use the word "slut" if the occasion demands it, and I believe Rush Limbaugh was perfectly justified in doing so.  In your roundup of blog posts on the subject, you missed this one, which I think was the best of the lot.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    WIP Wednesday: Brought to you by the Spring Break Dishcloths

    A couple of years ago I created my own variation on the famous Peaches-n-Creme Ballband dishcloth.  I wrote it up as a pattern and it's on Ravelry.  For free... check it out!  My one and only published pattern!
    Whenever life seems too stressful for other kinds of knitting I put one of these on the needles, sometimes with different scraps and bits of cotton yarn, and sometimes even using intarsia.
    Sometimes I'll use a different dishcloth pattern altogether.  This is the Linoleum Dishcloth by Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting.  It's a really pretty pattern, but I can't seem to memorize it so I always have to look at the paper.
    And I keep coming back to my own pattern.  This much intarsia gets pretty tangly, but it's still a dead-simple knitting pattern and uses up scraps.  I like to have enough dishcloths made to give one to each teacher every year at Christmas.
    Other WIPs:
  • Farmer's Wife Quilt - about 30% done with sashing - see it here.

  • March UFO knitting bag - no progress, but still in my sewing area and I will get to it.  Someday.

  • April UFO Jack's Chain quilt - no progress, but I'm thinking about it.

  • knitting Black Roses Stole - about 25% done, I need to buy a really tiny crochet hook for the beads I want to add.

  • knitting cotton bath rug - no progress

  • knitting argyle-fest - no progress

  • spinning - I have not done any spinning for 2 weeks.

  • Startitis - I really want to start a bunch of stuff.  Now that Spring break is over and my grading is done for 3rd quarter, maybe I can.  I'm dreaming of another shawl and at least 2 or 3 different quilt projects.

  • Linking up to Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Design Wall Monday and Stash Report

    We're back from Spring break at Lake Tahoe.  Thanks to my dad for providing lodging at the timeshare, and Grandma Deb for being our social secretary.  Ice skating was a little more affordable than skiing or snowboarding.  We liked skiing, but one day was enough for us.  Maybe we'll all try again sometime.  It was a bit of a surprise to return home late Friday to all the Spring weather.  Our daffodils are just beautiful.
    This is me trying not to fall.  My skating was a little bit better than my skiing but I have the same trouble in both sports -- no leg muscles to speak of, so no endurance.  Steve has the muscles and I have the balance and dexterity (a little).  Combine both of us and we'd be a good athlete!
    My Farmer's Wife Quilt is a little bit further along than last update.  About 1/4 of the blocks are sashed now.  I'm going to start taking it off the design wall as it's sewn together.  I desperately want to start a new quilting project but I'm trying to make myself finish the things that are out first.  I also need to do a big stack of grading and lesson planning, sigh.

    Stash Report:
    My Aunt Carol has sabotaged my attempt to reduce fabric stash!! She sent a bag with about 16 yards of fabric she cleaned out of her stash with Deb to Tahoe.  I will have to see if I can get my mother-in-law to take enough of it to get me back into positive numbers again.  Plus if I finish up the FWQ or some other projects I can count that.

    Fabric used this week: 0 yards
    Fabric used year to date: 23.6 yards
    Added this week: 16 yards from Aunt Carol

    Added year to date: 27.2 yards
    Net used for 2012: -3.6 yards (that is, 3.6 yards added)

    Yarn used this week: 340 yards for 4 dishcloths
    Yarn used year to date: 1956 yards
    Yarn added this week: 0 yards
    Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
    Net used for 2012: 1464 yards

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    Random Roundup of Spring Break

    We're back from our Spring Break trip to Lake Tahoe, and skiing (and snowboarding) at the Heavenly resort there.  That was one day; our bodies and budget gave out before a second day.  I would ski again, but at the rate of one lesson a year, I'll be retirement age before I get good enough to go down a real hill.
    Virginia City: great Old West town, ultra-kitschy, and of course no restaurants without a casino attached.  The one we ate lunch at was the closest to a family-friendly place, but when the inevitable trip to the bathroom occurred the sign said to go through the connecting door to the back of the casino.  So I took Tertia past blinking lights, whirling slot machines and (I think) the famous Suicide Table to the Ladies' room.  Now, Tertia has above all other things a phobia of automatic flushing toilets, so her first act in any public restroom is to check the toilets to see if they have the dreaded blinking sensor.  She saw they were "regular" toilets and said, "Whew! Regular toilets!  I'm so happy.  Mommy, this is just like church!"  "No, dear, this is most definitely NOT like church."

    The pastor of the Presbyterian Church in South Lake Tahoe -- looks exactly like my mental conception of Fflewdur Fflam from the Prydain chronicles.

    Speaking of Presbyterians... did you know there was a Presbyterian bucket list?  In Virginia City the 1st Presbyterian Church had a sign on it to indicate it was 301st on the list of American Presbyterian and Reformed historic sites.  I need to look up this list sometime.

    We went ice skating on Wednesday and Thursday -- at least, we all went Wednesday and the girls and Steve went Thursday.  There was a problem with the skates -- the cheap blue plastic ones pinched Secundus' feet so badly he has huge blisters.  He did well skating though.  I had forgotten how hard ice is when you fall on it.  Ow, my poor knee.  Quarta is loving ice skating and wanting to go again soon, and Grandma Deb can skate backwards.

    We all have disreputable-looking sunburns from our day on the slopes.  Steve's forehead is an angry red but the rest of his face is fine.  Primigenitus looks like he has a very red 5 o'clock shadow, Secundus has a red unibrow and mustache, Quarta has a falcon-like v-shaped pattern on her forehead where her goggles left off.  I have a little v between my eyes.

    The girls and I went swimming in the snow Saturday night (I did one lap in the heated pool and then moved to the hot tub -- it was fun to hear the snowflakes sizzling as the melted into the water).  Going back to the room was not as bad as I thought it would be, and we went swimming/ hot tubbing for the next several nights even when the temperatures were in the 30s and 40s.

    Vacation audiobooks were limited: we haven't quite finished Loamhedge, by Brian Jacques and a full cast.  But that has inspired a reading contest between Primigenitus and Quarta: read all the Redwall books in chronological order according to this list.  Primigenitus, who is nostalgic for the reading lists of his vanishing childhood, must read them all; Quarta can skip the ones she's already read.  I also read aloud several chapters of The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer, which is really good and we ordered it from Amazon because it was on hold for someone else at the library.

    Various family members watched quite a few movies while hanging out at the condo -- Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Enchanted (twice!), The Princess and the Frog, He Walked by Night, Harry Potter (various numbers), and Rio (the one with the blue parrots).  Tertia always dances to the closing credits.

    I fell back on my vacation knitting standard: my ballband dishcloth variation.  I finished 4 dishcloths and nothing else this vacation.  And my Aunt Carol sent a big stack of fabric that I will have to add to my stash account, which will probably tip it into the red.

    When the boys packed up the dirty clothes on the floor of their room they gathered in at least three baby socks, none of them matching, that must have been left there by a previous occupant.  We discovered them today while doing laundry.  It's really funny because I found another baby sock (not matching any of the other three) when I did my last check before leaving yesterday morning.  I can just picture the little toddler throwing socks all over the floor of the room.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Ski School Dropout

    I knew I was in trouble from the second the boots went on.  They hold the foot in a really weird way, and you have to walk with a kind of swagger, legs cocked, as you attempt to carry your skis and meet up with your lesson group.  It must look a bit like a T-Rex, or one of those insectoid aliens.  The pain started in my calves very quickly, and the only way to get any relief was to lean forward or sit down. But I soldiered through and my form wasn't too bad.  The only time I fell was when my skis crossed while I was going up the bunny lift holding onto the handle.  I can control my speed and stop, which is important.  But the muscle fatigue was so bad by the early afternoon that I never really learned to turn, which is also pretty important in skiing.  I graduated from kindergarten to grade school pretty fast, and topped out somewhere around 5th or 6th grade.  At that point, I didn't care whether I got to ride a real lift anymore, because the pain was so bad.  Steve and I decided we'd gotten our money's worth out of our half-day lessons and we'd quit with a bit of dignity.  I'm afraid I sobbed on the way back to the gondola, which probably negated any dignity I had left.  It just hurt so much.  The boot fit fine, it's just the way my muscles had to work.  At the base of the gondola I made Steve help me take my boots off and walked sockfooted to the ski rental return.  The relief was immediate.  Those boots are torture devices.  I was so glad to put on human shoes again!

    The rest of the family did fine.  Steve has the muscle mass for skiing, but still has trouble stopping.  Primigenitus, who was in our lesson group, was brave enough to go on the Big Easy run twice, and Secundus was off with Grandma and Grandpa snowboarding all the time.  He's had two ski days before.  Tertia and Quarta went to kids' ski school and did fine -- we had gone to the trouble of getting Tertia's doctor to fax a release form and talking to the supervisors beforehand and they had no problem including her with the regular classes.  She just had a notation on her pass that said "high functioning Down syndrome" and "must stay with sister."  She was fine.  She doesn't have any pain today, which is a lot more than I can say!  Quarta is ready to zoom through level 2 and 3 of ski school next time, but ski school is expensive so there won't be a next time this trip.  Somewhere, there are pictures of Secundus, Tertia and Quarta but I don't have the ability to retrieve them to share yet.

    We did have some lovely snow Saturday.  I have been swimming with the girls in the snow that night and every night since (although after the first night I stuck to the hot tub).

    Today we went to Virginia City and Primigenitus bought a Bat'leth.  Well, a mini Bat'leth.  They sell these repro Klingon swords at a little shop that also has fine Kashmir scarves and paisley shawls.  I told Primigenitus he was a geek, but I have to admit, a Klingon sword would have appealed to me at his age too.  The small size of this one makes it more appropriate for Klingon Barbie, if such a thing exists, or it could be used for slicing and dicing to make gakh -- a Klingon chef's knife!  With those mental images I leave you.