Archive for May, 2009

Oops, forgot the pictures!

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Eating Today’s Second Lunch…

Friday, May 29th, 2009

After swim lessons, the girls and I usually treat ourselves to lunch at
Panera, which is just across the hall from Foss. I've loved Panera ever
since I lived in St. Louis, where it goes by the name of St. Louis Bread
Company.

The only thing I don't love about our local Panera is the overly
aggressive bussing staff. The hover constantly, asking again and again
if they can take your bowl/plate/mug. They also tend not to respond well
when asked to just leave us alone for the remainder of our meal – I've
had to do that multiple times, as my girls start to worry that someone
is going to take their food before they're done.

The reason Julie and Sophie worry so much about this is that the staff
here have actually taken their food away without asking on occasion.
Very frustrating, and I tend to look and feel like an ass when I
complain, because Panera is doing a socially-conscious thing in hiring
mentally-challenged folks to bus their tables.

Today when we sat down for our lunch and had barely started eating, and
Sophie announced a dire need to visit the Ladies' room (albiet not in
quite such polite terms and despite her visit not ten minutes earlier),
I knew that our meal was in danger of being gone before we came back.
Despite the urgency of Sophie's need, I sought out one of the bus staff,
told her that we were going to the ladies' and would be right back, so
please leave our food on the table for us.

And, of course, when we returned, the food was gone and the table newly
wiped down. The girls immediately started to panic, but luckily I had
already made up my mind that the counter staff was going to give us new
food in this case. So they did, and now we are just finishing up our
second lunch of the day.

A Tale of Two Scarves, Completed

Friday, May 29th, 2009

And nobody loses their head in this story!

But then again, the two heroes of our story aren’t exactly look-alikes. I’m a bit of a fan of Charles Dickens.

A few nights ago, I enlisted some help from my two favorite models for a little scarfy photo-shoot. Before I could get them to follow my orders, I had to follow theirs. They wanted a picture of themselves with the little stuffed animals our neighbor from behind us gave them that day – this is a neighbor I don’t usually refer to, because he’s a quiet guy that I don’t see all that much, but like most of my other neighbors, he’s very nice. Oh, and Julie was also showing off the Frog visor she made at school. I think it’s supposed to help scare the bugs away for the summer.

It took a bit of work to set up this first shot. It’s kind of hard to direct children who don’t yet clearly understand the difference between right and left. Plus, as soon as I’d get one of them in the right position, the other one would have moved. But we had a lot of fun getting there.

I love how grown up and fashionable they look

Moving on to the individual details…

This is the Raspberry Rhapsody scarf from the Knitter’s Book of Yarn knit with two skeins of Artyarns Beaded Cashmere.

I can’t remember what size needle I used exactly – I have the memory of a gnat. Maybe a six? Turns out it’s a very nice length for a decorative scarf, and it feels very nice around the neck.

As cute as she is in it, Sophie will not be wearing it on a regular basis. I don’t think I will ever spend so much again on such a small amount of yarn. It’s a very nice scarf, but I am just not the kind of girl used to spending that much money on a scarf.

I really enjoyed this pattern, by the way. It was a bit technically complicated – not a very memorizable stitch pattern, so I was chained to the row-by-row instructions for the whole project. Which was okay because it was a great foil for the easier knitting with the other scarf.

And here comes Julie with scarf number two. That pose is all her own.

This is my own two-ply handspun yarn made from 8 ounces of Mountain Colors Targhee roving. I knit it up in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s One-Row Handspun scarf, which is really a single-row pattern that is so easy it’s a little silly.

And yet, it makes a very nice reversible non-rolling scarf.

Especially when combined with the slowly, randomly shifting colors of the handspun yarn.

I still have no idea who is going to end up wearing this one, but it’s nice having it in the potential gift-giving pool.

More Housewifey Stuff

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Oh, friends. Thanks for all the support with the judgey stuff. I really wasn’t looking for all that, but it’s nice nonetheless. Really, I was talking to the turkeys with the judgey comments. Wanna know what’s really funny? The one additional judgey comment that came from that last post? The nice, dear lady sent her e-mail directy to me so it could be “private”.

I was so tempted to copy and paste the e-mail here and really piss her off, but it’s not worth the effort. Count yourself lucky, Marguerite.

Instead, I’m going to follow up with a perfect example of how what y’all see on the blog is less than the whole story.

That hateful old biddy from next door totally earned her title. I shared the story here on the blog when it happened, and I’m too lazy to dig through old posts and give you a link, but if you’re really curious you can go find it. She stood in *my* yard while I was holding my mixed-race baby and told me how wrong mixed-race marriages are. That, and that alone is plenty of a reason for me to never want to speak to her again. Just for kickers, I’ll share that every conversation I ever had with her involved her criticizing everyone else she comes in contact with, then smiling at me and pumping me for information. And because I’m close with all our other neighbors, I know that she took that information and ran around the neighborhood trying to dish dirt on me. I’ll call her a hateful old biddy on my blog if I damned well please. And the fact that she is so bitter and mean? Just makes it easier for me to laugh at her lawn ornament collection, which actually I kind of find amusing, tacky as it is.

Let’s move on to some other minutia from my oh-so-exciting life.

We’ve had a little ant problem every spring since we moved into this house. Every spring, the ants wake up, rediscover some crack in the outside wall of our kitchen, and swarm in to enjoy the buffet under our kitchen table. Considering that we’ve had small children since day one, there is always a nice buffet going on down there. Fighting the ant invasion has become an annual sport around here. Every other year, I’ve done my best to wipe down the floor after meals, and I’ve used a non-toxic orange-based spray to help confuse their sense of smells and keep them away. It worked fairly well, but I also ended up squashing a lot of the tiny little pests.

Now that the kids are old enough to fully understand the concept of hey-I’m-putting-some-dangerous-chemicals-over-here-on-the-floor-don’t-eat-them. I decided to try a trick I read about a long time ago and was afraid to try. A line of Borax powder along the wall where they crawled in.

Works like a charm! I’ve seen hardly a single ant since I laid it down a month ago. And I’ve been less than perfect about cleaning up the breakfast crumbs.

Moving on, look what I found for dinner at the co-op the other day.

I’d never had morel mushrooms before, and there was a swarm of customers oohing and ahhing over them, so I decided to grab a few for myself. Everyone there said to slice them up and sautee them in butter, so that’s what I did. They were incredibly tasty, but unfortunately a bit gritty – I’d wiped them down with damp paper towels like all the gourmet chefs suggest instead of washing them under water the way I normally do all my mushrooms. I was right, they are wrong. I’d rather have a tiny bit less flavor and no grit. The asparagus was good too.

On to the next item – something I definitely didn’t find at the co-op. This is totally an anti-co-op type product. In the beauty aisle at the co-op you find all kinds of natural products with no petro-chemicals, instead containing things like beeswax and shea butter and tea tree oil. I love the idea of all that.

However, my face likes this stuff. I’ve been using this brand of moisturizer since I had that horrible face rash a while back. I’ve always had trouble with sunscreen on my face because pretty much every sunscreen I’ve tried either gave me a rash or burned. This stuff is crazy hypo-allergenic, and 60 SPF is exactly what my insanely pale skin needs. I’m going to finally get in the habit of wearing sunscreen on a daily basis.

I know you’re sick of hearing me brag about my awesome neighbors, but I saw this scene the other night and melted a bit.

The kids were playing with this airplane toy that one of the neighbor boys was sharing. The hill across the street was perfect for gliding it off.

And finally, a yummy yummy dinner from another night last week. My neighbor M shared her recipe for chicken satays and peanut sauce. This was easy, kid-friendly and delicious.

I thought I was going to find a very-similar recipe online and just link to it, but all the ones on my usual favorite sites were more complicated, and this one is so perfect you really need it. I’ll take a picture of the recipe and post it soon, I promise! Yum Yum Yum!

Tomorrow, a knitting post about scarves. It’s already written and scheduled to post. Pinkie swear.

Go Ahead and Judge…

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I have to tell you that I've gotten several judgey comments over the
last few days, and I can't help but respond a bit to them. So, in no
particular order, here are a few responses that have been rattling
through my head:

A) who the hell do you think you are, and what the hell do you think you
know about my actual life, my actual situation, my thought process, my
family, anything of importance really? That's a rhetorical question by
the way.

B)well, there are a bunch more, but A really does suffice.

Whew! Meanwhile, guess what I've gone and done…picked up a new laptop
to replace the ever-more-rapidly-failing old one. Details soon once I've
got it all set up, plus maybe something of actual knitting-related
interest (see blob between computers in photo)

Go ahead and think what you want, see if I care…

Housewifey Stuff

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I have a bunch of random non-knitting related stuff I’ve been meaning to throw up, so brace yourself – here it comes.

For Mother’s Day, Joe got me an awesome new knife. It’s a ceramic chef’s knife from Kyocera. I wanted one after I read about them on Samurai Knitter Julie’s blog a while back.

I love having a good, sharp knife. Chop, chop! I’ve only had it for a couple weeks now, but so far so good. It’s very nice. Now let’s hope I don’t drop it on the floor or find some other way to break it.

***

Look how cute these girls look using their little stencils and pencils and markers to make pretty pictures. Don’t they look just like sweet little angels?

Yeah, and ten minutes later, one trip by me out of the room for five of them the stencils, pencils, markers and paper are all over the floor, and nobody knows how they got there. Oh, I love my children, yes I do.

***

Last weekend we did the semi-annual wardrobe switcharoo around here. It’s finally warm enough for summer clothes more days than not. When I pulled out the Crocs from last year, it was clear that we had none for Sophie. Julie’s hand-me-downs covered the sizes above and below the one that currently fits Sophie’s feet. Damn!

We went on a search for new Crocs, which turned out to be a little more difficult than the last time around. Long story short, after three other stores and two other malls, we ended up at the Maul of America. This was my first trip to the MOA with the girls sans stroller, and WOW! They did just fine.

I wasn’t planning on buying new Crocs for Julie because I was thinking that hers fit just fine. But then as I was helping Sophie try on her new ones, I glanced over and noticed Julie’s toes sticking out of the holes of her old ones. New shoes all around, and a couple new sets of Jibbitz too.

Do we care about the fact that my kids are wearing new pairs of ugly but very comfortable and versatile summer shoes? No, I thought not.

***
We had another little neighborly dinner party last weekend. It totally rocked. I never can get over how great my neighbors are. We had this spontaneous idea to get together for a potluck centering around barbecue ribs, and three days later there we are feasting and hanging out together.

The budding young saxophonist from across the street gave us a little concert over dessert, and the little ones even did some dancing along with him.

And then the super-cool kicked in. We sent the whole pack of kids out to the yard to run around (little ones supervised by big ones). The grown-ups got a good 20 minutes of adult conversation while we watched the kids’ antics out the bay window.

I swear I live in a Norman Rockwell painting.

***

Except at the moment, because we are in the middle of a crazy construction scene right now. Here’s a picture of my roof yesterday afternoon. See the pretty new chimney up there? That’s a $2500 new toy, so I did my best to enjoy it. We knew we needed to rebuild the chimney when we moved into the house, and since we have to replace the roof due to last year’s hail damage, the time is perfect to get it over with.

Then, this morning at the crack of dawn, a giant dumpster appeared in our driveway, a work crew arrived to tear off the old shingles…

And make a crazy mess while they were at it…

And by this afternoon, they were already bangin’ on the new shingles

Those guys worked hard, and at this point they’re close to finished with the roofs of both the house and the garage. Hopefully the neverending noise will actually end some time around noon tomorrow.

***

Hey, look! I’m doing another tiny little bit of my own part to keep the earth healthy or something. I’m finally putting my ugly laundry line that came with the house to good use. Now that the weather is bearable, I’m really going to try to use my dryer as little as possible this summer.

I feel so warm and fuzzy inside. I just hope my family doesn’t rebel at the somewhat stiffer fabric and whatever other issues they might come up with related to clothes dried in the wholesome fresh air.

****
While I was out taking pictures, I snuck a couple new photos of the house next door. It’s even more insane than last year.

Oh, the tacky! Do you see the two geese statues there on the porch? They have many different outfits to wear depending on the season and weather.

Don’t even get me started on the hateful old biddy that lives inside.

****

And finally, for those of you who are still here after all my little ramblings. The beginnings of a new knitting project. More on that next time.

A Spinning Answer

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

My spinning has slowed down just a bit since I finished that first project on Earl – I mean, it sort of had to since I’d been spinning pretty much nonstop for the week since he arrived. Now, I’ve moved on to that pound of luscious alpaca, which is wonderful, but not very interesting for blog purposes. I’ll spare you from that for the moment.

In the mean time, lucky me – I got a very good question from reader Missy.

I was wondering if it’s possible to spin a ‘balanced’ single ply yarn? What would you recommend, as far as reading, or practical info regarding this?

Well, to be honest, I’ve never created a single ply yarn without then going on to ply it before finishing and knitting it. This is something that I’d really like to change. Maybe after I finish my pound of alpaca, I’ll pull a smaller chunk out and experiment with spinning and knitting it as singles. Because really one can’t claim any sort of expertise in a thing without firsthand experience start to finish.

Luckily, and this is something that I find translates well into all areas of spinning that I’ve delved into so far, I have lots of experience with knitting different yarns. Even luckier is that I still have some of that yarn laying around and a knitted object or two as examples for photos.

First, some crazy quirky sock yarn, which I knit for the first time a few years ago and liked so much that I bought another skein when I saw the seller again at Shepherd’s Harvest a year later. It’s Sandy’s Palette Pair of Sox, and the socks I’m showing you are Jaywalkers that I made about three years ago and have been wearing regularly ever since.

If we look at this yarn a little closer, we see that it’s a highly energized single. See all the little kinks in the skein? I bet they were much more pronounced before this yarn was washed to set the twist.

This yarn is clearly, clearly unbalanced. If I recall correctly, those little kinks were slightly annoying while I was knitting the socks. I’ll admit it. That said, this yarn made some awesome socks.

All that twist in one direction makes for some cool stitch definition. The fabric is sproingy and warm. We need that twist to hold the fibers together, especially for hard-wearing socks. Mine are in great condition, well, pretty good condition – the heels are getting a little threadbare after something like 100 wears or so.

Okay, and here’s the opposite end of the spectrum on the singles yarn front.

This is what’s left of that Mini Mochi I knit up into a sample pair of socks a couple months ago. This yarn comes just about as close to balanced as a singles yarn can get without being roving. But that’s because it almost *is* still roving. I know I mentioned in my post about those socks that I actually had to add some twist to the yarn as I was knitting along just to keep the wool from drifting apart. And yet, there were other spots where I had to deal with the annoying kink-back business that I dealt with in the Sandy’s Palette skein.

So, obviously, for socks, don’t even dream about a “balanced” singles yarn. Those Mini Mochi socks will last for less than 20 wearings before they get their first hole, I’m guessing. But what if you’re less obsessed with socks than I happen to be, and you want to knit a sweater or a lace shawl with singles?

Well, about a year ago I knit a sweater out of Nashua’s Wooly Stripes yarn. It’s a singles, with just a little more twist than the Mochi – enough to hold the wool together throughout, little enough so that I had to deal only with minimal kinking. It’s fine yarn. Very soft. It’s wearing pretty well, although it certainly has its share of pills. It’s a soft wool, maybe merino – which is going to give you pills even in a 3-ply, so who knows what to say.

So. Back to the question. Can you spin a balanced single? Technically, no. By definition, all the twist is one direction. But I’m here to argue that unbalanced is not necessarily a horrible thing, and that even if it looks incredibly unbalanced on the wheel, once it’s washed, it will relax quite a bit and settle down enough to knit with. Just make sure to spin it enough to cross the line from roving on into yarn.

All of the above comes straight out of my you-know-where. I’m sure I’ve read a thing or five in the many spinning books I’ve skimmed, but I can’t remember what or where, and I’m too lazy to go dig them out and do the research again right now.

Thanks for the awesome question, Missy!

A Tale of Two Scarves

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I have not knit all that many scarves over the years – maybe a handful or two. I don’t have a special reason for avoiding them, really – other than lack of a passionate calling to knit them, or a particular love of wearing them. I mean, a good warm scarf in the winter is pretty much a necessity around here, and over the last few years, I’ve been warming up (yuk yuk) to the idea of wearing a pretty scarf to liven up a boring t-shirt.

The only thing I really have against scarves as a knitting project is all that flipping back and forth, and the longer the project gets the more annoying it can be to deal with the thing danging and twisting. Small irritants, really, and no real reason to avoid them overall.

Still, it’s a bit of an odd coincidence that the only real knitting (plain socks don’t count!) I have on the needles around here is a pair of two very different scarves.

I’ve mentioned this first one here before – I cast on for it months ago and have knit on it sporadically between other projects or when I needed some easy at-home knitting. It’s the Yarn Harlot’s One-Row Handspun Scarf pattern, which is easy as pie, knit in my own two-ply spun from Mountain Colors Targhee wool.

It’s getting quite long, obviously. But it’s also a bit on the narrow side for a warm outerwear scarf, so it will probably be worn doubled. In which case long is good. I still have maybe a third of the yarn left, and I keep meditating on whether to call it a day on the scarf and make a matching hat or mittens. So far, my gut keeps telling me that long is good and to stick with the thing a while longer. I just hope I’ll find someone to wear it when it’s done.

Now this second scarf – it has its own little story. I bought some insanely expensive Artyarns beaded silk-cashmere last year for my birthday. This yarn is beautiful. It is gorgeous. I have had it on my desk since then, petting it and admiring it on a regular basis. I’ve been looking for the perfect pattern to knit with it ever since.

Trouble is, first it was very short yardage – a total of only 230 for the two skeins. Second, you pat that kind of money for some yarn, and it sets the expectations for the finished product pretty high. Higher, in fact, than I would expect the satisfaction of a handknit scarf to reach on my own personal expectation meter. Which actually, once accepted, tends to take some of the pressure off if you can understand the futility of it.

The right time to knit it up finally came. I finished the sweater project I’d been working on, and figured it couldn’t possibly take very long to knit up 230 yards of yarn into a scarf – it would make a nice little snack-sized project before I dip into the next big one. I scanned back through all the patterns I’d favorited, flipped through all the books I remembered as containing a potential perfect pattern. Aside from intuitive appeal, I was mostly looking for a very open lace design (to stretch the yarn as far as possible) with a visually defined pattern that would off-set the static of the hand painted colors.

I settled on Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s Raspberry Rhapsody Scarf from The Knitters’ Book of Yarn. At the end of the first skein, it’s about fifteen inches long semi-blocked, so it’s going to be quite short, but definitely long enough to wear either tied or secured with a shawl-pin. I promise it’s much prettier in person – the sparkly clear crystal beads make it almost into a piece of jewelry. It’s going to be nice, especially if while I’m wearing it I can manage to forget how much the yarn cost. :-)

Spinning

Friday, May 15th, 2009

I’ve got two finished spinning projects to report! Two at a time! It’s crazy!

I hurried up to finish this first rainbow striping stuff the night before Earl arrived, but then once Earl was here, I was too busy blogging abut and bonding with him to report it.

I started with eight ounces of awesomely dyed roving from Vines on etsy. It’s an interesting fiber blend of 60% superwash merino, 25% mohair and 15% nylon. It came in two 4-ounce chunks, which I split down the middle, tried to spin evenly, then navajo-plied to keep the colors intact. I ended up with 289 and 346 yards respectively, which means that I didn’t do a very good job of keeping my singles the same width. One skein could pass as sport weight, the other one is pushing worsted. Neither is really enough on its own to make a pair of socks.

For some reason, this yarn is begging me to make it into a baby sweater or maybe some pants.

The second batch is my first spinning on Earl. I had eight ounces of hand painted organic merino from Spunky Eclectic. I went a little nuts when she finally updated her store a while back, and this was one of the things that showed up in the box when I opened it.

I love this colorway, but it’s not at all something I can wear. I look horrible in black. What was I thinking? Except maybe it was worth it just to watch the colors come together while I plied.

I managed to spin a little more consistently on this project, and the yarn is overall a bit finer two-ply – a light fingering weight. It came out to 990 yards, which could make a good-sized shawl or even a sweater. I feel like a salesperson, but it could be yours for $75 if you want it. I really wish it were my colors, because it’s smooth and squishy and quite soft.

I think I’m going to take a couple of days off spinning now, because my hands are doing that repetitive stress injury thing. That, and I want to focus on the little crazy lace project I’ve been working on. Next up, though, is the giant pile of alpaca I bought at Shepherd’s Harvest. I’ll be using Rosie for this one, mostly because I have more bobbins for her than for Earl.

Back to Earl for a minute, though. I really feel like I got to know him a bit this past week. It took a bit to get in the habit of starting the wheel in the right direction smoothly, and I have to oil him in different spots and more often than Rose. The drive band broke a couple of days in – he came with what looked like a flax twine, and I scrambled around for a moment before downloading instructions from the internet and digging out some fine crochet cotton as a replacement. It’s working fine now, and the process gave me a little more confidence in my ability to take care of this machine in the long run. I’m even more happy with the purchase at this point, and pretty sure that I’ll use it as more than a piece of decoration.

Shepherd’s Harvest, and Stuff

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

I spent the day at Shepherd’s Harvest as planned. It was at least as much fun as I’d hoped, perhaps even better. I came home this afternoon happy and exhausted from the wild, woolly fun.

My class was first thing this morning, and despite the chilly weather and working in an unheated concrete-floored barn, I had a lot of fun teaching a full class of ten enthusiastic knitters. It was a bit of a whirlwind fitting the material into the three hours allocated. I couldn’t believe how whip-smart and enthusiastic those ladies were! Thanks for a great class, ladies!

I rushed over to the Ravelry meetup, where I got to put a bunch of names and faces together, and I met up with some good friends who were there for the day as well. By the time that was over, I was starving, so I found the food cart that sells the awesome wrap sandwich I had last year – barbecue pulled pork and creamy coleslaw together in a tortilla – oh my!

And then I got to go run amok in the vendor barns. One of the first things I saw was this glorious display of Jensen wheels. I even got to chat with Mr. Jensen himself for a few minutes after I admired his tensioned lazy kates. Maybe I can save up my pennies and buy one eventually – but I’ll probably have to order a custom one to fit my Majacraft bobbins.

Okay, and this is a little snarky, but I felt a little superior standing there in front of the beautifully carved, very expensive wheels knowing that I have an even more beautifully carved, very inexpensive wheel sitting in my living room. Still, Jensen wheels are incredibly beautiful, and I didn’t even consider sitting down to spin on one because that would be dangerous.

Later in the day, I saw this sight.

Do you know what that is? If so, I’m guessing you’ve already been over to the Rainey’s blog. That, or you are really smart and/or well-informed. This lady is spinning yarn directly off of her Angora bunny, which is happily cuddled in her lap. Joe and I already have had the discussion more than once – I’m not allowed to have a bunny. Alas.

The good news is that I did bring several very nice items home with me. First, a Mother’s Day gift for my MIL – a very pretty mug from Jennie the Potter.

MIL SO better like this mug, because it is beautiful and feels really nice in the hands.

And then there was roving, roving, and more wonderful roving. I knew from the Shepherd’s Harvest vendor webpage that Cloudlover was going to be there selling her lovlies, and that was one stop I’d already planned for. I’ve worked with her roving before, and she does a grrrreat job of dying beautiful colors without felting the roving at. all. Go buy some of her stuff one etsy. I’ve got my share for the time being.

This is two very similar colorways, one on Falkland wool top and the other on Merino. I’m planning to spin them up and ply them together once they’ve fully marinated in the stash.

Next is a giant hank of BFL from Frabjous Fibers. I think I bought this from the Celestial Designs booth, and she had a huge rack of this stuff, all of them beautiful. It was crazy-hard picking out just one.

This is also super-soft and fluffy. It is so nice getting to buy roving in person, touching it first and getting an idea of what it’s going to feel like to draft. I hate trying to spin felty wool.

At this point, I really thought I had enough take-home goodies, but then I stopped by Kim Leach’s booth. She had this fabulous little hank of superwash merino that will make some lovely stripey sock yarn and it was only $12. Buying this one was a no-brainer.

And then I was totally convinced that I was finished buying fiber. Really. I’d satisfied my new-fiber craving. But there were so many wool fumes floating around, and I accidentally wandered into the Enchanted Meadows booth and my hand brushed against the piles of alpaca roving.

Yeah, and they only sell it by the pound. But it is soooooo soft and fluffy. I think this will be my next spinning project.

And that was pretty much it. I grabbed the obligatory bag of kettle corn and my close friend and neighbor and drove on home to crash and recover from the excitement.

Now on to the Stuff…all totally random I tell you.

My computer has been getting wonkier and wonkier lately. I’ll be happily working or playing on it, and then it locks up doing this:

My super-smart computer-dude hubby says he thinks the video card is going bad. Probably. I think he’s probably right (I used to be a super-smart computer dudette not sooo very long ago.) The question is what to do about it. I can keep using it and hope it doesn’t get too much worse too quickly. It’s a three-year-old machine, so the warranty is long gone. Is it worth the hassle of trying to send it off to be fixed, probably coming back with all of my data and software gone and have to fix it all again? Or would it be better to hold off as long as possible and then fall into the throw-away consumer trap of just buying a new machine, hoping that it works better than this thang? I have no answers, just more questions. Very frustrating. I think I need to spend even less time using my computer and more time using my pretty spinning wheels.

Uncle Dave came over to watch the girls for a while the other day. They wrangled him into some arts-and-crafts projects, and this is the way I found them when I came home. Sophie had made a monster mask, and Julie made a series of crowns.

I finished another pair of plain-jane socks last week. These seemed to drag on forever, probably because I tagged along other projects with me on-the-go instead of sticking exclusively with the socks.

Joe agreed to take some pictures of them for me as usual, and I told him to go ahead and do it while I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes. Like the wonderful husband he is, he got down near the floor and took some shots for me.

And then he stood up, looked at the preview screen on the camera and shook his head. “These aren’t any good. You can see the sand (from the sandbox) all over the floor.” So I took a look at the preview screen and had two thoughts. First, it’s a great view of the socks, and second, this is exactly how my kitchen floor looks almost all summer long, even with regular sessions with the broom. The photos are fine. Right?

Here’s part of the collection of allergy medicine on my kitchen counter this week. Everyone but Julie is suffering from the seasonal allergies big-time.

Poor little Sophie has been rubbing her eyes constantly, and one day last week her eyes were almost swollen shut. That, and we’re all really snotty. I’m a big baby about it, Sophie is in denial (getting her to blow her nose is a big fight, but then when she finally does the results are amazing), and Joe is his usual stoic self. Julie is just suffering the secondary effects of crabby mom and little sister who is getting way too much sympathy. Damn trees and their springtime sexual frenzy.

Oh, and the girls love to pick dandelions.

Good thing we have plenty of them in our yard.

And finally, a couple of totally gratuitous swimming-lesson pictures.

I love those cheezy smiles.