Samstag, September 29, 2007

This Just In:

September Snow

Photo taken in my backyard 9/29/07 at 1:22 p.m.

Knitters, but not much knitting

I just bought a Perri Klass book. No, not Two Sweaters for My Father. I bought Klass's Quirky Kids: Understanding And Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit in. I hadn't even bothered with who the author was, so I was startled to recognize a name familiar to me from the knitting world.

I bought the book because I have interesting grandkids. One, who is in a program for gifted students at school, makes faces and can't stand still when on the spot in front of a group. One can't deal with change, and throws loud tantrums when faced with new experiences. My kids were interesting as children, too, but I didn't have a book to help me deal with a 3-year-old who sat reading a book while the friend invited to a play date played with the toys alone, or the teenager who sat on the roof for privacy--contemplating suicide, as I later learned.

I'm not even sure I recognized my kids' quirks as odd, possibly because of my own childhood. I had hidden under beds and high in treetops to get free time to read. I had been kicked out of religious instruction classes because of inappropriate social behaviors such as constant talking and climbing out of windows when bored. In fact, I made faces and couldn't stand still when on the spot in front of a group.

Luckily my children are all still alive, seem reasonably happy, and are living productive lives. But I am interested to see that there are suggestions these days for helping interesting kids mesh with society. One daughter is using Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communications Problems to help her child adjust to kindergarten. A niece (scroll to her entry for January 4th) recently testified before Congress on the importance of funding for home schooling when schools fail the quirky child. The idea behind these programs is not to iron out the quirks, but to help the child learn to fit into society comfortably without having to become someone else.

I think being quirky helps people be more creative. In our crew, all but one of my kids knits, and that one paints, embroiders and sews. We have architects; we have graphic artists ranging from painting to woodcarving; some of us are musicians, including both rock and classical performers (how about a bagpiper and an opera singer?*), composers, and a conductor; most of us are writers, and one is a coder. The least quirky one of the bunch is a compulsive baker who wakes me at night with phone calls extolling the most recent recipe she's developed.

I'm glad no one ironed out my quirks. I'm glad I didn't iron out theirs. But if there are things we as grandparents can do to help our little guys feel more comfortable being themselves in the world, I want to know about them. And I wish I could make it for more than 45 minutes on my composition project before I am compelled to go write an essay about quirkiness. I think my sister told me she has a book to help adults cope with ADHD . . .

*I've included my kids' spouses in this list. You don't marry into our family without being a little quirky yourself.

Freitag, September 28, 2007

That was then, this is now

OK, I didn't finish my recorder piece yet. I made this solemn pledge not to knit or blog until it was done, but it is just making me waste time when I'm not writing.

On Tuesday I wrote until my brain fell out and was too tired to knit. On Wednesday I wrote until I hit a brainblock, then frittered away the rest my day reading Ravelry forums every ten minutes. On Thursday I wrote for a couple of hours and then polished my piano to within an inch of its life.

Then I gave up. I had to have something to knit at my book group so I finished my Halloween socks.

Yarn Pirate "Spooky" in Wendy's Frogwarts pattern

I-cord noodles worked randomly over 4-5 (or 3 or 6) stitches

Then I decided that as long as my pledge was already broken, I might as well start the throw I bought at Great Basin.

Multi-fiber Throw from Mountain Colors, Tamarack colorway

There is no way Paul can say these are girl colors, although he might say the novelty yarns are femmie.

Whatever. It coordinates with my hair and his dog.

Now I need a new take-along, brainless project. I could start something autumny.

Top: Yarn Pirate club yarn; Bottom: Potter Covers club yarn

Or I could do something with my Sundara Petals that came yesterday.

I can always write until my brain falls out after the pedicure.

Sonntag, September 23, 2007

Partial Camnesia

OK. So I went to OFFF. My camera was in my bag. I did not take it out. At all. Not even once. We could pretend I took pictures, though. These are the pictures we can pretend I took:

Lin Roden, freshly back from Australia, wearing a beatiful black handwoven (by herself!) shawl shot with aqua threads.

Judy and Shirley at Judy's booth.

The Blue Moon Fiber Arts Booth--wall-to-wall color, fiber, people, laughing, crazy hair color, hugs, socks, crazy yarn names (Pond Scum? Bleck?)

Wolfhounds (at the other end of the fairgrounds).

I did buy some stuff. Here is some stuff I bought (click to biggify):

Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Some Rare Gems

Lightweight Rare GemLightweight Rare GemLightweight Rare Gem
Lightweight Faulty Dyer
Faulty Dyer
Mediumweight Pirate Booty
Pirate Booty
Lightweight Count Cluckula
Count Cluckula
Sugar Plums
Sugar Plums
Lightweight Autumn
Autumn Leaves
Great Wall Bleck
A new Blue Moon Yarn, Great Wall, in colorway Bleck
Geisha Pond Scum
Geisha in Pond Scum
Sheep to Shoe Rooster Rock (I think)
Sheep to Shoe Kit in (I think) Rooster Rock
Judy's Novelty Wool
Judy's Novelty CorriedaleJudy's Novelty Corriedale Harvy Suncatcher
These are her home-grown, hand-dyed Corriedale

I wasn't the only one who was excited about these fibers.

First you rub it on your head

Then you give it a cookie and take it for a drive

Take it for a drive and give it cookies

I did remember to get the camera out when we went apple picking.

Golden Russet




So that's about it for the week. I'll see you when I get my recorder piece finished and the parts handed out!

P.S. The opera was to die for (Carmen thought so, too)! Chris was super!

Donnerstag, September 20, 2007

Poem Translation

Upon request, I am providing a translation of my headache poem.

The original:

Das kleine Köpfchen tut mir weh;
Ist voller Schmerz.
Geh weg, Schmerz, geh!

The translation:

My head hurts.
It is full of pain.
Go away, pain, go!

Now don't you wish you hadn't asked?

So since I feel sorry for you having been subjected to my poem, which ranks right up there with Vogon poetry, I am giving you one by Goethe, which I believe may be the most beautiful poem ever written:

Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,
Im dunkeln Laub die Gold-Orangen glühn,
Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht,
Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht?
Kennst du es wohl?
Dahin! dahin
Möcht ich mit dir, o mein Geliebter, ziehn.

Do you know the land where the lemon trees bloom,
And oranges like gold amid the leafy gloom?
A gentle wind from bluest heaven blows,
The myrtle still, and high the Laurel grows.
Do you know that land?
Tis there, ah! 'tis there,
Oh my beloved,
That I dream we would go.

Hear Chris sing it!!!

The entire poem and a kind of stilted translation are available here.

What's Wrong With This Picture?


No, I'm not talking about the floor. I'm talking about the full dish drainer and the dishwasher still being used as an adjunct drainer. I'm the person who washes three loads of dishes in the dishwasher rather than wash ANY dishes in the sink. The only things I wash in the sink are my non-stick cookware and my red knives.

My dishwasher has been broken for six weeks. I hate Sears. They did come after an entire month! and install a new motor, which turned out to have a bad seal and flooded the entire kitchen. Lucky we hadn't installed the new cork flooring already. Now I not only have to do dishes by hand, but the kitchen smells moldy.

What does this have to do with knitting? It's kind of an either/or thing. Dishes or knitting? Knitting or dishes? Hmmm.

Note: today's photos are on Flickr, so you can click to see more detail.

Check out the Halloween socks. This is Yarn Pirate "Spooky":




Look how cute it is working up in Wendy's Frogwarts Socks pattern!


I waited to start the stitch pattern until after the heel because my black clogs are the weeist bit tight, so I wanted a totally smooth foot. Wendy has an interesting heel turn on these socks, by the way. I used Judy's Magic Cast-On, which I love, and the associated toe, which I think is easier to do than the short row toe I usually use. However, after trying the sock on, I think it feels a little bit rigid. Short row is so comfortable to wear.

I have posted about the Great Basin Fiber Arts Fair separately, so scroll on down for a second middle of the night blog post. It's either feast or famine here at the Vortex.

I go to Great Basin Fiber Arts

Joanne and I went to Great Basin together on Saturday, and met up with Laurel and Piper. I could not keep up with Piper's shopping pace.

I totally went nuts at the Nomad Yarns booth, buying the ones naturally dyed by Judith McKenzie McKuen. Today's pictures are all on Flickr, so you can click and get other sizes for more detail.




I decided I would really like an alpaca for my back yard, although I doubt the alpacas would like Trusty.


This cute man demonstrated his walking wheel and played a handmade wooden flute. I am embarrassed that, although I asked his name, I have already forgotten it.


I tried out a Kromski Minstrel for Dandelion. I liked it!

P9150016Spinner's eye view

I met Tola!

P9150022Tola is on the right. Aren't the babies cute?

The stuff I bought is still in the car. I think I will just store it there until I get back from Portland. Maybe I will photo it then. But there are more pictures of the walking wheel and alpacas on Flickr.

P.S. since I am up in the middle of the night headaching around, I decided to share my headache poem with you:

Das kleine Köpfchen tut mir weh;
Ist voller Schmerz.
Geh weg, Schmerz, geh!

I made up a great poem about my phone battery dying, complete with rap sound effects, but I have already vorgotten it.

Somehow I don't think Goethe needs to worry about these poems.

Montag, September 17, 2007

Quick note

Just to let you know I am not dead yet (be patient--it takes a minute for the sound clip to load after you click the link). I ran into Tola at the Great Basin Fiber Fiber Arts Fair on Saturday and she was wondering.

I have to write music first thing in the morning and then I am drained for the rest of the day. But I do have pictures from the fair to share, and also pictures of my Halloween socks. And then next week I will have pictures of the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. So I'll be around.

Thanks for caring ;)

Donnerstag, September 06, 2007

What to do for fun in Utah

  • Check out historical events

  • How about The Battle of Wellsville, for example? What, you say, you never heard of it? Check out Laurel's site It's looks more entertaining than The Battle of Yorktown, where I think we only saw one horse. I can think of some more battles that might be entertaining to reenact in Utah, but I have a morbid sense of humor so I will not pass that on.

  • Watch rare meteorological events

  • Hey, we live in a desert here.

  • Knit

  • While I was sick for a week with every symptom a sinus infection can produce, I did not have enough energy to start anything new,* but as a trapped audience of one, I was able to weave in ends and block some things.

  • Shop

  • I wanted to stop at a new (to me) yarn store on the way home from the doctor (the doctor prescribed it, having been there on the weekend) but my head was threatening to explode so I had to go to the pharmacy instead. But when I got home there was a present from Webs.


    Araucania "Ranco Multy" sock yarn, color # 306

    I have solemnly promised myself not to start any more brown projects until I finish Paul's brown socks. I wonder where I hid them when I got sick of brown last spring?

    *I actually did start the Stripy Vest for OE, in a burst of guilt-ridden, medication-fueled mania. It is nearly finished.

    Mittwoch, September 05, 2007

    I'm so happy fall is here

    Gráinne Hambly & William Jackson, Somerset Harp Festival

    Turbo takes a break from knitting OE's stripe vest.

    It's from

    And Trusty and I are off to hit the pavement in the new cooler weather; may it last for six months, at the least.

    Sonntag, September 02, 2007


    In this week's Cast-Off, Brenda Dayne mentions learning from her recent computer woes. I can really relate to that. Everything I know about thinking, I learned from coding. In BASIC.

    The year that Todd was a baby, Paul and his brother bought a computer for their medical practice. It had one game on it: Cave. I was an instant addict. I would take the kids to the doctor's office, put up gates and give them toys, and play with the computer. This was 1981, so it was not a PC, and it couldn't really do anything other than insurance forms and Cave. Cave wasn't finished. At some point you just came to a dead end. I dimly remember pirates. If you typed in XYZZY it took you back to the beginning.

    One day Todd got into the pediatrics fridge and opened all the vaccinations. It didn't hurt Todd but it cost hundreds (thousands?) of dollars to replace them. Paul thought it would be cheaper to just buy me my own computer. Lesson learned: Sometimes you get more by making mistakes than by being good.

    I loved my little PC with its 64K modem and green screen. But it couldn't really do anything, either. So I bought a book on computer programming and some BASIC programs to play with. I taught my computer to whistle the Flower Strewing Song from Madame Butterfly. But my book of practice programs left a lot to be desired. I wrote to the publisher and told them that I thought those programs needed to be rewritten to make them more elegant. I didn't tell them I was a college dropout with two years of music theory and German literature under my belt and no programming experience other than Madam Butterfly.

    They hired me anyway. They sent me a book called "1001 Things to do with your TRS-80" by Mark Sawusch and asked me to translate it into versions for other computers, since each version of BASIC was a little different. I figured if somebody could do it, I could do it. I was off!

    I did Commodore-64; that was easy, they were cheap. I did my cute little PC, of course. I did Apple--that one was cool, because I bought a card for my PC that actually turned it into an Apple. It even made the drives do that weird, grinding chugging noise that old Apple drives made. I got stuck on the graphics, and learned that a teenager in the neighborhood was a whiz at Apple graphics. I subcontracted to Jesse for the graphics, and sometimes hired him to babysit if I didn't have any coding for him to do.

    I did Macintosh, and that was back when it was so primitive that it would let you put more files on the floppy disc than its operating system could read. My daughter's music teachers, the Townleys, bailed me out on the Macintosh problems. John, if you're reading this, I still have one of your squeezeboxes. I should get it back to you.

    And gradually I discovered that I had a brain. Trouble-shooting computer programs taught me that if the program hangs, you have to step through it one line at a time until you find the mistake. I learned to try just one fix at a time, because if you do several things and it still blows up, you don't know what happened. I learned to compartmentalize my activities, because it's easier to create subroutines that act like neat little packages and make them work as a team than to string life together like a bowl of spaghetti or a bumper card ride.

    One day the kids got a video disc stuck in the player. I had never been able to fix anything in my life, but I looked at the video disc player and thought about it like a computer program. I thought about how the kid had put it in, and what it might have caught on, and thought of one thing I could try to get it out. When it came out, I was crying with joy, not because we could now watch TV but because I had actually solved a problem in my life with my brain. My brain! MY brain.

    The other thing that caused tears was the unexpected loss of Jesse. One day he went home early from school with a headache, and took a couple of aspirin. Three days later he was dead of Reye's Syndrome. Look it up. Don't take aspirin for a virus.

    It's hard to explain why the person I am today was created by computer programming. I never made it past BASIC. When I took a beginning computer class at Tulane in lieu of math (I stink at math, go figure) I had a hard time grasping pointers. The professor had to draw train cars on the blackboard. "This car is Dogbreath. This car is Dogbreath Up-Arrow."

    If you do a search on my name on Alibris or AbeBooks, those books still pop up. I never got any royalties, just a flat fee for each version.

    And a brain. Don't forget the brain.
    No tickers