Monday, April 28, 2008

Calloo Callay Oh Happy Day!

Even though we woke up to Photobucket, and even though I'm typing to a loud reverberation of hammers, it couldn't be a better day.

The floor guys started today. Within the last 26 minutes, they have ripped out the living room carpet and have started taking up the plywood that was under that. Within the next few days, we'll have a new hickory floor in there.

This spring, we're doing a lot of deferred maintenance - and when I say "we", I mean we pay for it and someone else far more skilled does it right. We've had a painter in to spruce up a few rooms. Later this spring, we're putting in a 4-foot wooden fence in part of the garden.

Speaking of skill and getting things right, there are a few little mistakes in my Phoenix Rising Shawl. It sure is pretty, though. This is the center motif.Photobucket

I'm ending the last repeat of the body pattern and ready to head in to the edging. Picture me knitting lace to the bang, bang, bang of the flooring men's hammers.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Mrs. J's Scrumptious Salad!

The postal person brought an ad for The Church Supper Cookbook. "Your dish will disappear first, guaranteed!" trumpeted the ad's cover. And on the first page, "The dish that disappears first will be yours, every time!"

Just look at some of those dishes: Bev's Luscious Sausage Chowder, Catherine's Chicken Sour Cream Bake, Katarine's Louisiana Beef Stew, Beatrice's Danish Potato Salad, and more, more, more.

Under my breath, I muttered that I might order it. This upset both my daughters. We have been to many, many church suppers. Around here, well ... it isn't exactly "Star Cooks of Their Communities Offer up Their Best, Most Treasured Recipes!", as the ad for the cookbook has it. It's more "What Leftovers Do I Have That I Can Bind Together with Canned Soup?".

"Be strong," my 18 year-old said, her young voice brimming with resolve. "That food (my note: not the exact word she used) is the work of the Devil. You are a warm-goat-cheese-on-baby-greens gal."

"I'd rather eat vegetarian," my 15 year-old chimed in. This is huge because she is basically Alex P. Keaton's twin.

Eh, what do I need that book for when I have so many real church cookbooks? And here's what I'm making as a side dish tonight, direct from Grace Lutheran in Fort Dodge, Iowa:

Mexican Potato Salad

4 medium potatoes (red)
1/2 c. oil
1/3 c. vinegar
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 pkg. corn, thawed
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/2 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/2 c. sliced ripe olives
1/4 c. chopped red onion
tomato wedges

In pan, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and while still slightly warm, peel and cube. In small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, chili powder, salt and pepper sauce. Add to warm potatoes, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Fold in corn, celery, carrots, green pepper, olives, and onion. Garnish with tomato wedges and additional olives. Serve chilled. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lace Lessons

I'm well into the fourth repeat of the body pattern of the Phoenix Rising shawl, kit #1 from the Make One Year of Lace club. It's a lot of firsts for me:

-first triangular shawl
-first lace from a chart
-first shawl on #2s
-first project with such fine yarn
-first project with Claudia's Handpaints Silk Lace (100% silk)

You know what? For all those firsts, it ain't so hard. (A sharp intake of breath from all the lace knitters out there. Never get too full of yourself around lace - somehow, it knows and takes exquisite revenge.)

I'm proud of this project because - living in a LYS-free zone and coming from a non-crafty family - I'm an essentially self-taught knitter.

I'm no expert but here's what I know for sure about knitting lace:

1. Step away from the mohair.Like so many, my first lace project was's Branching Out. I knit it in some mohair I had in my stash because it was the skinniest yarn I owned. How ethereal and wispy was that mohair! I loved it until ...

Mohair is a royal pain in the tailfeathers to frog. Mistakes happen; that's how we learn. Just make sure you learn on something besides mohair. It doesn't have to be laceweight. Worsted and bigger needles work just fine for lace.

After Branching Out, I took a lot of worsted, some #7s, and a stitch dictionary along on our annual trek to the rez in Wyoming where we did work for many years. I'd pick a lace pattern from the stitch dictionary and knit an entire scarf. Then I'd give it away when we'd visit people's homes. It was a win-win situation.

2. Use Addi Lace needles. They're slick and sharp in all the right ways. It really makes life so much easier than using bamboo needles for lace.

3. To every thing (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn) If you are tired or can't concentrate or are likely to be interrupted, leave aside the lace and take up those socks you are working on.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Real men help with the laundry.

Jack, the mellow little beagle who somehow survived the dash across the highway, is doing well. He certainly is loved and even scores the occasional piece of crispy bacon.

Thank you to everyone for your kindness about Molly, the beagle who didn't make it across the highway. Your words mean more than you can know.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Molly the beagle died yesterday.

The front door was left open and she ran out, followed by Jack. My daughter and her friend ran after them but beagles run fast.

Molly and Jack ran through our village and onto the highway. A car hit Molly, not even bothering to stop.

But a car of college students did. They got the dogs off the highway, wrapped Molly in a blanket, called us (phone number on the dogs' tags) and the Humane Society, which has an ambulance.

Molly was seizing.

The nearest emergency vet is a good 30 minutes away. Molly went in the ambulance. Jack went with us. By the time we arrived there, the vet had had a chance to look Molly over. One of the things they do is give the dog's foot a good squeeze.

Molly didn't react.

In other words, Molly's spine had been severed. We had a chance to say goodbye to Molly and to thank her for being the awesome, loving dog she was.

Please keep our beagle Jack in your thoughts during this time of adjustment. He has lost his playmate.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Phoenix Rising Shawl II

The Year of Lace kit came with 1 skein of Claudia's Handpaints Silk Lace (100% silk, 1,100 yards), a packet of beads, and the pattern for Sivia Harding's custom design. The pattern charts are nice and large and the directions clear, even if, like me, you've never knit a triangular shawl from a chart before. Seven color photos - mostly close-ups of details - illustrate the directions.

This is one-and-a-quarter repeats (out of five total for the full shawl). The body pattern is 32 rows but it wasn't until row 20-something that I saw the logic of the pattern, I admit.