Friday, January 30, 2009

Let me consult my crystal ball

When we woke up Wednesday morning we expected to see lots of snow. Instead the six inches of snow we were predicted to get had arrived in the form of ice. Now it's Friday but the temperatures have stayed cold and all the ice is still around. One the ends of my hydrangeas it created these cute little ice orbs.

They look like little lightbulbs or very mini lawn globes.

Thankfully we never lost power here. Actually it's surprising, considering that all we need in Granville is an errant squirrel or a stiff breeze to knock power out for a few hours. The first three nights we spent in our house here in August of 2007 our power went off and on every evening for three evenings in a row. My first thought was that the electrical system in our house needed serious attention. Well, the electrical is old and probably does need at least moderate to serious attention but apparently it was a local transformer problem, which they then solved by turning off the whole town's power for 6 hours over one night in order to access and fix the infrastructure. Still, power flickers are the norm here even with a repaired transformer.

I'm also thankful that we haven't needed to get anywhere by car in the past few days. Bill walks to work and everything else vital is also within walking distance. Check out the quarter of inch of ice on the windshield. Only just this morning was I able to use an ice scraper to help me pry open the driver side door. And even when pushing from the inside I still can't get the passenger doors to budge.

The ice on the windshield is almost impossible to scrape and I've already broken one scraper. Eh, maybe I'll scrape later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring organizing

So I've been searching everywhere for our other futon cover and I finally found it a few days ago in a box that we hadn't opened since we left Wisconsin. Sure, there was only a humidifier in the box so I didn't think we needed to open it. Yet after searching in just about every other possible space I finally decided to open the box and finally found just what I was looking for.

It's been an ongoing challenge, moving into a smaller house with less storage space and less reliably protected storage space: dirt crawl spaces, damp basements, yucky and hard to reach attic. I finally freaked out last year when I couldn't find a book I was looking for (it was in one of many boxes of books stuck on shelves in the basement) and we put up lots of bookcases in our living room in order to actually have books out and accessible. Still, I often find myself going through boxes of stuff in the basement, trying to find something that I finally conclude we got rid of before we moved (that stupid spaeztle maker I never used for years, now I'm actually making spaeztle and trying awkwardly to do it with a cheese grater, duh).

One positive thing that's come of our having less storage is that I've learned how to be even more choosy about what I need to keep. With my Lutheran guilt I've just kept things forever because it felt wrong to give them up. I loved that sweater when I was in the ninth grade but do I really need to keep it? Or, someone else loved that [insert object here] maybe I need to keep it and love it too. And this has worked for some things. I've come to the point where I'm better at actually using something that may be antique or valuable--a rare but cracked Roseville compote as an everyday fruitbasket--because value is ultimately subjective, right? If I'm not selling it, then it's worth what it's worth to me. Still I have bins full of antique tablecloths that I'm still too chicken to use on a table, and I have lots of old sweaters and half-finished projects just languishing in bins.

But there comes a point when one needs to take stock and streamline. And then organize!

It's such a soothing thing, organizing. I do love reading organizing and design blogs and while I totally enjoy looking at how clean and stylish some of these homes are, I know that I can't ever totally get there myself. Indeed, I've come to love color more than ever and can't now imagine living in a place that is predominantly white, even if that white is a neutral backdrop for color. Ok, I can imagine it but I just can't see it ever being a reality for me, I'm too scattered. Of the many, many, shelves of books in our house I've only been able to organize one single shelf by color. All the rest are in odd groupings by subject, whether their Bill's or mine, or whether they just fit that sized shelf.

But, my point! Yes. For the past several days I've been organizing my yarn stash and knitting supplies. I've had bags of yarn stashed around in various places (usually filling the tops of moving boxes) that needed to be put in a central and protected space. But my knitting albatross was most certainly the unfinished sweater for Bill that I began knitting back in 2000. I loved the color and I loved the detail of the pattern but when I began the project I was young, impatient, and inexperienced (as a knitter, of course). Gauge, smauge! Who needs a gauge! It'll be close enough.

uh huh.

Looks fine from here doesn't it?

And I just kept knitting and kept denying that this sweater was larger than Bill could ever possibly grow to be.

Could I just sew it up and trim off the excess? What do I do?

January 2008 I made the decision to pull it out. January 2009 I actually mustered up the courage to do it. And after spending who knows how many hours knitting up that mess, it probably took another three hours to unravel it neatly. So, photos, balls of yarn, and the many hours lost are all that remain of my failed project.

But it's a new year. I unraveled part of another sweater I'd started for myself back before I understood how to make complicated cables (yes, again the unexperienced knitter bites off more than she can handle) and now that I've made my peace with these scuttled projects I'm feeling suddenly very light and free. I now have yarn for two sweaters and I didn't have to spend a dime. All my yarn is organized, stored in airtight ziplocs in a clear bin in my office, and I'm ready to start something new.

So, my new plan for Bill's sweater is this. It's much more Bill's style and it should be a bit more fun to knit. I can finally handle this basic cable and I'm looking forward to relatively mindless stockingette stitch for most of the sweater.

I don't really do the New Year's resolution thing but I'm realizing that my efforts towards confronting those unfinished projects has made me feel quite happy. Whether that project is just cleaning out a few more items that I've kept but don't use anymore, or whether it's been having the courage to undo another project and start from scratch, I must say that I prefer this feeling of fresh starts.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

start small

I'm finally able to get back to knitting again after almost a year. Of course I have a bunch of unfinished projects (like that sweater for Bill that I've been working on for eight years?) but it's best to start small.

I started these little booties from Saartje Knits back in November. I carried them around with me all from Minnesota to Virgina and points in between but didn't get them finished until twenty minutes before we were meeting our friend's baby. We were sitting at the car dealership in Alexandria waiting for our estimate to fix the faulty circuit for our headlights (you don't even want to know how much that cost) and I was frantically finishing knitting and sewing up the last bootie.

Thus the pics are bad again. But this is an adorable pattern and it knits really fast once you actually do the knitting. I love the little crossed straps. So cute.

I used a white yarn (Plymouth Dreambaby 4ply - acrylic microfiber and nylon) and one that mixed a light green and white (Louet Gems - merino). Both are a fingering weight and I knit them on size 1 needle.

They were warmly received by both little Katherine and her mom!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter Delights

There are many things I love about winter. Living in Minnesota and Wisconsin I've always loved snow (and, despite Bill's potential disagreement on this) I do like the cold. Last night was our first real snow here in Granville and it was a pretty one: lots of big drifting flakes, an occasional breeze.

One of the things I love about snow is that it makes the world brighter. Even today with the sun behind the clouds, there's so much more light coming in through the windows. One of the struggles I've had with living here in central Ohio is that winter's involve less snow and less sun. Winter's are often damp and cloudy, making one feel psychologically, if not physically, more chilled.

So today was a cheerful morning of brightness already, but then as I was making toast I happened to look out the window above the kitchen sink and catch a glimpse of a cardinal convention.

Really, is that seven cardinals in that bush by the shed? I've thought time and again that I need to prune whatever species of shrub has gotten completely out of control back there but the trouble is that birds, especially cardinals, love to perch there.

The overall quality of the pics leaves a bit to be desired. One does what one can with a point-and-shoot digital camera used through the glass of the kitchen window. (I feel like this camera used to take better pictures, do these cameras gradually just fade in overall performance? I could understand a catastrophic failure but I don't get this gradual decline...)

Hope you enjoy the pics despite the quality.