Thursday, December 29, 2005

Max's Hooded Zip Sweater

Max has waited patiently for months for his sweater to be finished. Here it finally is. I knit it adapting the Gatsby Cardigan from "The Knitter's Handy book of Sweater Patterns". I used KnitPicks Sierra, which is 100% wool and chunky weight on size10 needles. One picture shows it after it was almost completed, then I added a zipper, I-cord edging along the zipper area, a hood and pockets. Look closely and you'll see lots of endearing mistakes, but the bottom line is that it's done and it is exactly what he wanted. I adapted the Gatsby Cardigan pattern. And if you look VERY closely you'll notice that our living room changed completely between a few of these pictures. That's how we spent December 26th, rearranging the entire living room.

Seashell Windchimes

We are almost finished with Chanukkah and here is a picture of the family (minus the photographer) making seashell windchimes. These along with home made soaps were our standard gift this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

All this and the kitchen floor, or "How do we survive a do-it-ourselves" kitchen remodel?

We still have not decided on the floor tile to finish the bathroom remodel, but other than that and the final "soft" touches, like towels and bath mats. It's done. So what's next? Replacing the dishwasher with one we got from freecycle! And what better to do before installing the "free" dishwasher than to totally and completely gut our kitchen! Yes ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen floor has water damage down to the subfloor right in front of the kitchen sink. Ginger and William discovered it while removing the ancient dishwasher. They called me at work to tell me. When I got home from work, the site of that floor damage drove me to drink. So it was load up the family and head to Molly's!

We've met with contractors and determined the joists are solid. The subfloor is not and needs to be replaced in at least one area about 4x6'. At this point in time we are planning to do it all ourselves! This means the kitchen will be completely out of commission for no less than 2 months. Aside from moving the refrigerator to the dining room and setting up a small kitchen area in there, washing dishes in dish tubs on the bathroom counter and using disposable cups/plates/silver (or constantly washing our enamel camp dishes) WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR US? Comments will be heartily welcomed! We cook and eat all meals at home. We are a work and stay at home family. We don't do well with cereal and sandwiches non-stop so at least one meal must be hot each day, plus we'll be on a paupers budget to do the remodel so eating out is limited to out usual once a week. I wonder how long I can operate the campstove inside before I asphyxiate everyone? HELP!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Most of the weekend's crew around the fire

from left to right
Linda, Ron, Jon, Sarah, Roger, Alex, Greg Posted by Picasa

a group hallucination, long horns in the campground!

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lunch on the trail

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Roger helps William strap on the leaf blower

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Diane filling fuel bottles

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snoozing after a day on the Karkaghne

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Honda Hilton's first visitor

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Welcome to the Honda Hilton

At a trail maintenance outing to Sutton Bluff in Missouri, our Honda Element became the HONDA HILTON. Because we arrived late in the evening and were unable to see if any camping areas were level or didn't have rocks and because it was very cold, I agreed to sleep in the Element. The literature boasted that it could be used this way, but I was doubtful. My back sometimes struggles on "level" ground in a tent even with a great "Big Agnes" self-inflating sleep mat so I didn't think sleeping in a car was going to be remotely comfortable. I was wrong. Make a note for the records. I was terribly wrong. We pulled into the campground and chatted with friends. We then went back to the Element and prepared it for camping. We took off the front headrests and reclined the front seats to meet the 2nd row of seats. We took the gear out of the back and reclined the back seats leaving the headrests on. I noted the "bed" had a drop off around my knees so I doubled up my sleep mat in that area after slightly inflating it. We put our full length Kelty Clear Creek bags out and found we had lots of room left for gear! We put gear bags on the front seats, stored boots and water (the campground was officially closed) and propane cylinder spares in the front footwells. My stove and food slid under the rear seats by the clamshell opening and we even hung a headlamp from the grab bar for a little night light. I suspect we were a tad warmer than if we'd been in the tent, but the condensation was still there. I did, however, sleep beautifully! So we didn't pitch the tent all weekend. This is just another great bonus for the Element. It slept one large adult, one 11 year old boy and a very large Yorki in comfort. We could even do a quick flip and drive to the worksite. So no only will the Element load up for a month at the beach complete with kayak and gear, it will become an RV or Honda Hilton. I'll try a dry run with both kids and see if we can use it at the next maintenance outing. Come join us!
Wear layers. See you there with or without your own Honda Hilton.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Homeschool's cool, but finding friends may be down right hell!

And now to my soap box (drum roll) Cliquish homeschoolers and exclusive groups. Ahhh, time to rant. Skip this if you've heard it. Grab a cup of coffee or tea if you haven't 'cause you'll be here a while. We have had the pleasure and pain of living and being involved in 3 different homeschool groups in 3 different states. I will spare you the diatribe about state laws, but suffice it to say Oklahoma is OK to homeschool in. The founders got it oh-so-right! However, the homeschool group there did not. There was the usual Christian sign-on-the-line group here and there and one broader based group, but it's glory days were behind it when we found it. The families who'd founded it had older kids and had lost their zeal for including new comers. We muddled along, made a few friends for the kids, but because home schoolers don't generally live in the same neighborhood, getting kids together was a challenge. I've heard that the group ultimately resorted to being an e group only. There was a split or two and some smaller cells survive. In Pensacola we weren't exactly unschooly enough on some levels, but Rose did the most angelic thing our first physical visit (we'd been on the e group for quite some time) and introduce all the kids and their ages. Even my little introvert eventually, by the time the first 2 hour unstructured meeting/gathering was over, had found a FRIEND! yep, a friend folks. Bona fide friend. And my little social butterfly was thick in the crowd as well. So we hosted and ::gasp:: kids their ages actually CAME. The boys love their friends and that group, but we're back in TN and it's not the same. It's much closer to the Oklahoma group. Max, the intelligent introvert has had a friend or two but for weirdo parental reasons and nothing to do with him or THIS family, those kids have disappeared. The other boys his age, who I've known since birth, don't reach out to him and he's too shy to try in a large group. We've organized activities, invited people to join us volunteering and hosted small groups at our home, but he hasn't gotten "in". He's supposedly seen as "not wanting to play", but my rant (you knew there was a point, right?) is that this is the most homogeneous group of kids I've seen in a homeschool group. There are no bookworms! If there are, they are excluded, ignored and their families eventually disappear. There are no other options in town except the Christians and they're looking better by the day! At least I KNOW why they don't like us! I'm deeply disturbed by the general cliquish nature of homeschooling groups and the general lack of options for those that don't fit in. I asked Max today if he thought homeschool groups were accepting of quiet kids and he said "Yeah" then walked away, turned back and said, well not here. :::sigh::: So we'll head off to the phones and call friends in Pensacola. They will chat online in RuneScape and eventually, maybe next month we'll squeeze in a 4 day weekend back in Pensacola to hook up and renew our souls enough to keep on for another few months until we can get back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a group we've visited in MS though. Now can you find the irony if a Jewish Lesbian mom finding a friend for her introverted smart bibliophile kid in a conservative group in MS? I know I can and just to throw a sweet thought out to end this salty rant, the sweet kids that clicked the best with our kids, were from a large Mormon family. Bibliophiles unite!
And if you're reading this Elizabeth and Sam, thanks again for talking to Max, it meant the world to him. We need to host another teen night and get Daniel up here too. That was amazing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I went to Chicago with another homeschooling family in November. Here are a few pictures. Chicago was great. There are so many things to do and our local memberships to zoos and museums entitled us to free or reduced entrance to most of the top locations. We saw the Planetarium, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Science Museum, Art Institute and tried many good restaurants. The subway and bus systems were excellent and a visitor's pass allowed us to hop on and off all day long for $3! Hotels are extremely expensive in Chicago, even using every discount I could find. We want to return and take Ginger with us next time.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Memory loss

As some of you know, I have a little memory problem. This has been going on for over a year and honestly at times I'm completely "over it." Once again I am gathering my information and energy to try and get a clear consensus diagnosis. We now know I do not have a brain tumor nor have I had silent strokes. It took months and tens of thousands of dollars to get to this point so it is with great fear and financial trepidation that I wade into the medical waters again, but here goes.

I have found a grid that might be helpful if you know someone, or if you ARE someone, with memory or cognitive loss/impairment. There is an interview type of test that is done and this is the scoring grid. I haven't had the interview done. Reading the test and reading the grid, I'd say I'm 0.5, BUT my incredible insight late last night was this; I know how hard I work to keep track of what's going on. I know how I side step things I can't remember or figure out how to do (like sometimes I can't figure a tip or organize my day), BUT if you're just watching me you wouldn't see that. Neither would a medical person. So, while I have stopped volunteering and simplified my life, taught our kids to navigate when I get confused or lost while driving, I'm still only every so slightly impaired compared to ::gulp:: where I could be. So if I continue down this dementia/cognitive loss road and find that a clear diagnosis is not to be made perhaps it's just because I'm over-aware of my loss and not crazy?

I have spoken and emailed with some research facilities to try and get in a research study. I hope a research study will get the testing done without adding to my outrageous medical debt. Wish our marriage were recognized, then I'd have insurance, but that's another rant. I am deeply hoping to hear back from any of the research studies. So far I know I've talked to Chicago and St. Louis, but can't remember who/where and didn't write it down. Okay, I think I've talked to those sites, maybe just emailed with no response. I'll let you know if I get in a study. They all involve travel at this point, but we like St. Louis and Chicago and would welcome any excuse to return. Until then I'm knitting and living a simple small life.
Go hug the ones you love and be grateful they're with you today.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Everything and the bathroom sink...

Last night the local unschooler's group celebrated Martinmas. While this is a Christian festival, it certainly isn't celebrated as such by our (Jewish) family, but we don't make a big deal of it and we participate in our own way. Many families do the same. The boys enjoyed spending some time with friends even thought it was late when we arrived and got very dark. Max shared GameBoy with Nick and William ran with a group of kids close to his age. We were among the last to leave. It was very pleasant and the many small adult conversations that were short, but incredibly important, are the highlight of my evening. Sending a big warm thanks to Lynn for continually organizing this, all the families who brought great food, Margaret for taking a moment to talk and to Jeannie and family an extra hug and good energy for clarity in the job situation!
It's a beautiful fall day, what AM I doing at home instead of out hiking? Being responsible ::sigh:: Home improvement remains at the top of the list. The bathroom is almost finishing being painted. There are a few pieces of trim to remeasure, cut and paint. While I did dishes, cooked and laundry, Ginger cut in and rolled the bathroom ceiling. If we keep at it, this will be done by evening with only the replacement of the floor to complete the transformation. What a chore! Who knew that by changing the the lighting we'd end up redecorating the entire thing? Certainly not moi! We've removed plastor and lath, replaced wiring, shimmed out walls, hung drywall, scraped walls, patched walls and mudded seams. We've primed and painted and there's more painting to be done. The curtain rods and trim are calling so I must to the home improvement dash! One of these days you'll see a completed picture on here.
Next time maybe I'll tell you about our most excellent trip to Chicago, Halloween and Wm's birthday! Go forth and redecorate!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

To tell or not to tell, vote please!

I'm back on line, and for some of you that's a relief. You've not had an update for ages. Ginger worked on the shipped hard drive and it's just fine. I'm slowly building my files back. I did, however, lose a month of pictures and might have lost most of the bar mitzvah pictures, but I'm in denial about that.

One thing I am not in denial about is Sexual Offenders. There is a sexual offender's registry and you can check by last name or zip code. Someone shared the link and I looked around. Looking doesn't mean, as an acquaintance said, that I think the world is a terrifying place. It means I use resources that are available to protect and inform. I also lock my doors and use the factory installed alarm on my car, when I didn't have a car with a factory install alarm, I didn't buy one. This resource is on the web. I encourage ALL parents to use it. Check the last name of any and ALL adults your child comes into contact with. Don't write off your next door neighbor as "I know him/her, I don't have to check" unless you know and understand that it's your fear that's keeping you from checking. Knowledge is power. Check, then chat. Find an offener? Read up on what their offense is. Know them personally? Chat with them about your discovery. Then, when you know, should you tell other friends who come in contact with the registered offender? I vote "yes". Why? Because knowledge is power. Because sexual offenders are felons and it's important to make informed choices. Even if you think the offender is harmless, being around children may put his/her parole/probation in jeopardy. Think, ask, then go with your gut. If the offender lives with kids, remember they are not offenders and should not be castigated because their parent is an offender. Welcome the child, but avoid the offender. Safety first, manners later!
What about group events? Individually, responsible offenders know their legal and judge ordered limits, but may choose to live outside them. Again, check. If you discover a member of a group is a registered offender, speak to the organizers or leaders about asking that individual to refrain from attending group activities. You might not want to see a headline "XYZ Group harbors sexual offender" the next morning with your coffee.
While you may not feel threatened by a convicted sexual offender as a partner or neighbor, others might. You both have a right to your feelings, but you don't have a right to knowingly expose other's to someone just because you think it's safe. There's a sexual offender's registry for a reason. Use it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Computers Anonymous

Now, before you break into a cold sweat, fret not. I don't think there is such a thing as "Computer's Anonymous" and if there were, well let's just not put that idea out there. My point is that I am without a computer. My hard drive ticked, clicked and died a week ago. Me, the internet addict, without a laptop. It's deeply disturbing. My sweet wife quickly located a replacement and I've been stalking the postman ever since. I have had to check email from the boys' and Ginger's computer. Ginger even set up a way for me to use Outlook on her computer after listening to me complain about using webmail (ICK!), but it's not the same as having my very own little laptop. So when we came home this afternoon and there was a shiny red white and blue priority mail box on the front porch I frantically ripped open the box only to find that the hard drive enclosed is not the hard drive I need. So here I am at work, doing the national working person's #1 sin...blogging on the company computer. What's a girl to do? Cross your fingers I'm up and running soon. I have projects to write and pictures to upload (though I did lose every one of our vacation pictures AUGH!) and when I am finally restored to my computer I'll then start the insanity of trying to salvage the pictures, but until then I am computerless. Say a prayer for me!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

We're "bad" Jews!

Good yontif! Shana Tova! It's Yom Kippur in case you're confused. Though I am not confused as to it being Yom Kippur, I apparently was MAJORLY confused about everything else in my life. While at dinner at Molly's La Casita last night, where I had just joined up with friends and given part of our birthday present to our dear friend Kelly, my phone rang. It seems I have no memory of agreeing to work. So I took 2 sips of my margarita, ate 3 chips and left Ginger to ride home with Dee in her new fabulous wheels :::drooling::: What, you're asking, does this have to do with Yom Kippur? Because last night was Kol Nidre. Now I really like the Kol Nidre service and had planned to leave dinner, gather the boys and head to services. I am sad I had to miss it. But there's more to my scheduling snafu. We had asked Rose and her crew to please come stay with us on their way home from the Unschooling Conference (Live and Learn) in St. Louis. When I'd made the suggestion, I hadn't been looking at a calendar. They arrived while I was at work, and would have been at services. When I got home from work (after a detour to the grocery store, hadn't been grocery shopping since we got home from a month at the beach) we enjoyed a wonderful visit. Went to bed and left the boys to a slumber party in the living room. This morning we continued to visit as Erin patiently waited to leave for Pensacola and his newly delivered computer. They just left and though I would have dearly loved to go to Yom Kippur Services, it's already 11 so unless I go to the evening services, I think we're going to be "high holiday service" deprived this year. Interesting when life offers us choices. I don't regret hosting our friends one whit! Maybe it's the goddesses sign that high holy day services were NOT the time to try a new Temple? Some would just call us "bad" Jews for not putting Yom Kippur at the top of our lists.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

everything ocean you'd like to know

So here we are on Pensacola Beach in the Gulf of Mexico. However, on the other side of this tiny strip of land is the sound and mysteriously some of the sound is a bay and another part becomes a bayou. definitions please!
Bay: an indentation of a shoreline larger than a cove but smaller than a gulf
Gulf: an arm of a sea or ocean partly enclosed by land; larger than a bay
Sound: a large ocean inlet or deep bay
Bayou: a relatively minor, sluggish waterway or estuarial creek through lowlands or swamps, generally tidal or a slow imperceptible current flow

and for everything about Red Tides:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

he's SO your child!

the hat is ala Ginger and Aunt Bev, same with the shades, but the orange, "share some" mount gay rum shirt (won at Paddy O'leary's) is ala Daddy Rick, Uncles Mikey and Chaz and the Montrose Gang! Posted by Picasa

Blue Angel

William has finally gotten another cat. His first darling, Scratch, disappeared and despite rewards, posters and canvassing the neighborhood in Oklahoma, was never found. His second cat, whom he nurse and nurtured from a sick kitten to a warm wonderful cat, Angel began to stay in the garage after we moved back to Memphis. Then she wouldn't come in for days, days become weeks and she'd show up. She had a collar and number on her. After her last long absence and subsequent return we tried to keep close tabs on her, but she left and hasn't been seen since. That was a year ago. With three cats already in the house, adding another one is not something we rush into! But with his birthday approaching, the topic came up (again). We visited several web sites, checked the paper, freecycle and the pound. Eventually we landed on this little guy who is six weeks old. He's been raised by his mom so he has all those good antibodies. Was an inside cat and is well socialized. In a stroke of genius he was named :
Blue Angel! No doubt updated pictures will come, but these are the best so far. It will be interesting to see what his coat color becomes as he matures. He has the oddest little gray striping around his neck and some medium longish hairs here and there. Check out his mustache!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mom's Purse

My mother's birthday present. I offered to make her a hat or scarf (mainly as an excuse to buy luxurious cashmere yarn) but she remembered a purse I made for Michelle's birthday and asked for a purse. I made it different than Michelle's, of course! it's 10x9x3 in theory. Knit out of very washable yarn (nothing I'd make a sweater or hat out of) I cast on 12 or 13 on the bottom and knit in seedstitch on size 6 needles for 10 inches. then picked up and knit in the round. I just got lucky that it worked out to an odd number, believe me I didn't plan that far ahead. Then I put a knit row in the middle for some variety and the top is K2P2 ribbing. I will throw a piece of carboard or plastic in the bottom for some stability and it probably should be lined, but it's unlikely that I will! If she hates it, it's going to be your birthday act surprised.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ginger, Master Sheller...

No, not peanuts and not a con game, seashells! Ginger loves snorkeling and picking up choice shells. Here she is on our balcony sorting through the keepers. We have hopes of making windchimes out of them this year. Act surprised when you get one for a gift, okay? Posted by Picasa

William poker face

Note the toothpick to complete the look. such a little actor! Posted by Picasa

flooded streets and parking lots are great for kayaking!

Max kayaked in our flooded parking lot at Villas on the Gulf in Pensacola Beach while William was content to kayak in our flooded street in Memphis. Posted by Picasa

another Finished Object!

This is a desperation item. The wind is so fierce on the beach that my scarf is continually threatening to blow off. So I grabbed my cotton yarn (that I brought to start a shadow knit purse) and cast on for a quick cabled headband. It does the trick beautifully and has become my one and only "fashion" item at the beach :) Posted by Picasa

Family at Five Flags Festival/Seafood Festival Pensacola

Posted by Picasa We enjoyed ourselves immensely at the festival this year. It was a windy and gray day on the beach, but very comfortable for the most part at the festival. Rather than buy 4 meals, I purchased a sampler platter that had grouper, shrimp, crab cakes, calamari, french fries and hushpuppies. We each had favorites from it, but we all sampled. We also met a local potter and bought a few of his wares. He's quite a character! If you're lucky, you'll get one of his mugs/cups or bowls for a gift this year.

After the festival it was time to bid Mama farewell so we drove her to the airport just in time for a huge storm to kick in. Then we started for home and counted the days until she'd be back. Isn't it GREAT that we have a month at the beach?!!! You too can do it! Join us next year, get a rental nearby and we'll make a Memphis party out of it.

A windy and wet Resource Day at Pensacola Beach

The intrepid P.U. crew headed over two bridges and hung out with us for resource day this week. It was windy and the surf had eroded the beach incredibly just since the morning, but the rains stopped and the moms enjoyed shelling, chatting on the bed while knitting (Diane and Michelle) and munching popcorn just like teenagers, but the teenagers were gathered around the computer for Runescape or out in the sand building a causeway for the lagoon water that was being pumped over the walkway. Some of the kids shelled as well and one of them had his own private "hot tub" We had a GREAT time!