Monday, August 31, 2009

Clean house

Moving: busy at best, stressful and hectic at worst.  By the lack of blogging this past week, you may assume (rightly) that it has been the the latter two.  I am so bored of the details now, and so tired of even thinking about all of it that I don't want to drag you all through it.  The bright part: the movers did, indeed show up the next day (early!), and packed us out in about 10 hours.  They were brisk and efficient, and respectful of our things. 

The dark part: we are significantly lighter in the wallet, due to some crooked dealing by the landlord and his wife.  A word of advice to friends near and far: when you move into a place, take pictures of ANYTHING that might be even slightly worn or damaged.  Even slightly.  Print these off and write clauses into your rental contract, if possible, or at least save them in your own files.  It may be the only thing standing between you and 2000 Euro.  Especially if you happen to live with little people who look like this.

Just sayin'.

I am still reaching within myself to find forgiveness for the woman who has personally scorned my housekeeping skills, the man who has forced us into funding the remodeling of his house.  Truly, I think that forgiveness and grace will have to be a divine gift in this situation.  We will move on now, because sincerely, I have nothing more to say about all of that.  I am bored to tears by the whole mess, and don't want to leave Germany with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Looking beyond all of that, it's hard leaving.  Living in Europe has been, largely, a great adventure for us.  I wish I'd made it more of a priority to learn the German language, and it would have been nice to have Greg with us more often, but other than that, I have to say that I have no regrets.

(Our last visit to our favorite restaurant in town -- a French pizzaria called Toucy)

It was sad to take a last walk through our little town last week on our way to the Friday farmer's market (on Aug. 21st). 

We said goodbye to the Egg Lady, and to the Cheese Truck Couple, and then, at last, to the dear lady at the local yarn shop.  I had told her a week prior that we'd be moving, so when we stopped by, she ran to the back room and brought out little gifts (unexpectedly!) for each of us.  Sparky, Max and Daisy had little packets of gummy bears, bubbles, stamps, etc., Billy had a hand-crocheted stuffed ball, and for me, she crocheted a beautiful summer-weight scarf, in the perfect shade of blue.  She and I both had tears in our eyes as we said goodbye.  It's kind of hard to say goodbye forever.

(Billy was napping at home with Greg, while the movers packed out our things)

On Sunday night (Aug. 23rd), we moved into the hotel.  It's cramped in here, but at least all of the cleaning and the packing and the sick feeling of inevitable disruption is past.  We're living out of suitcases, and we still have a trans-Atlantic flight ahead of us, but it feels really good to have all of the most difficult bits behind us.

This past Saturday, Greg hung out with the children while I went to my very last Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group.  It was strange to sit around the table, knitting, eating lunch, chatting as usual...but knowing that this would be the very last time this particular group of ladies would share time together.

When we arrived in Germany, we had two children; we are leaving with four.  The memories we are taking with us are precious, and while it is sad that it is time to go, we look forward to the future adventures to be had at our new home in Texas.

Our favorite little guys
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Get What You Pay For or Why Moving Is Super Fun

This past week has been a time of nearly constant motion. We paced ourselves so that the work didn't become overwhelming, but it did seem, at times, that it would never be done (at least to me. Greg has been incredibly confidant and relaxed for the most part. I just like to tweak out sometimes for the sheer joy of it).

When the Army moves an individual or a family, they pay movers to do all of the work. You don't actually have to do anything besides packing your suitcase for the flight (which they also pay for), and cleaning up the empty house afterwords. However, personally, I'm not a fan of opening a box at The New House, and discovering that it really should have been labeled Desk Clutter Pile... and another named Nightstand Junk Yard... etc. Also, within the rooms themselves, there were certain areas that needed to be organized. This pretty much meant that I had to weed through and re-organize ALL of my things, since I don't live a terribly ordered existence. You could say that the places I live in have a tendency to in rather quickly. There are even some people who say that perhaps I have a bit of a Saving Stuff problem that kind of looks like I'm decorating with piles of junk. Kind of. But that's just some people's opinion.

Moving right along.

The moving company overseer (chief?) came by a few days ago to see how many boxes and time they might need for our household. We were scheduled for a pack-up today, and a pack-out tomorrow. This morning, Greg and I woke up at 6:30am to do the finishing touches on the house; the movers were supposed to be here sometime after 8:00am. Several hours later, the transportation lady (who coordinates the move) arrived, and was surprised to find no workers packing our house. A few phone calls and about 2 hours later, we got a return call from the moving company overseer, matter-of-factly stating that "Of course, we're coming tomorrow, and it will be no problem to pack you up and out on the same day. Of course." Of course.

Seeing as it's quite fun to be functioning in a holding pattern of manic cleanliness and organization with 4 small children, we see no problem with this, and we look forward to future moves. Heck, let's do a move every weekend! YAY!! International moves are so inspiring. The way people work together, communicate, and function as a unit. It's really quite beautiful.

I'm going to go cry into a giant mug of mocha. If you need me, I'll be rocking, arms over my head, in a corner somewhere in the attic. God help us all.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photo-post (i.e. I can't find the brain cells to use my words)

Since Greg got home on Wednesday morning, we've been in full-force Clean And Organize mode.  I have several posts floating around in my head, half-formulated, but I don't have the time to sit down and write them out properly just yet.  In their stead, here are some pictures of a rather lovely date that Greg took me out on just before he left for Texas a few weeks ago. This is our absolute favorite restaurant in the area, run by a three-star chef with an in-house Metzger (Butcher).

(The waitress always serves ice water to Americans -- most restaurants here don't even have ice!)

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tree Of Life UPDATE

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: The Tree of Life Shawl is dead.  It's short but unhappy life ended in a ripping session best left undescribed.

Complaints against said pattern include possible attempt to mangle the brain of a tired mommy over 10 days time, along with a remarkable effort to maim a pristine skein of Handmaiden Seasilk through tinking (knit - unknit, knit - unknit.)  To add to the list of greviences, the pattern had also taken away the joy of knitting with the Seasilk -- a crime that could not be forgiven.

The knitter holds no resentment towards the pattern or the designer, and even dreams of someday knitting it again... but for now, the yarn has been given new hope, being born anew into the Moonlight Sonata Shawl (Rav. link).  The first pattern repeat has been completed, and all things appear to be as they should.  Prognosis: hopeful.
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

Some of you have already heard this quote, but I need to share it here for posterity. Max has been biting Sparky and Daisy lately, leaving full sets of teeth marks. Yes, he is 4, and yes, it's awful. Yesterday morning, he bit Sparky, and afterwords, we had the following exchange: "Max, you may never, never, NEVER bite anyone." Max answered, deeply distressed and with great feeling, "But then my teeth won't be sharp and fast enough for lunch!"


Greg found a house for us in the Austin area, and has nailed down other details about our new life there as well. Back here in Germany, however, I've been feeling figity and anxious. I feel like there's so much left to be done, yet I have no energy or drive to do it alone. I also can't help but feel slightly put out that I'm the one that has to stay behind with the children, while Greg has this adventure off by himself. Of course, this is a completely unreasonable feeling -- there's no way we could have traded places; neither of us would have been very successful if we'd swapped jobs -- but the feeling's still there all the same. Thankfully, he'll be back in three days. Three days and counting. Every day, Max asks "but when will Daddy be coming home?!"

To add to my own personal complications, I've been attempting to knit the Tree Of Life shawl and it doesn't seem to agree with me; I've had to fix errors in it so many times now that I'm ready to throw it out the window. I won't though, because I like the yarn. I'll try not to throw anything else. (Please note: I cannot tell if it's the pattern that is in error or me -- it has been knit by a few other successfully, so I suspect I am the problem here.  This seems to be beyond my current focus-ability.)

Overall, however, home life here has been running along smoothly, and I've managed to keep things interesting and fun for the children so that the time goes by quickly.

Yesterday we walked to the Sandbox Playground (my children have so named it).  The trail we take is lined thickly with blackberry bushes, so I brought along a little crate so that we could pick berries along the way to take home. We managed to fill it all the way to the top.

There were also plums, I think, growing along with the blackberries at some point.

Can anyone verify that a plum is, indeed, what this is? (I don't feel like poisoning anyone.)

All of the little cowboys and cowgirl had a good time at the playground.

Daisy rode on this bouncy horse with Sparky:

Then Max thought that it would be fun to do that too:

Daisy felt that it was a little bit too exciting.

We blew Dandelion seeds to repopulate the earth with everyone's favorite weed (I know, I know, the gardeners out there are wincing):

(Max insisted on taking this picture of me)

Billy sat and watched everyone, feeling superior now that he can sit up All By Himself.

When we got home, we all ate Blackberry Fools and snickered at the name.

Whipped cream and a little bit of vanilla sugar boosted these tart berries into a rather lovely little treat.


Well, maybe this week hasn't so bad after all. Maybe it was just the knitting that was bad. Screw that shawl. I'm going to go knit a sock now.  (I've downloaded the rental "He's Just Not That Into You".  I fully intend to bliss out on empty brain food and mindless knitting.)
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Love Over Gold Scarf (and answers to frequently asked questions)

I've been looking through my email, trying to remember who I've gotten back to and who I have not, regarding questions that have been asked over the past few weeks. I'm afraid to say, I've gotten so delinquent that my inbox is swallowing me whole, and there's no way that I can dig myself out. Therefor, if you have not received an answer from me about something -- even if it was just a small question or whatever -- please ask me again! I really do want to be able to answer you; I feel terrible that some of the emails have slipped through the cracks.

Two questions, however, have been asked fairly often, so I will address them here:

Q.) Where in the heck are you moving in Texas? (Faith! Texas is a massive state!! Be specific!!)

A.) We are moving to somewhere very near Austin. I have been seeking out yarn shops and spinning/weaving/knitting guilds and groups in the general area, so if you have any information or tips for me, please don't hold back!

Q.) Where did you purchase your adorable red kitchenette set (as shown, for instance, in this picture)?

A.) It's Target's Red Lucy Chairs; the table doesn't seem to be on their site anymore, but it's similar to this one, and it flips to reveal either a white enamel side, or a faux wood grain veneer.)

Last weekend I finished up the scarf I was weaving!

Stats: 6-1/4" wide, 78" long (not including fringe).

I used my Southern Cross Fibre February Club (David's first club installment ever!), Polwarth, "Love Over Gold", 4 oz, 296 yds worsted weight. For accents in the warp, I also used two millspun yarns: Lang M.A.X. (thicker, dark purple), and Schachenmayr Nomotta Merino (thinner, light blue).

I love the way the textural contrast of the dark purple worked out, almost like corduroy, and the Polwarth (spun long-draw), gives the fabric both bounce, cush, and drape. (Nope, "cush" is not a word, and yes, I do intend to use it again in the future.) (Also, I've just realized that I can't say "both" and then list three things. But I already did.) (Here we go with those parenthesis again...)

I hemstitched the edge, as I have now become fond of doing. It just gives such a nice, neat finish to a woven piece. I didn't twist the fringe though, because I felt like the yarn was thick enough, and I like the way that there's distinctly different texture visible in that as well.

Overall, I'm very happy with it, and I'm sure my mom will love it. My brother was here when I cut it off the loom, and his first question was "Oh yeah? Well where's mine?!" Which means...I've got more weaving to do.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Well then. That was exciting.

Did you know that you could have the webbing between your toes glued back together? As it turns out, you can! And who might we have to thank for this little bit of trivia? Our dear friend Sparky.

(Seen here with Black Eyed Max, who was having an allergic reaction to some mosquito bites. Also, they both were sporting worn-out temporary tats on their cheeks. What a pair.)

Another bit of trivia: it is possible to slice the webbing of ones foot on the faucet spout of the bathtub if you've been Slippery Sliding fast enough. Not that Slippery Sliding is actually allowed or anything. In case you were wondering. I'm also not entirely clear as to what Slippery Sliding is, since I was out of the bathroom for that .05 seconds it took him to slice his foot in said spout. Oh dear. This all happened on Monday, of course, THE DAY AFTER GREG LEFT. Nice. Half the day spent in the ER later, we were home with glue between his toes.

(Here, you will note that Max was doing everything in his power to try to fall off of the examination table and split his head open. I mean, we were at the ER. Let's be reasonable now, Mommy.) (Also, the long stick Billy is holding is the Walking Stick that Sparky brought with him. If your gonna amp up the drama, it's all Go Big or Go Home with them.) (Is it even legal to have this many parenthesis in a row, and when will Faith stop all of this foolishness?) (Hopefully soon, as she has now taken up the uncalled for practice of referring to herself in the third person.) (Nothing to see here, moving right along then...)

OK, enough of that. Spinning! Yes! Let's talk about spinning.

A while back, I received this adorable bundle of fiber in a Swap For Scraps that had been organized by the lovely Amber Lee (by the way, you should seriously click through, because her photography is out of this world).

I decided that I wanted to spin it 3-ply, but I didn't want to make the colors muddy, so this is what I did. First, I organized the little fiber bumps in a way that pleased me.

Then, I ripped each little bundle into three pieces, as closely matched in length as I could. I then laid these little strips out in exactly the same color progression in three sets.

Next, I rolled each progression up into a ball (without pre-drafting).

I spun each ball of fiber on to a separate bobbin, then plied them all together yesterday. There was only one place that I had to break one of the singles, because I didn't like the way one color was bleeding into the next, but otherwise, I feel like it worked out exactly the way I'd imagined it in my head.

(On the Niddy-Noddy)

Better, even.

(Drying on the rack outside)

When it first came off of the final bobbin, freshly plied, it was a little papery feeling without a whole lot of life or bounce. After a soak in warm Eucalan water and then some nice whacks against the wall, it plumped up just a bit, and now that it's completely dry, it has a good bit of elasticity to it as well.

There's nothing like a fresh, sun-warmed skein, just off the rack.

Mmmmm, can you just smell the wool?

Specs: 4 oz, 3-ply, 14 wraps per inch (WPI), 412 yards.

I thought that I knew what I wanted to do with it, but now I'm not sure. Suggestions are very welcome. Although, this will not be a pair of socks. I refuse to wear non-superwash on my feet. At least not right now. (I couldn't bear to see them get accidentally destroyed in the wash, and my husband usually does the laundry, so these accidents could more easily happen...)

Excuse me now while I go eat a brownie. I'm telling you kids, with Ghiradelli boxed mix, you just can't miss.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Noro Socks!!! (And I'm on my own again for a little while..)

OK. I know that I said something about showing you some yarn I'm spinning in my next post, but...well, of course if I ever say something like that, you can be assured that I will do no such thing in the order promised. So here, instead, are some completed Noro Stripey socks. (Someone had asked me for the pattern via a comment here on the blog -- so sorry that I'm terribly behind on my email right now! But the pattern is here.)

Noro Stripey Socks

Noro Stripey Socks

I used a mostly gray colorway for the contrasting color, which I thought was a nice touch. It makes them a tiny bit more...well, matching is not the right word. Coordinating. Or something. Anyway, I love them.

Noro Stripey Socks

What can I say? Knitting these are just plain addictive.

Noro Stripey Socks

I've bought a mostly brown colorway of Noro Kureyon Sock for a future pair, because I was so fond of the way that the gray worked out. I think I should just always have a pair on the needles. It's probably necessary .

(For more details on this project, click through to the Ravelry page.)

Part of my business lately has been because we are now, full on, in earnest, starting to prepare ourselves for moving to Texas, which will happen in September. Greg left on Sunday for a week-and-a-half house-hunting trip to get our living arrangements nailed down, scope out the area, etc. It was hard to see him go, but at the same time, I'm excited to see what he finds for us there. In the meantime, however, this means that THIS HOUSE IS CRAZY BUSY. (And, to be honest, I'm just a bit jealous that he gets to go off by himself.)

If you've recently asked me questions via comments or email, please forgive me -- if it was really important, you might want to ask me again, because it's possible I've forgotten... not much is sticking in my brain this week. Apologies all around!!


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