Thursday, November 30, 2006

Extreme Holiday

Thanksgiving week was truly a week of extremes.

My daughter came home for a week.

We had traditional Thanksgiving with my husband's family and enjoyed so much getting to see a cousin once removed (yes i know what that is) from Paraguay whom we last saw 8 years ago. It was a peaceful and relaxing day full of good conversation.

We had soup and bread Thanksgiving at my house with my family and enjoyed a long relaxing day together. The menu was simple to keep my stress level down and it worked very well. Others had great contributions to the food. My nephews got to help feed the pigs (or at least watch the pigs be fed).

After everyone went home my son got angry with me and couldn't bring himself back down from that. The result was a showdown between a 12 year old with a fireplace poker and three sheriffs. It also included an ambulance ride and a stay at a mental health facility. He came home today and things are tenuous. Everyone is still a bit on pins and needles.

Monday my daughter had four interviews followed by four job offers.

Tuesday we looked at houses and she put a contract on her favorite.

Wednesday we checked into loans.

I gave up on nanowrimo, but not on my story. It won't be a book, but it is good for me somehow and I want to keep working on it.

Coming up, a weekend away with my husband to our favorite getaway, thanks to a gift of childcare and chores from my son and daughter-in-law and to some wonderful supportive care for my more angry son from my very good friend and her husband.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

crazy or what?

I don't have time, I know, but I had a few extra minutes in town and I was parked in front of the new yarn store. This is wool from a women's cooperative in Uruguay. I'll find a way.

Monday, November 13, 2006

yin and yang

It has been a nasty nasty weekend with a pretty good ending and a couple of bright spots in the middle.

We had major blowouts at home on Saturday and this morning culminating in an afternoon of play away from our family for one of the boys today and and early bedtime last night for the same boy. Tonight he is much meeker, but I'm still on edge a bit. But...after the early bedtime I got to watch Million Dollar Baby, which was very worth watching, and this afternoon I attended Youth Symphony and had a wonderful time imagining that my son was playing a solo on his horn.

He was playing his horn. He was the only horn player playing, even though previously he'd told me that the other player was playing the first part on all the pieces that had two horn parts. And at the end of the piece when the conductor motioned for the soloists to stand, he stood. So I thought he'd just kept this really great secret from us all that he had a solo.

But I was wrong. He was playing alone because the other horn player kept losing her place so she would put her horn down and wait for the next cue. He stood up for the soloists because at the last youth symphony concert when the conductor made that motion, he wanted all the winds to stand. So my son stood, and then smiled because only one other wind player was standing---the flutist who had a brief solo.

And after the boys' bedtime tonight I got another nearly 2,000 words written on nanowrimo, so although I'm not even close to being on track with the schedule, I AM motivated again. Goodnight. :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm still here, sort of

For those of you who are still checking this site, thank you so much.

I’d like to say that I haven’t been posting because I have made so much progress on my nanowrimo project, but I haven’t written a word anywhere since Sunday. It has been quite a week.

We’ve had harvest, medical tests, an in house theft (meaning one of us stole from another of us and we had to spend three days figuring it out and setting it straight), a son moving into a correctional facility, and all the regular stuff.

Harvest ended yesterday, so now the summer farm work is officially over and I can get to know my husband again---YEA!

Feelings are beginning to simmer down from the in house theft.

There will still be lots to process with the correctional facility stuff. We had a very good visit with my son at the detention facility two days before he was moved. He was friendly and talkative and seemed glad to see us. But he isn’t anywhere close to being someone that would be safe for society yet and that is such a sobering and heavy thing.

So far so good on the medical stuff.

The regular stuff? I tried making hummus yesterday. True to my usual “try to do too much” style I ended up with 8 cups of cooked chick peas. This works out to a very large quantity of hummus. I like it. I made half of it plain and half with some sour cream and cumin and cayenne. There is a lot of it. Did I already say that? It is a huge quantity for a family that hasn’t eaten much hummus before. But a lot of it will go into the freezer for future fun and easy meals.

I baked bread a couple of times this week.

I painted the second coat on the walls of the spare bedroom. Actually I don’t know if I did that this week or the end of last, but I took the tape off the edges and moved the furniture out of the middle of the room this week for sure. The color is called ‘melon popsicle’. Whenever I see that color with the grayish blue of the carpet I think of the Bronco’s without any intensity---Broncos Lite, I guess. It still needs something, but I’m not a decorator in either aptitude or desire. I’d rather be content with walls that looks smooth and clean, even if it isn’t Martha Stewart or feng shui.

We had cheese dip this week.

Three practices this week culminate in a Sunday afternoon performance for youth symphony and then the fall season is over.

OK. Now I’m going to go write terribly in my nanowrimo that has no real name or plot or even believable characters, but is great writing practice WHEN I actually do it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Movies and Books

That movie I wrote about yesterday is part of my fall from grace last week. I was at the local grocery store minding my own business when I saw the brightly colored sign that said, "ALL DVDS NOW 50% OFF MARKED PRICE. EVERYTHING MUST GO." I hesitated a moment, then nonchalantly sauntered into the video department to check what the marked prices were. I think it was nonchalant. I may have been running. I remembered to leave my cart outside the video department.

The marked prices were $5.95! I could buy dvds for less than $3! Well, with tax...but still! I started looking through the titles. I was looking the way I look for a movie to watch. Do I want this one more? Or should I put it back and get this other one? And then I thought, "Three dollars! They are only three dollars! I don't have to stand here and agonize. I can just pick out all the ones I like and buy them."

The selection had already been narrowed down quite a bit before they so drastically reduced the prices. They were using less than a fourth of their shelving for the remaining stock. So I took one here and another one there. I should have maybe thought twice when it started to be hard to hold them all. But there was another one I'd wanted to see and never rented. Shoot, three dollars was nearly the cost of a rental. I should just get it.

I got twenty. When I got home I told my son and my husband that I'd bought the video store. But that's what I say when I've bought just a few. They came out to help me carry in the groceries and I handed my son a bag full of dvds. He started laughing out loud. We brought them in and sorted through them and I wondered, was that some concern on my husband's face? Was he thinking I'd gone too far? Well, if he was then I'd probably have to admit he was right.

Which was why when we were finishing our quick supper at Wendy's that evening I was completely shocked when he suggested we take our 12 and 13 year olds to get a couple more movies. So we did. They each picked two, and I got three more...because I found one more shelf I hadn't seen earlier.

The next day my 13 year old asked the terrible question. "So Mom, how much did you spend on movies all together?" "Oh it couldn't be that much. They were only three dollars each except for that one for four and that one for five." My husband laughed. "You got nearly 30 movies for $3 each. Do the math."

Oh my goodness. I'm the one always preaching about not owning so much so we can give more to people who have less than we do. And I blew nearly $90 on movies. And they are non-returnable.

So I was stupid. But I'm still generous. All my friends are borrowing movies from me now.

* * * * * * * * *

I'm doing nanowrimo. My husband wasn't excited because it could mean my neglecting all my duties to write all the time, so I made rules for myself. Devotions before writing. Family before writing. Nobody gets crazy if I don't make my goal. Three very good rules.

I probably won't make my goal, but my husband was reading over my shoulder this evening and said this wonderful thing. "Who knows, maybe you'll be even better at novels than you are at your other writing."

This novel, though, will never be published. A long time ago I read that every writer's first novel is a self involved story of their life, thinly disguised. So I'm giving myself to that whole-heartedly. This story would seriously give away too many secrets to ever even consider putting into print. But so far I'm having a wonderful time. And I can get all that catharsis out of my system and write something much more uplifting next year. Three days down, twenty-seven to go.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tommy, Paperclips, Mistakes

A couple of days ago I heard one of the songs from the rock opera, “Tommy” by The Who. Suddenly I was in Jr. High again, sitting in the basement at my cousin’s house. He was one of those brilliant kids who had interests far beyond what he studied in school. He had purchased a reel-to-reel tape player and had taped all his LP records and all the records of his friends. He showed me the intricacies of threading the tape through the machine and explained why a reel-to-reel tape player was so much better than any other form of listening to recorded music. He could get three albums on a reel, if I remember right. He wanted me to hear Tommy, because he liked it so much. “That deaf, dumb, blind kid sure plays a mean pinball…” Thirteen years old seems like light years ago.

* * * * * * * *

We watched the documentary “Paperclip” this evening. Maybe tomorrow I’ll watch the special features on the second disc. There was a small town in Tennessee where all the children but a handful were white and protestant. The principal of the middle school there wanted those children to learn about diversity and respect for those different from themselves. They chose to teach about the Holocaust every year in eighth grade.

The kids could not grasp the number 6 million and asked if they could collect something to make it real. The teachers told them to do some research to find something appropriate to collect. The paperclip was invented in Norway. When the Jews of Norway were forced to wear gold stars, the people of Norway started wearing paperclips on their collars to honor the Jews they knew. The eighth graders began collecting paperclips.

It took several years. As the project progressed it took new turns and twists. Some German journalists came to visit and then wrote about it for German newspapers. Paperclips began to arrive from Germany, including one old suitcase purchased by students in a German school who had each written a letter to Anne Frank apologizing for the history that ended her life.

It was reported on national television news one year on Passover. Paperclips poured in. People sent them in honor of relatives who died in prison camps. Letters came telling the stories. Then a group of survivors from New York City came to this tiny Tennessee town. The whole town gathered at a local church and one by one the survivors told their stories. Now there were faces to the pain.

Twenty-nine million paper clips were eventually sent to this little school. They needed some place to keep them. The principal one day wished aloud that they could store the paperclips in a German rail car that was used during the Holocaust. The journalists from Germany told her they would make it happen. The whole town designed the memorial and worked with the display, the landscaping, and the protection from weather.

The eighth graders decided to put 11 million of the paperclips into the rail car; 6 million for the Jews who lost their lives, and 5 million for the gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others the Germans exterminated.

Seeing the inside of that rail car on a screen is heart wrenching, knowing the incredible sorrow and anguish and fear that car once held. Those who were present in Tennessee and could step inside it were visibly moved by the echoes of what had gone before.

* * * * * * * * * *

I had a nasty surprise today. I finished the second sleeve of the sweater I’m knitting. Now all I need to do is sew it together and knit the ribbing around the neckline. I took the newly knitted sleeve and laid it against the first sleeve I had knit. There was a noticeable difference in length. The second sleeve had two less cables knit into it than the first. How could I have done this? I had charted every single row!

I went back to my graph paper where I had written out the way I had changed the pattern for the first sleeve. I had followed every instruction but the last one. “Add two cables before changing the pattern.” Now I need to unravel it and redo the top half of the sleeve.

That used to be enough discouragement for me to put the project away for good. But I am more mature now :-). Besides, I paid a lot for this wool and mohair blend of yarn made by Peace Fleece, a place that blends wools from the US and from Russia as one more way to promote peace and understanding. I picked a pattern harder than anything I’ve made before. This one will NOT get the best of me. It will just take a while longer, that’s all.