Friday, January 18, 2013

Writing about writing.

I've launched a new blog "somewhere else."  Here's the link:

Thanks for sharing the knitternall world with me.  More than 125,000 page views and countless comments have made knitternall a delightful forum over the past few years.

Now I'm focusing on the craft that is also my primary livelihood:  writing, speaking, reading, researching, and all other forms of communication.

Join me!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


The Knitternall blog is on hiatus while I explore fresh steps and new ideas.  When I've developed what is currently a very nebulous idea into "what's next," I'll post a link here. Meanwhile, you can still find the recipes, patterns, and links that so many people have clicked through the years.

Thank you!

Monday, February 27, 2012


There's a direct correlation between the peaks and valleys of taking care of College Guy, High School Girl, and Scooter the Wonder Dog and nurturing the Knitternall blog-realm. Hence, the looooooooooong break between posts. If I thought the family was busy when the kids were little, that perception has most definitely changed.

Thanks to Council Guy's commitments, I've met many fascinating people who have broadened and deepened my viewpoints on education, community service, sustainability, child rearing, self-employment, and other issues of special interest to me. I am impressed with the stamina of people who wade through the logjams of public education, launch new businesses, wrestle with lifechanging legislation, and take leadership roles in civic organizations. 

I appreciate their positive spirit because I've been very frustrated with the state of public education in our own community. While excellence happens every day in the classroom, the vagaries of politics and "wait for it" breath-holding while the new superintendent decides what's next are considerable impediments to success. For example, the DHS School Council has asked DeKalb's central office to give us a year-long schedule instead of the year-in-a-semester Block Schedule for eight years.

Does it make sense only to the parents that students need year-long math and writing? Does the school system not see the negative impact on arts education with the highly restrictive block schedule? Can they not understand that having multiple schedule models within the same school system makes it impossible for students to transfer from one school to the next? Isn't it obvious that students with ADD/ADHD, a different native language, difficulty in a core academic subject, and developmental delays find the pace of instruction in a block schedule and the very long class periods to be particularly challenging? Do they not see the falling yearly scores for students who need support?


And each year, the central office comes up with another reason to keep the block schedule. They've mandated multiple surveys of parents/teachers/students, changed the rules and forms for making the request, "forgotten" to look at the paperwork until it's too late to act on it, and even neglected to tell the School Board that such changes would no longer come under their purview. The latest reason? That teachers would need special training to teach a year-long schedule, so administrators need another year to think about this.


Despite the chronically changing policies of the central office administration (and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Cheryl Atkinson's leadership will indeed improve things), Dunwoody High School, Peachtree Charter Middle School, and our local elementary schools thrive. Our high school ranks among the best in the state and the Southeast, graduates students with competitively high number of scholarships, acceptances to top colleges, and a high number of AP courses making them exempt from many freshman requirements.  Students' special interests in arts, music, athletics, service, scientific, and math advanced programs are satisfied with a robust selection of extracurricular activities. Teachers give far above and beyond the basic school day to their students.

That's what I try to remember when I'm beating my head against the bureaucratic wall.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A knitting problem?

Yesterday, someone introduced me then explained, "you'll know her because she's ALWAYS knitting."

True. Very true. I love the peace, calm, and meditative aspects of knitting. And I loathe waiting, long meetings, consensus-building discussions, adult team-making games, and intermissions. So I knit.

I also knit to keep my mouth shut. Somehow knitting squelches the urge to interrupt or opine needlessly.

I have edited some of the places where I used to knit. No more restaurants. Or carpool. Or the church pew. Though if my family keeps focusing on smart phones rather than conversation, I may have to revert to that previously embarrassing-to-them public behavior.

I am a knitter ... much more relaxed than anyone around me regardless the tedium or tumult.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Now I know how to read a bag of fertilizer. (Experienced gardeners, go ahead and snicker.) The vastness of my ignorance was the catalyst for applying to the DeKalb County Extension Office's Master Gardener program. My yard and vegetable garden are testament to the trial and error approach that has resulted in more errors than I can count.

One class and I decided:

1. I need a tiller. Because unless I'm going to landscape the yard in raised beds the whole thing needs churning and turning.

2. Learning soil science in two and a half hours is like drinking from a fire hose.

3. Pressure cookers have come a long way since my grandmother's day when explosions were a real threat.  (I got that gem from a lifetime canner/preserver who lives on a family farm. She could TEACH the master gardener program but thought she still has much to learn so she signed up.)

During class, I ignored the edict to turn off my cell phone (it's never off since my kids have to be able to reach me in an emergency) and instead silenced it and set it next to my iPad.

While we have lost much of the intrinsic lore related to self-reliant vegetable gardening (my grandparents KNEW when to plant, where to plant, when to harvest, how to can/preserve, and how to enrich soil without chemicals ...) we have gained amazing tools giving us access to a plethora of knowledge via the internet.

When the Soil Science Master opined on chemicals to balance alkalinity and acidity for various plants, I consulted an organic gardening website to see the alternative methods available because I prefer a more "natural" approach.  I snapped photos  of graphs and data I couldn't transcribe quickly or neatly enough with note-taking or the Penultimate app. I looked up a gardening book recommended by another intern and ordered it with my one-click account on Amazon.  And I used one of the breaks to review flash card apps I'll utilize to master the vocabulary and concepts I need to know to pass the final exam (it's a certification program).

The only thing my electronic tools couldn't do was prevent the mid-afternoon sleepy slump that unfortunately coincided with the basic botany lesson. Note to self: extra Diet Coke in the lunch bag for that post-prandial lull.

My bucket list has a new check for "Learn something new every year."  The Master Gardener class is intellectually stimulating, evocative, and physically challenging (thanks to the 50 required volunteer service hours in the field), so it's a great foundation for 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When your college student comes home ...

I've heard many, many stories about the give and take required to live peacefully during winter and summer breaks with college students more accustomed to making their own decisions than following their parents' lead.

I get it. Fortunately for me, and in spite of my overachieving ways, my son is too innately kind and tolerant to remind me that he's already demonstrated the ability to take care of himself, thank you very much.

College Guy stumbled downstairs this morning to let the dog out and get some breakfast. I've been up for awhile and am in full "morning person" mode. He's bleary-eyed, appalled at rising before noon during a break from school, and absolutely not tuned in.

Me:  "Good morning! We're going to Stone Mountain today. Want to come? Did you bring your dirty clothes downstairs? Because I have a load going into the washing machine shortly and you can add yours if you want. Did that computer science class open up yet? I'm trying to decide about dinner tonight so let me know if you have a preference."

College Guy: "Wait ......................... What?"

Poor guy. Even as a toddler, he was slow to get going in the mornings. The difference was that I could just pick him up, toss him into the car seat, and head out while he stared vacantly out the window.

I have no idea how he gets himself up at school ... I'm just glad he does. He kept up with his medicine and his appointments, managed not to lose too much weight because he didn't want to bother going to the dining hall or grocery store, didn't lose his laptop or his cell phone, discovered that drying his beloved cargo pants takes twice as long as any other load, caught up after missing a week of school when he was hospitalized with an intestinal blockage, ate nothing but junk food and the occasional pear, went hiking at midnight with roommates "just because," celebrated his birthday with campus friends, saw first-hand what "stupid drunk" really means, and kept his grades up.

Yay for that critical first Freshman semester DONE.

For College Guy's birthday, I shipped a box full of party gear, including moustaches, a crown, pin the tail on the donkey game, party hats and blowers, glow in the dark necklaces, and candy. Goofy stuff. We had pizza delivered to his dorm, timed for the end of finals for the day. Evidently the moustaches were a particular hit with the girls, all of whom wore one for the duration.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Raking in the fall.

I love fall weather. I love the glorious blue skies, crispness in the air, swirling leaves, and disappearance of gnats, mosquitoes, and flies.

Raking those swirling leaves, however, brings out my inner procrastinator. While my neighbors industriously rake those leaves onto tarps and bag them into 30+ brown sacks each week or landscape crews make quick work of the chore with their major-league blowers, I stare gloomily at the rising tide and think of lots of other things I need to do instead.

I'm not alone. Evidently, a lot of people try to come up with ways to make the chore easier, or at least more interesting.

I have wide rakes and hand rakes; bag-hold-em-openers and a wet vac that supposedly will suck up leaves (not); High School Girl, College Guy (occasionally), and Campaign Guy to join me in the "fun" and  an electric blower to help move the mass onto huge tarps.

I sure miss the weekly leaf pick-up where we lived in North Carolina - you just blew and raked everything to the curb and a single truck would vacuum everything up.

A human-powered alternative to those smelly, loud gas-powered backpack blowers blaring across Dunwoody throughout the fall.
No matter what I try, I'm still raking leaves every week through Christmas. When I order pine straw from DHS' Cross Country team, it's knowing I'll have to store it until all the leaves are off the trees. The Troop 764 Boy Scout pine straw sale falls nicely in the spring to cover the comingled leaves and pine straw left after winter storms drive the remaining leaves down from the trees.

Okay, enough whining about the leaves. The yard is well covered and needs raking.

After I do the grocery shopping, laundry, and carpool duties. Is it going to rain? I need to wait until the leaves are dry. Wait, I need to bake for the Marching Band end of season cookout. So maybe I should wait until next week.