Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The ectasy and the agony

Check out the Central Park Hoodie. AG couldn't wait to put it on. I customized it for her - knitted it in pink, sewed in a zipper (a first for me), and reveled in the luscious, meticulous knitting of every row and cable.

We wanted to soften the yarn a bit, so I soaked it in cold water. Okay, I washed it in cold water, ready to lay it out and block it.

That's right, fellow knitters. I washed it. And it promptly felted, oh so slightly. It's smaller now (it actually fits her better, but it won't for as long as I was hoping).

Unbelieveably bone-headed of me. So I am ecstatic with the results of my first major knitted sweater. And agonizing over the lightly felted results.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Yes, we got no gas

We here in Atlanta must be stoooopid. That seems to be the opinion of Governor Perdue and company.

Our state government keeps telling us the gas shortage is all in our minds. That we're the problem. That there's PLENTY of gas in the Atlanta metro, it's just not where we live.

Excuse me! A report just noted that only 10% of gas stations in the ginormous Atlanta metropolitan area have gas at any given time. I'm no statistician, but that just doesn't add up to PLENTY of gas.

There's NO gas in Dunwoody. Well, every now and then a tanker shows up, drops off a bit of regular at the Chevron, and moves on. A line promptly forms down Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, inches through, empties the tank, and bags go back on the handles.

(Curiously, the BP station at the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Mt. Vernon Roads runs out of gas all the time. I figure it must be the exotic blend the EPA requires Atlanta to sell, which is harder to produce.)

It must be a sign of our economically abysmal times: bags on gas station handles. Grocery bags, yellow made-for-the-purpose bags, leaf bags, you name it - gas station operators are very busy with the yes-we-have-it, no-we-don't hourly update for passing motorists.

I've cut even further back on travel, but our family has some must-do appointments: Remicade infusion for A today, a Quiz Bowl competition for AG tomorrow. Other than those, we'll stay close to home this weekend and hope there's available gas early next week when the mom-bus needs a refill.

This is not fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Knitting carpet

For more than 10 years, ever since we moved into this house, I've winced every time I passed through the family room. That's a lot of wincing since we spend 80% of our time together there. The cause of my unhappiness? Dark green carpet. While the rest of the house is carpeted and tiled in blissful beige, the family room was clad in darkness. That green carpet sucked all the light out of the windows. We didn't replace it initially because we planned to install hardwoods. Then came Crohn's Disease and a stuttering economy, and ten years passed.

The ugly carpet is finally gone.

One of my freelance clients, a family friend, decided to compensate me with a Visa gift card. I really did the work pro bono, but they insisted. So we decided to use the windfall on the family room carpet.  Hello, Empire! (Who else would do a single room without charging a huge surcharge? Believe me - I shopped around. Empire was quite reasonable and the installation crew amazingly adept and helpful.)

The kids noticed the light first. Then T was struck by how much roomier the space looks. I'm thrilled by the consistent palette throughout the first floor. Hurray!

It's a shallow thing, in this time of economic turmoil, to spend money on carpet for a single room. But the benefits to our family - light, most of all - are satisfying to the soul.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Knitting flashback

Well, for goodness sake. I was a post-college English teacher, then ad agency copywriter in the me-me-me 80's and dressed the part. Big shoulders, peplum waists, touseled hair, Rayban sunglasses, men's hats, long blazers over jeans, bows at my neck, and layers were the look, and I was all about looking good.

I just trolled Ravelry and discovered that Garn Studio is unveiling a NEW line of designer knitwear patterns.

Flashback time. They're totally 80's. And I think they're SUPER.
I loved the 80's. I loved the clothes, the Bmers, Miami Vice, Genesis, James Taylor, the stock market, and the ad business. It was narcissistic, fun, and freewheeling. I had a blast.
Now I'm older, entrenched in momhood, sub-urbanity, an on-the-brink disaster of an economy, and helping to support outdoor education in Dunwoody. My generation is less narcissistic, more cautious, and bridging the gap between want and need with greater wisdom.
It'll be fun to see if today's 20-somethings embrace our 80's look. It would be a decided improvement over the tight jeans, bared waists and cleavage, tissue thin tees of the past decade (that's the mom in me speaking).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A perfectly Dunwoody day

Last evening, I sipped champagne and nibbled on fresh bread dipped in herbed olive oil with two wonderful friends.  Our gathering was impromptu, catalyzed by the death of a mom this week who leaves so much sadness in her wake.  We felt the need to celebrate life, and its inherent vulnerability. I left too soon, pulled home by my son's ever-encroaching homework load and chores that never end and so many things that take time and leave no time for the spirit.

Though I awakened this morning to a long list of to-do's, T and I nonetheless managed to walked over to Hickory House for our breakfast date. I'm so glad we did. It turned a busy day into a perfectly Dunwoody day.

Hickory House was packed, as always, and the usual mix of old, young, working, retired mingled over fluffy biscuits, wonderful country gravy, crispy bacon, and bowls of grits. We walked back in the cool fall breeze and enjoyed catching up with each other . . . the state of the financial market, the upcoming presidential election, the activities of our children, our work commitments, and more. We passed several people we knew, stopped mid-intersection to chat with a friend from church, and waved as friends honked from their passing cars. 

Now the guys are off to support a fellow Scout's Eagle project fundraiser (yum . . . cookout at the Sandy Springs fire station where he built a much-needed shed) and the girls are headed to the movies to meet three more of their group of friends (I'll be on premises to chaperone, but out of sight to give them the illusion of independence - they're still just 11!)

 It's Homecoming week at Dunwoody High School as well.  Lots of fun - dress-up days, a parade of homemade class floats, the election of the Homecoming Court, the big game today, and the Homecoming Dance tonight. 

Tonight, we'll grill steaks and enjoy this first sign of cooler days ahead (though, as Southerners, we well know that it's just as likely to be 90 degrees for Halloween). No sleepovers, no commitments - just some much-appreciated family time. I'll sew the zipper on the Central Park Hoodie, add a handle to the felted bag I made for an upcoming auction, and knit a few more rows on a prayer shawl. Bliss!

The week has been filled with joy and sadness, too much work and not enough time, but today, it's a perfect day to be in Dunwoody.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Knitting kindness

"Back in the day," when T and I were earnest 20-something campaign workers, I was introduced rather abruptly to the more uncomfortable side of politics. As we distributed flyers, put up yard signs, talked to neighbors during block parties, attended rallies, and generally tried our best to support our candidate, we were often faced by someone who REALLY  didn't like our candidate/position/issue/volunteer work. T always handled the chewing out with aplomb, while I was a stammering mess. 

I've been invigorated by the campaigns for Dunwoody cityhood and, most recently, our first Mayor and City Council. Neighbors and friends have stepped forward to serve and done so as graciously as you could wish for. 

Now for the not-fun part.

The wonderful Wittenstein family has been gracious and positive, even when others have not been. 

I was just visiting John Heneghen's blog, posting my congrats for his win of an at-large seat, and saw one poster's virulent criticism of him, his wife, and his campaign. Oh, dear. JustMom really, really doesn't like John. 

That's the side of public service that I don't have thick enough skin to handle. I'm grateful for the people who are willing to serve and tough enough to handle the myriad opinions and issues they'll wrestle with as they shape this city of Dunwoody. 

A very dear friend whose husband served many years on the City Council of Greensboro, NC and Board of Commissioners of Guilford County (NC) learned very early in their marriage to smile politely, make very unequivocal remarks, and leave the politics to her  Semper Fi spouse. (No June Cleaver, my friend was and is smart enough to know that her husband was elected, not her, so her opinion was private and not subject to discussion.) It was never easy, but when you love someone who chooses public service, you learn to handle things.

Thanks, John. You had my vote, and will continue to have my support. And tell your wife not to read the blogs!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Knit-Along Cooperative


Want to learn to knit?

Coming back from a knitting hiatus?

Ready to talk a lot and have a couple of hours just for YOU?

Join the Knit-along Cooperative!  

When:  Sundays, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

Where:  Location - Library of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church (upstairs, above Manhasset Street Entrance Lobby) in Dunwoody

A "knit-along" means that we will choose a project to knit together and enjoy the many splendid variations in execution. Some projects can be completed in a week. Others will take more time. (If you don't want to knit along, you can certainly have your own Work In Progress!)  As a "cooperative," we'll share techniques, ideas, resources, and help in a spirit of fellowship and fun

Project #1:  Mitered Square

Materials Needed:

Size 10 or 10 1/2 straight needles + 1 partial skein worsted weight yarn - solid, hand-dyed, striped, space-dyed, or heathered (if you want to play with color, choose 2-3 remnants of complementary colors)


Size 5 or 6 straight needles + 1 partial skein sock yarn


Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm knitting as fast as I can

I did it again. I'm working furiously on the Central Park Hoodie (which is taking way longer thanks to an overbooked calendar) and I just agreed to make a prayer shawl for someone leaving our church AND something for a charity auction. Both are needed by the first of November.


I keep doing this. I take on freelance assignments when I'm really, really busy with work and volunteer jobs. I agree to sit on a committee when the meeting times conflict with carpool and afterschool tutors. I start a knitting circle that coincides with the once a month cotillion class because it's really the only open slot in my week. 

The real problem is that I want to do EVERYTHING I've committed to. I'm not feeling compelled at all. Somehow it all works, though not without considerable angst when the perfect storm of conflicting appointments crashes down on us all. I try to shoulder that impact, but I'm not always able to keep it away from the family. 

All of which makes me relate to Sarah Palin. 

I was just listening a reprise of Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin on NPR this morning. It's exasperating to hear so much attention given to a candidate's ability to balance work and family, to deal with the logistics of campaigning, governing, wifing, momming, and friending. Frankly, the patronizing is wearing very thin.  Media yackers like to say they're just asking the questions America wants. As if. Most women in America do the juggling act every day and understand that one can be effective when schedules and priorities run in tandem. 

Now it's time for the old boy network and eager beaver talking heads to figure it out.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life is good. Thanks to everyone in a uniform.

Of course 9-11 makes us reflective. It should. I am immeasurably blessed to have my life intact post 9-11 because one person decided to put on a uniform. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, firefighter, police officer, paramedic . . . thank you for choosing to serve.

My father served in Korea and Vietnam. He doesn't talk about his service very much because it was so darned bad. There's a Bronze Star in a bureau and some paperwork locked away in a box. But he's proud, and I'm proud of him, and thankful he came home to us.

My friend's husband served in Iraq and came home safely. He lost colleagues and friends at the Pentagon.

My classmate's father was one of the Vietnam POW's who never made it home. 

Bad people who do bad things touch each of us. But thanks to good people who choose to do the right thing, we in America can live free.

I hope you appreciate just how good we have it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wish list for the new City of Dunwoody

Everyone is weighing in with the "what-if's" for our fledgling city. Practicalities are paramount and must be our primary focus in the first few years.

Meanwhile, there are some quality of life wishes I'd love to see woven into the fabric of our community.

  • A community garden (modeled after Oakhurst Community Garden in Decatur), located at the Chestnut Farm property. It's a cozy spot in the heart of town, has been largely ignored by the county which currently owns it. I know the Dunwoody Preservation Trust will take excellent care of the facility if the county deeds it to us, so maybe they'd entertain the idea of a working garden managed by volunteers.
  • A "gateway" feature at the intersection of Ashford-Dunwoody and Mt. Vernon Roads. How about a large, recycling fountain with its own well? (I take no credit for this great idea - the ever-imaginative Susan Mitchell suggested it!)
  • Ordinances supporting a "sustainable" Dunwoody, including solar power installations, home gardening, and small chicken coops as well as a recycling center where we can drop everything off right here in the community.
  • An effort to change the laws in Georgia so that we can create a Dunwoody School System, which would surely be far better than the abysmal management we currently endure by the DeKalb County School System.
  • A definitive sign ordinance that correlates all signage in the new city, requiring retail and business properties to follow strict guidelines no matter when they were first installed (no grandfathering).
  • An electronic interface with City Hall that allows citizens to email, make requests for services, and pay any  necessary fees through the internet. That means someone on staff is actively managing the website and making sure it's proactive.
I love Dunwoody. It's great to live here!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Knitting inside the square

Happy Sunday! Today will be filled with St. Luke's Presbyterian Church's first-ever Homecoming celebration, a potluck lunch, the start of a new Youth Group year this evening with our new Youth Minister, Phil Brown, and some quiet time in between to enjoy just being together.

I had a really good time yesterday morning. I took a Square-Foot Gardening class at the Oakhurst Community Garden in Decatur, with the comfy and knowledgeable team of Bob and Lyn Bernstein.  It was sunny, very hot, and we dodged red ants and bees the entire time . . . conditions that added a happy dose of nostalgia to the lesson. A group of students from nearby Agnes Scott College were volunteering, working hard with clearing invasives and past-their-prime growth and composting merrily in the heat. 

Midway through our class, the staff released the chickens from their coop. They strutted throughout the garden, observing us with some disdain and engorging themselves on the wealth of bugs and worms hopping among the vegetables.  Oakhurst is a charming bit of real-world practicality in the heart of Decatur, with its juxtaposition of urban sensibility and small-town values.

I can't wait to build our box this winter. The timing is perfect since I have plenty of time to prepare the ground and work on the compost bin.

The afternoon was busy as usual, but I did sneak in half an hour of knitting on the sleeves of the Central Park Hoodie for AG. I really want to finish that so I can start on a sweater coat for myself. It'll be a design-as-I-go proposition, but I have the basic structure in mind.

It's time for church.  What a splendid way to begin the week!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Governor Palin and I are multi-tasking

Imagine. A woman who can be a mom, wife, elected official, friend, and candidate . . . all at the same time. The tsking from pundits with very little to do except carp has tickled me no end. "How will she take care of her family if she's off running a campaign?" Excuse me? Is this the 1950's? 

Because any woman - every woman - gets it.

At the moment, I'm

  • Laminating the covers to the Preschool Phonics workbooks that will be printed and bound next week for this year's classes.
  • Browning eight pounds of turkey to make chili for the Youth Group supper Sunday night.
  • Grilling streak strips for Philly Cheesesteaks for supper.
  • Sipping a glass of wine and blogging.
  • Running a load of dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Running a load of laundry through the washing machine.
  • Getting ready to help son A understand an AP World History assignment so he can chart it this weekend.
  • Organizing a freelance assignment I'm working on all weekend.
  • Letting the dog out for the umpteenth time because he's convinced there's a squirrel out there he hasn't yet terrorized.
Yep. Multi-tasking. Governor Palin will do just fine.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Knit a titfer

A news bit from the UK grabbed my eye: "Knit a titfer to top up aid pot."




Since I don't speak Brit, I imagined all kinds of off-color activity, quite outside the realm of main-stream knitting. So I Googled, and:

Noun1.titfer - a hat (Cockney rhyming slang: `tit for tat' rhymes with `hat')

Oooohh. They're knitting hats. For charity.

So a titfer can be any kind of topper, from modest tams to more elaborate concoctions. And knitting a titfer is a generous thing for a knitter to do, particularly as cold weather approaches.  However, the Brits have added a twist: these tifters aren't for toffs. They're for bottles:

As part of the national campaign, people are asked to knit tiny woolly hats which will sit on Innocent Smoothie bottles that will be sold in Sainsbury’s stores in November.
Gotta love knitters.