Sunday, October 31, 2010

I hate robo calls.

Dear Candidate for (Fill in the Blank):

I hate your automated phone calls.

I am not influenced by your friend, party associate, or name-in-the-headlines endorsement of your candidacy.

I decided quite awhile ago whom I would vote for, from our state governor to our local school board representative.

Nonetheless, in the past two weeks, our family has received 52+/- robo calls for various political candidates.

We're on the "do not call" list, but evidently that doesn't prevent this constant bombardment by office wannabes.

For anyone else, this would be a form of cyber-stalking.

But it's political season. So you are allowed to interrupt our homework time, dinner hour, and bedtime rituals with your incessant, loud, insistent pleas to VOTE FOR fill in the blank.

Please go away.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christmas knitting.

For the past five years, I've knitted dishcloths for my kids' teachers and presented a set of three with some handmade soap during the holidays.

Why dishcloths?
  • They're fun to knit.
  • The cotton yarn makes a sturdy, mildew-resistant, longlasting dishcloth.
  • I get to play with patterns: Ballband and Chinese Waves, Waffle and Checkerboard, Grandma's Favorite and Tweed, Circles and Lineoleum.
  • They're gender-neutral - everyone can use a dishcloth (or three).
  • They're practical AND unique.
The teens have a total of 12 teachers between them. The volume of knitting will go down next year because my oldest heads to college (I don't think college professors are expecting gifts from parents). I'll actually miss the lengthy giving list because that'll be another door closed on my kids' childhood.

I'm nearly finished with the teachers' sets. Next, I want to knit some for hostess gifts and just-in-case giving.

And a few more for myself. My last batch, knitted a few years ago, is finally showing some wear.

Knitternall 100 Giveaway Reminder:  When my "followers" total 100, I'll give away a hand knit lace shawl in your choice of colors to one chosen at random! (The pattern is Haruni by Emily Ross.)

Happy knitting!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Holiday Shopping at St. Luke's!

Knitternall is also Shoppernall during the pre-holiday season. Between knitting gifts and finding special things for dear ones, this is a really fun time of year.

I highly recommend one of my favorite venues: St. Luke's Presbyterian Church Preschool (aka Little Saints) has an annual Shopping Spree that is a high quality, easy to navigate experience.

Stop by:

Wednesday, November 3, 9 am - 1 pm and 5-8pm
Thursday, November 4, 9 am - 1 pm

St. Luke's is located at 1978 Mt. Vernon Road in Dunwoody.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dunwoody - the Discount City?

When I saw this yesterday:

I immediately thought of this:

I have worked on many, many branding campaigns, so I fully appreciate the challenge and inherent risks in creating a position from scratch.  It's impossible to please everyone and sometimes ideas get watered down in committee because of some mythical concept of consensus or everyone is so darned tired of debating and pontificating that the loudest voice wins.

I love Dunwoody because of the people who are Dunwoody.  I want to love the logo because I know a lot of people worked hard on it.

But I can't.

The logo and tagline do not express the dynamic that is Dunwoody.

If we're so smart, why are we so derivative?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dunwoody Music Festival

What do John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Pat Metheny, and a bunch of middle school students have in common?


Many of today's top jazz musicians played their first notes in school bands and orchestras.

Saturday morning, at 10:00 am on the Brook Run Stage, Peachtree Charter Middle School's Blue Shadow jazz band and percussion ensemble will perform in two separate sets. The kids have been practicing many  new pieces, including improv parts by several soloists, and their new shirts look spiffy.

It's going to be another great day in Dunwoody ... and another reason I'm so glad to call this wonderful town "home."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Team of the Week?

Dunwoody High School is in the running to be Fox 5's Team of the Week. Which means legions of students, parents, and friends in the community are perched on the Fox 5 website, clicking DHS Wildcats and entering the "gotcha" code.

I'm one of them!

When I'm on hold, I'm punching in numbers.

While I wait for the dryer cycle to end, I enter a few more votes.

Just before I head to work ... a few more votes. I had the personal satisfaction of watching the counter click past 19,000 votes this morning. Since each time I vote the counter ratches up a few more notches, I know someone else is doing the same thing.

Come on, Dunwoody ... this is OUR high school. Root, root, root for the home team!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Constant Contact Is Giving Me a Constant Headache.

I know just enough about email template programs to know that the background html code can be a pain in the watoosie. My current battle with Peachtree Middle School's enews has me pulling my hair and grinding my teeth. The input, preview, and test email all look PERFECT. Then, when it hits the e-waves to the 950 or so school subscribers, the copy is BLUE.


Constant Contact is a constant pain. The blue copy is just part of it. CC no longer likes my preferred Firefox browser, so I have to use Internet Explorer, and the page jiggles maniacally every time I enter something in the main copy block.

I thought technology was supposed to make us work faster, smarter, better. Not. Instead of technology serving us, we are serving technology. We have to contort our brains and work patterns to fit the paradigm of whatever technology we're using.

Need to pay the government a quarterly tax? Maybe QuickBooks will be right. Or maybe you'll pay a penalty to the IRS because the report QuickBooks prepared and you sent with your check is a few dollars off, despite faithfully downloading and reviewing every update.

Want to work on an Excel spreadsheet after MicroSoft's latest update? Good luck finding all the drop-downs you had memorized over the past couple of years since the last update.

Trying to copy and paste some text from an email into a web page? Don't forget to use that handy-dandy eraser icon for deleting the formatting because there's a lot of hidden stuff that's going to blow things up as soon as you upload your website.

Prompted to change a password? The security protocol says you have to use a number, symbol, upper and lower case letters, and snap your fingers in quarter time to hit the magic "strong" marker. 

This is why some people get to the point of saying "Stop. I am no longer going to be a hostage to the ever-changing whims and quick-click developments of the technology trend du jour. I am tired of doing tutorials that don't actually tutor. I am frustrated by user forums that are more snark than smart. I am going to stick with what works." Except that, a few Internet Explorer updates later, your computer no longer speaks to the internet.

I'm a writer, not an IT guru. But the virtual workplace forces me to get just enough expertise to navigate clients' websites, eLance's complicated workroom set-up, DreamWeaver and PhotoShop for the Nature Center, as well as the entire MicroSoft Office suite of headaches.

I am not at peace with my technology. I need to dig in the dirt. And do some baking. And sew the aprons I'm making for Christmas gifts. In other words, I need to use the hand skills God gave us to survive and thrive.

Thank you for reading this rant. Now go outside and enjoy this splendid day!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Knitternall in the Park in the Dark

I'm shepherding Dunwoody Nature Center's Whooooo's in the Park after Dark? Chattahoochee Nature Center is bringing two raptors, we'll have some fun crafts for the kiddies and hot chocolate for everyone. Come on ... and bring your flashlight!


in the Park in the Dark? 
Saturday, October 16
6:30 - 8:30 PM

DNC Members $3; General Public $5

Spend an evening in the park as darkness falls and the sounds of night-time nature abound. Enjoy animal presentations of birds of prey and a hike to listen for owls calling. Which owl says "Who cooks for you?" Which little owl makes a tiny whistling noise? Make some crafts, see the world through owl eyes, and dissect owl pellets. Stay for refreshments as the stars come out! Fees are per person. Cash only; no will call available for this event.

Don't forget the Knitternall 100 GiveawayWhen my "followers" total 100, I'll give away a hand knit lace shawl in your choice of colors to one chosen at random! (The pattern is Haruni by Emily Ross.) I'll cast on as soon as I contact the winner and we discuss the options.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phonics Phunnies.

My Preschool Phonics classes are well underway. The children are settled into class routines, I've figured out each one's learning style and quirks, and we've jumped gleefully into blending sounds into words.

I begin each year believing that, having taught this program for more than six years, I've seen and heard everything.

Like do I live at Dunwoody Nature Center? (Feels that way sometimes.) Are my children actually Phonics Friends who decided to stay with me because they love, love, love Phonics? (I said yes.) And the fact that there's one child, every single year, who likes to put EVERYTHING in his mouth (I've had to retrieve letter magnets, pencil erasers, puzzle pieces, notes to parents, and a hot dot pen from various little mouths through the years.)

Turns out I can still be surprised.
I did not think that a lanyard holding a name tag could become a chew toy. I have some powerful chewers this year.
"Can I use the bathroom outside? Did you know you can pee on a tree?" Well, yes I did. But I encouraged the little scholar to use the regular bathroom instead. (I also noted that /pee/ and /tree/ rhyme. I never miss a teachable moment.)

"Look!" I looked. At the same time one of my students was successfully matching rhyming word pictures, his "free" hand was stuck firmly up his nose. "Honey, let's not pick noses in class. And you need to wash your hands." "Why?"
I taught the children the Little Red Wagon chant (You can't ride in my little red wagon! The front wheel's broken and the axle's draggin! Chugga, chugga, chugga chugga chugga!) It's a great wiggle-soother. I forgot that preschoolers can't say "axle" very well. So, loud and clear across Dunwoody Park came one little darlin's rendition: "The front seat's broken and the a (double s) is draggin!" I am proud of myself for not falling apart in giggles right in the middle of the lesson.
"Mrs. Nall, we're late because the back-berry kept talking." Mom blushed and I chuckled. "My phone does that too, sometimes." 
Keep 'em coming, kids!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Knitternall 100 Giveaway

Musings during a splendid Sunday morning in Dunwoody ...

  • My friend Kathie at A Few Good Pieces had a great idea: a giveaway to mark the 200th follower of her blog. I forgot to add the "follower button" in the early years, mainly because I was still a bit tentative about exploring this virtual community. I am grateful for the more than 170,000 (and counting) hits my blog has received in the past few years. Now I'd like to pay homage to my regular visitors. When my "followers" total 100, I'll give away a hand knit lace shawl in your choice of colors to one chosen at random! (The pattern is Haruni by Emily Ross.) I'll cast on as soon as I contact the winner and we discuss the options.
  • While this began as purely a knitting blog, my postings have evolved into a "slice of Knitternall life" in Dunwoody. I am blessed to live in this town, among caring friends, a dynamic church family, and with people who give so generously and selflessly of their time to make Dunwoody truly special.
  • Knitting is still what I do. All the time, according to friends and family. But that can't be true since I'm usually juggling the parent thing, myriad writing assignments, volunteer jobs, and the Nature Center. Yet, when I count how much I've knitted this year, I'm either knitting in my sleep or way more produtive than I thought.
  • Village Burger has become our go-to place for a quick, tasty bite or just some dessert. It's in walking distance of the Knitternall house. My favorite time there is in the evening, while fall is cooling the breeze and scores of friends and friendly faces are lining up for their House Burgers, Char Dogs, and Concrete Cones. It's becoming a barometer for when things end ... plays, games, schools closed because of a water shortage: drive by VB and watch the crowd surge.
  •  "Celebrate all you have achieved." That's what the studio portrait package says. We have to order our son's senior portraits TODAY or miss the deadline for yearbook. I've dithered because the cost is unbelievable. The studio has rigged the packages so that, in order to get just an 11x14 and a few extras for friends and family, you'll spend close to $350. For another hundred dollars, you can get 107 prints (count 'em) plus a CD so you can print out even more. Really? Sticker shock is putting it mildly. And this comes right after hefty checks for yearbooks, "required school fees and supplies," two major car repairs, and just before oldest teen sends in his college applications (and we anticipate that first tuition bill.) Do I put my philosophical foot down, say "enough," and order a la carte just the 6 prints I want (one of his formal senior portrait and three black and white casual photos)? for $200 (wince)? Or do we buy into the insanity?
  • My yard died. The long summer heat won. Back to the shovel and rake over the next four weeks as I plant optimism for next spring.
Blessings to everyone who visits here.  Your comments and insights are always welcome!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Write stuff.

I just returned from a teacher conference. Conference subject: writing. Not the mechanics ... the content. It's a big leap from writing a paragraph on some random topic to writing with depth and focus. My daughter is a very strong student who loves to learn. Now, hopefully, she understands the difference between narrative and expository writing.

My kids have watched me write their entire lives. From the day each came home from the hospital, I've freelanced, writing copy around Mother's Morning Out and nap time, before and after ballet recitals and band concerts, and long after they've gone to bed. Now that they're older, my writing time is more seamless and focused. I can actually write for hours at a time, without interruption. Bliss.

I don't know if they got the writing gene from me or if it's a bit of osmosis, but they're both really strong writers. Their "voices" are idiosyncratic and very much different from mine. I love reading their work and take great care not to offer an opinion beyond a few pointers about mechanics and transitions.

Today, I'm starting a long-term project for one of my favorite clients (we've been together "virtually" for more than a decade) and a one-off video voiceover for an organic grocery in New York that DELIVERS ORGANIC FOOD AND GOODS TO YOUR DOOR. Since I am still mourning the demise of WebVan, this assignment compounds my longing for home delivery.

My freelance cup runneth over.

I love writing. One day it's framing products and a speech for Miss Virginia, the next it's furniture and organics. How cool is that? The range of topics and media keeps me on my toes and writer's block at bay. (Writing for Dunwoody Nature Center is a little bit of pay-it-forward I always enjoy.)

The only downside for my family is that I go completely into the writing zone when I'm working. I don't hear, see, or talk coherently until I finish for the day. Or night. So they can stand right beside my chair, tell me something very, very important, and I have absolutely no clue what they said. Or that they're even there. I think the ability to tune out distractions is a gift. My family calls it annoying.

Ah, well.

Back to work.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Snakes Alive!

Snakes Alive!
Saturday, October 9
11:00 - 4:00 PM
DNC Members $8; General Public $10
Drop by to visit reptile expert Connie Haynes of Nature Corners to discuss the amazing characteristics of snakes. Examine artifacts and exhibits of live snakes and see a snake up close as it moves on the ground. Explore the habits of snakes, their eating patterns, and natural history. Native and exotic snakes will be available to observe and touch. (Venomous snakes will not be present, though will be discussed. All of Connie's animals are rescued or rehabilitated.)  Purchase tickets for will call or pay cash during the event.
Dunwoody Nature Center is located on the grounds of Dunwoody Park, 5343 Roberts Drive in Dunwoody.  The nonprofit organization's mission is to preserve and manage the natural environment and related facilities of Dunwoody Park and to foster the enjoyment and appreciation of nature through environmental education and outreach programs.