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Sunday, April 08, 2007

March 20, 2007: Random Blog Thoughts

Random Blog Thoughts

Here are a few - okay - more than a few! - random thoughts.

*I am convinced that the devil invented coffee. What I mean to say is, my tummy currently finds the Magic Bean very revolting. Blek. I guess I will just have to live with being brain dead from lack of caffeine until I feel better. It might be pretty scary. My mind does not function without coffee. In the words of Mark Robertson of This Train infamy, "I hate it when there's too much blood in my coffee system." I am living on Sprite and ice water. The nice thing about Sprite is that it makes me burp. It feels good to burp. Why don't we all pop the top on a Sprite and engage in a collective group burp? It might be fun. (Seeee... I told you I was low on cerebral power without caffeine. I have regressed emotionally from a basically decent 42 year old woman to a giggling preadolescent ALL BECAUSE MY BRAIN IS LACKING CAFFEINE!!!).

*There is actually such a thing as Too Much Irish Music. I know because I overindulged in listening to it on St. Patrick's Day and still can't get all the Ceili Rain and Chieftains and Gaelic Storm and Altan and other Celtic bands' music out of my poor weary little mind no matter how I try. I am seeking refuge in the spoken word, listening to audio books and my audio Bible, and also some soothing Classical music. Eeks. I just want my mind to be silent for awhile! If I were feeling "Chris Normal" I would enjoy this chronic "jigorousness" but I am TIRED. I need rest. A girl can't sleep when her toes are tapping to mental memories of jigs and reels.

* Not to belabor the point, but I really have been quite sick with the stomach flu. I am sleeping a lot, but when I have moments of reprieve I simply feel I MUST DO SOMETHING CREATIVE. Over the weekend, I crocheted about a dozen white snowflakes in bedspread weight crochet cotton, using patterns I had snagged off the Internet for free last October. Note: I have two American School of Needlework craft leaflets with snowflake patterns which I've been using for the creation of snowflakes for over 20 years. I got tired of those patterns (!!! wouldn't you?!!!!) and I am enjoying the ones I got off the 'net. Still have more patterns to try.

I find snowflake crocheting extremely, very addicting. However, I am sobered by the notion of all the time I will have to spend stiffening and pinning these little buzzards out to dry in correct shaping before I can use them for anything.

I'll take some pictures/scan some unfinished snowflakes (unfinished meaning unstiffened) and share some links to the free patterns when I feel better. Remind me if I forget or get lazy or distracted!

You'll note that I mentioned it took me the whole weekend to crochet a dozen snowflakes. Doesn't this make us all marvel at the creative powers of God, Who never creates two snowflakes alike and Who can shower down inches upon inches, feet upon feet of individually unique snowflakes in a much briefer period of time? Truly, He is to be praised!

* It's time for a haircut when I start feeling better. I look pretty shaggy right now and have been creative with barrettes. I always procrastinate when it comes to haircuts. This is due to the Early Childhood Pixie Haircut Trauma which my Momsie caused me to endure. There is a picture of me in said shorn state somewhere on my photoblog. I'll try to find it just to prove to you all how abused I was, having my pretty strawberry blonde locks all wacked off short when I was a tiny little girl!

* Heck, I am tired of soothing classical music! I'm listening to some Eric Clapton Unplugged right now. I would love to meet the piano player from that CD. Speaking of piano players, what is Billy Joel up to these days? While I don't like some of his stuff, still no one can tickle the ivories like him.

* Today will be the First Day of Spring. Even though it was a mere 10 degrees F. above Zero this morning, I got out of bed and got dressed to go upstairs to the COLD bedroom to haul down three or four boxes of my spring and summer clothes. It will be at least a month before the weather will be decent enough to wear them out of the house, but it's time to take stock of what needs to be mended, what needs to go to St. Vinnie's, and to get things washed, dried, and ironed before warm weather strikes. Less than two months and we'll be sweating like pigs in a sauna and rushing to put the window air conditioners in the windows.

* Still haven't gotten my extra computer over to Barbara's place for her to use for email and 'net surfing. I've been working on this computer since November. Every time I get ready to take it over to her, I get sick or she gets busy working on her taxes or I need to spend a gazillion hours waiting for the dial up connection on that computer to download Windows updates and antivirus updates. I am determined to get this thing over to her by Easter Sunday at the latest.

* If you haven't seen the movie Radio yet (look at the link on my Xangazon box at the top of this post) I highly recommend it. Why in tarnation does Hollywood not make more movies of this truly uplifting calibre? Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are both excellent. Feeling down and like there isn't anyone in the world who is good? Watch this movie! It will warm your heart and inspire you.

My dad is doing the dishes and after he finishes putting them away, I plan on making dinner. Shake 'n Bake boneless skinless chicken breasts, bow tie pasta tossed in extra virgin olive oil and garnished with oregano, and steamed zucchini slices with a touch of butter and dill. I've got to try to eat, and my dad deserves a decent meal after this past week!

Which reminds me, the Kraft Food and Family magazine came in the snail mail today and stomach flu or no stomach flu, the cheesecake on the cover looks delectable. Unfortunately, cheesecake is EVIL! My childhood friends Amy and Elin gave my dad and me a 2 pound gourmet Harry & David cheescake for Christmas and it caused me to gain not two but TEN pounds! It was worth it though. It was sinfully delicious. I have passionate dreams about Harry & David cheesecakes sometimes. In Heaven, there will not only be tons of gourmet cheesecake, but it WILL NOT BE FATTENING. Hee hee hee.

Happy Tuesday!

Currently Watching
Radio
By Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard, S. Epatha Merkerson, Brent Sexton, Chris Mulkey, Sarah Drew, Riley Smith, Patrick Breen, Debra Winger, Bill Roberson, Kenneth H. Callender, Michael Harding (III), Charles Garren, Rebecca Koon, Hi Bedford Roberson, Michael Kroeker, Mark Robert Ellis, Ron Shelley, Evan Aldrich

March 19, 2007: More Prayer Shawls (pictures coming later)

More Prayer Shawls

Well, for someone who literally thought she was going to die from nausea this morning (I have had a weird combo of stomach flu and allergic nausea from asthma - not that anyone needs to know this! ), I am finally out of bed this evening and have begun work on another prayer shawl. Marie couldn't get me one of the yarn colors I'd asked for, but that's okay. The substitute color is fine, and it is probably a "God thing" that this color yarn got chosen instead of what I'd asked for. What I had asked for was Lion Brand Yarn Homespun in "Baroque" which is a marled purple/violet. What I have is Homespun in "Goth" purple. Wow. Need to turn the lights on a higher setting to work with this one! But it will be classy for someone. And purple is the color of penitence, so who knows what the shawl recipient is going through? Not for me to know! It's my job to ask God to bless the dear lady with the gifts and graces that HE knows are best for her.

Marie also found me some Wool-Ease Chunky in the color "Nantucket". Oh! I loooooooove this yarn! It is rather a storm blue/green. I am going to work with this yarn in a closed crochet pattern.

The Homespun "Goth" purple shawl has been started on Size 11 (American) straight needles in the Knit 3, Purl 3 Seed Stitch representative of the Holy Trinity. I cast on a few more stitches and am using bigger knitting needles this time than last. Also will be using more yarn.

I'm planning on alternating between knitting the purple shawl and crocheting the storm blue/green shawl. Variety is the spice o' life, yes!

Marie promised me more yarn for the prayer shawl ministry, and told me that she will be yarn shopping out of town sometime soon. She said that I can ask for something besides Lion Brand Yarns if I like. Anyone have any suggestions? I would love to work at least one really pretty shawl with simple cables in Fisherman's wool, but I can get that here in town. Even though I live less than 45 minutes away from Herrschners in Stevens Point, I don't get to the Yarn Shoppe ever (I plan on dragging my Momsie there this summer when she comes up from Florida). My yarn budget has been very limited over the past years because of living on disability, so I've been content to be able to work with Lion Brand yarns. However, I drool over some of the really pretty, nicer, albeit more expensive yarns out there. Someone is donating money to our parish for the prayer shawl ministry, so the parish provides me with yarn for shawls. I couldn't afford to do all this otherwise. I feel just like a little kid in a candy store being offered nicer yarns at someone else's expense.

So, to my knitting and crocheting friends, what are *your* favorite yarns? Please provide me with links to your favorite yarn companies' websites so I can begin to shop online for what I want Marie to bring me. I don't want to eat up too much of the parish yarn budget with ultra expensive yarns. And keep in mind that a lot of these prayer shawls will be going to either older or sick with cancer ladies. They will need easy maintenance yarns that don't requiring handwashing and air drying, but I don't exactly want to be using Red Heart Super Saver cheap yarn. Sometimes I have good luck with Super Saver for afghans, and sometimes I don't. So I just leave it alone these past few years, though I see Wally World here in town carries it.

Here are a few not-too-artistically shot snaps of the first two prayer shawls. They both measured 60" long before laundering and drying. They reached arm to arm on a big girl like me, but as I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I would have liked them to be longer if they would have been for me personally. I was working with limited yarn. Marie says they will be just perfect for a couple of smaller elderly ladies - something simple and without fringe.

Okay, back to my Scrabble game and then a Three Stooges movie. I have been too sick to enjoy my Netflix this month and I want to catch up on some Vitamin L (Laughter).

Thank you all for the kind thoughts and prayers today. Please pray that I shake this nausea. It is hard to have the courage to will to live on nights like last night and mornings like today.

Thank You Jesus for the good health that I do have!

March 19, 2007: Migraine

Migraine

Migraine. Blog to be continued and email to be caught up on sometime in the near future, Lord willing.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. :)

March 13, 2007: Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts

My Heavenly Father has chosen to give me an earthly father who - though far from wealthy in the eyes of the world - likes to show love with gifts.

So if God has chosen this particular human man - my earthly Daddy - to help me learn to love Him - my heavenly, divine Daddy, then one of the things God is trying to teach me is that...

... He is a giver of good and timely gifts. He gives me gifts because He loves me, not because I have scored high on the Holy-meter or because I've somehow "earned" it, and it certainly is not because I am worthy of it. He gives me gifts because I am His child. He gives me gifts when I'm not expecting them. He gives me "big" gifts and "little" gifts, and gifts in many sizes in between the two. He loves to surprise me with things I'd never before thought I'd enjoy... and He also loves to surprise me with things that I've had my heart set on for a long time but didn't have the money to buy for myself and didn't want to seem greedy in asking for.

He wants me to love Him for Himself - yes, and I'm not perfect on that score yet. I am still very much a greedy little toddler with a prodigious sweet tooth who likes to meet her Abba Daddy at the door in prayer to see if he's brought some candy. But, by the grace of God, I am getting better.

***

On Saturday, my dad drove to Stevens Point to the nearest Catholic gift and bookstore. We both wanted a really nice crucifix as a focal point in our new living room, and we hadn't been able to find anything we really liked in any of the snail mail or online catalogs. Daddy went to the store in Point and there was one quite lovely and large Fontanini (sp) left over from the previous store owner. It was just exactly what my dad wanted, and while it was worth a lot more than he payed for it, he got it at a bargain price because the store just couldn't sell it. I think Jesus was saving that crucifix just for my dad and me for these past 4 and a half years while it was sitting in a stock room! (Pictures coming soon).

While my dad was perusing the store as the store owner was waiting on other customers, he spied a Revised Standard Version audio Bible (New Testament) on CD (we Catholics call it the Ignatius Bible, but truly this is a translation which most denominations recognize as being good). I had originally wanted it for Christmas last year, but had to choose between it and something else that I needed worse.

So, my dad, out of the goodness of his heart knew that I retain Scripture better if I hear it than if I read it, bought me the 14 CD set of the RSV New Testament, bless his dear, generous heart. And I am loving every single minute that I've listened to it since!

***

Friends, our Daddy God is good and kind. May He shower you with gifts - gifts of grace, gifts of healing, gifts of material/financial provision, gifts of every sort during this holy season of Lent. You are His child, and it pleases Him to give you the Kingdom, and it also pleases Him to give you His Holy Spirit.

May the blessing of the Lord be upon you; I bless each of you in the Name of the One Who is the One True, Faithful Lover of our souls - Jesus!

~Miss Chris

March 13, 2007: Knitting: Pictures coming later

Knitting, Crocheting, While-Away the Daying

Am having to keep pretty quiet due to asthma (I did manage to get the Christmas tree undecorated, taken down, and put away in the loft), so I've been knitting and crocheting a few small projects for my own use/enjoyment while waiting for the parish shawl ministry chairlady to get the new yarn I asked for to me. (The next two prayer shawls I make will be (1) Homespun yarn in "Baroque" (a marled purple) to knit, and (2) Wool-Ease Chunky yarn in "Nantucket" (a storm blue-green) I haven't decided whether to knit or to crochet the second one).

So far, I've knit three red wool headbands. Two are simple single cable headbands, and one is "just plain" garter stitch. The pictures on this blog entry are of one of the cable headbands, unfinished.

Today is Red Mitten Day! Why I pick the first really warm day of the season to crochet wool mittens is beyond me. I think it is the same psychological quirk in me that insists on starting Christmas projects on a hot and humid Independence Day weekend! I have half a mitten and one thumb left to go, and then sewing seams. Thumbs are the bane of my existence when it comes to crocheting this pattern. I am trying to figure out if I am simply mentally dense, or if the pattern instructions simply are not clearly written, or both?

Pictures of the mittens will come later.

Am getting crocheter's wrist, so it's time to put the mittens aside and cross-stitch a bookmark.

Okay, not feeling very communicative today. Stomach flu - blek! I'm just fortunate I'm doing as well as I am!

Ta Ta For Now!

~Miss Chris

Currently Reading
A Wind in the Door
By Madeleine L'Engle

March 11, 2007: Salad Bar for Kitties (Pictures coming later)

A Salad Bar for Kitties

(Please bear with my excessive blogging today; my asthma kicked up this weekend like it hasn't done in several years and I'm not supposed to be exerting myself physically today in the hopes that I won't need to go to the ER for an albuterol script. Today is somewhat better breathing, and is such relief after the murder that breathing was yesterday so I am semi-euphoric with a mental energy which expresses itself in TMB (Too Much Blogging). Maybe I will simply type this in as a private post and set it to public later this week when I don't feel like blogging anew...)

The kitties are beginning their spring shedding, and spring shedding always heralds the beginning of spring hairball season. Neither of my babies is fond of veterinary hairball remedies, though they will in times of gastric distress consent to have a dab of plain old unscented Vaseline dabbed on their paws for them to lick off at their leisure. *Note: you should see Maglet when she gets a "gob of goo" dabbed on her paw! It's downright hilarious. She runs away as fast as she can... even though she is convinced that the dab of petroleum jelly has rendered that front paw irreparably LAME! She hides in a corner behind the sofa and glares at my balefully as though I have just done Something Unforgivable.

It's ten times worse if I use Laxatone from the vet, which is SUPPOSED to have a pleasing caramel flavor (don't ask me; I've never tried it! LOL) but which the kitties think is absolutely and totally gagworthy. My first cat hated it, too.

Happily, there is a solution, and it's one which the kitties find delightfully entertaining and an epicurean delight: Cat Grass, or Cat Salad.

For the past several years, I've been potting up a couple of small containers every month of Cat Grass herb seed in the house for the kittens to nibble and nosh on when they feel like it. They seem to have body wisdom and know when to eat it and when not to eat it. As delicately as I can put it, ingesting "salad" helps their digestive systems eliminate hairballs in the litterbox rather than as "not very pleasant middle of the night things for humans to step on when they're on the way to the bathroom".

The kitties get the extra enjoyment of feeling like they are doing something fun but forbidden by eating plants which grow in the house. They don't get hollered at for eating cat grass like they do when they feast on Boston Ferns, but they don't know that cat grass doesn't cost as much as a big fern!

Anyway, "we" planted cat grass together on Saturday. Here are some pictures. There are some captions if you click on the pictures and go to the photoblog.

Okay, time for me to put something in the bread machine. I rather fancy Egg Bread today. That's as close as I'll get to Parkerhouse Rolls this week.

March 11, 2007. Icicles! Pictures will be uploaded later

Serious Icicles!

These are some serious icicles from Friday morning, March 9, 2007. The gold house is our neighbors'. The blue house is ours.

March 11, 2007: Last Weekend's Snow (pictures coming later)

Last Weekend's Snow

Okay, I realize that some of you think that at this point of the year, "snow" is a dirty word. But I had to wait extra long for some real, old fashioned snow this year and I'm not tiring of it yet. Unfortunately, it is going to be 50 degrees again today like it was yesterday, and this of course means that it is melting! melting! melting! I am tickled an bright shade of Wild Shamrock Green because the Old Farmer's Almanac prophesies that we will have more heavy snow here in my area in early to mid April, and then we will have a nicer than usual remainder of April. The OFA has been right on for us thus far. I'm sure Fr. Stoetzel is gloating about it.

Anyway, this is the snow last weekend when it was fresh and pretty, and when the skies were blue. The pictures I took since then were on an overcast day and I failed to tweak the exposure compensation settings on my Kodak EasyShare DX6340. (That's another project for me: to start using the creative control that my camera gives me; mine isn't just a "point and shoot").

These shots were all taken from my front porch last Sunday. I went out in my flannel lounge clothes and comfy Isotoner slippers. It was way cold, so my camera battery froze up fast. The pix are what I can see from my living room window. I just love looking out my living room winter in the wintertime!

Enjoy!

March 11, 2007: Prayer Shawl Update

Prayer Shawl Update

I finished knitting Prayer Shawl #2 earlier this morning. All that's left to do with the two shawls I made these past few weeks is to weave in loose yarn ends, and then wash and "block" the shawls before I send them back on to my parish prayer shawl chairlady. I'll snap some pictures of the finished shawls and post them here at a later date. As I mentioned recently, the next time I make prayer shawls, I'm going to make them longer, perhaps wider as well. While I am more of a crocheter (just call me the Happy Hooker! ) than a knitter, I do like the Knit 3, Purl 3 Seed Stitch pattern for the prayer shawl. It is warm. Gerttie mentioned on her blog that she didn't like the crocheted prayer shawl pattern she was using because it was too open and didn't seem like it would be very warm. She is quite right! I had started working my first shawl in that same or a similar pattern, and it simply was NOT kosher.

***

Today for fun I'm going to work on crocheting some red mittens in Lion Brand Wool-Ease "Chunky" yarn, and also knit some headbands with matching wool while I listen to some Lenten Reflections podcasts. I found a non-dorky pattern for a knit cable pattern hat for the chunky yarn, but I am not feeling ambitious enough to do multiple cables today. Chocolate is in season, if we all know what I mean is, and I just need to "veg out". I already have one pair of red crocheted mittens in this yarn, but they're not quite big enough for my comfort. I like enough wiggle room in my mittens. Last month I knitted a simple cable scarf in the matching red chunky yarn. I need to wash and "block" that, too before it's truly wearable.

These red accessories are all to go along with my navy with white and light blue snowflake pattern Polartec winter jacket that I found at St. Vinnie's last fall. It is getting too warm to wear my LL Bean navy wool toggle coat (as I've mentioned before, one of the many ways my mom shows me love is to buy me things from LL Bean at Christmas - I am not wealthy, but my mom is rather well off and gives me love gifts), so it's time to move on to Polartec. In our locale, Polartec is in season through late April, sometimes even early May. Methinks sometimes Mother's Day is even cold enough for Polartec (you would agree if you had to live through rainy, windy, sleety 40 degree weather in mid-May!).

I didn't get as many craft projects done this winter as I thought I would. I think I will take some pictures of the stuff though. I hereby submit to all y'all a Blog Challenge: Take a picture/pictures of a craft project (be it knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, needlepointing, plastic canvas, sewing, scrapbooking, painting, beading, quilting, photography, etc.) and post it to your blog! Let's all see what creative geniuses we all are! C'mon! Don't be bashful or modest! Show us your handiwork and you'll inspire all the rest of us to rise to new heights of creative glory! I mean it! I am going to remind you girls incessantly until I see some results.

Show us your handiwork even in unfinished states!

Hmm.. cross-stitching.. I am am wondering if I can find a free pattern for an Irish Blessing bookmark to stitch... Google, here I come!

Happy Sunday, one and all! Even in Lent, Sunday is a FEAST day!

May the blessing of the Lord be upon each and every one of you and all your dear ones; I bless you all in the Name of the Lord!

Hugs!

Currently Listening
Gaelic Storm
By Gaelic Storm
"The Road To Liskeard"

March 11, 2007: St. Vinnie's Alert

St. Vinnie's Alert

Each year when the songbirds begin to sing more loudly, when the ice and snow begins to melt under the late winter/soon to be spring sunshine, the garden catalogs for roses and other plants start arriving more and more often (my favorite is Burpee's catalog, though I can't afford most of their stuff)...

I digress. One of the signs of spring being 'round the corner is that I get this intense urge to go shopping at St. Vinnie's in downtown Marshfield. Because this is the time of year I am most likely to find designer clothes in my size. There are a lot of rich doctor's wives who seem to shop in Minneapolis as well as gain weight every winter, because these ladies with good taste and generous hearts give the designer clothes they've outgrown to St. Vinnie's to sell in the thrift shop each spring.

Last year, I came up with a pair of Claiborne jeans in my size (and I'm a big girl - these would have been at least $75 at a mall), a pair of LA Blues that are the most flattering and comfortable jeans I've worn in years since my first pair of designer jeans back in 1978 (those were Oscar de la Rentas, and I am ashamed to admit that I wore designer jeans before designer jeans were cool - that pair of jeans was the envy of a lot of my schoolmates!). I forget what else is in my closet from my March 2006 St. Vinnie's spree, aside from some shortall shorts. I think most of it is upstairs in the loft closet area, because in the winter I live either in flannel pajamas or flannel lined jeans (LL Bean rocks!) and sweaters (LL Bean rocks again [my mom supports my habit]).

I look dumpy in Levis. Even when I was a skinny size 4 (yes, 4!) when I was 19 (I wasn't really anorexic; I was just sick), Levi Strauss had the ability to make me look like I had a monstrous pot belly. So, a pox on Levi Strauss! I still have a pair that fit in my closet, but I'm not buying any more - especially since the company is on the Human Life International black list for supporting the pro-abortion movement.

Anyway, I feel this adrenaline surge that tells me it's time for my annual first St. Vinnie's "fling" of the spring.

The scary thing is that I not only want to see what clothes are on the rack in my size (anything from a 20 to a 24, depending on the designer), I also want to see if there are some treasures in the book department. WHAT ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH DO I NEED ANY MORE BOOKS FOR????!!!!! The house is full of them! Good ones that I don't want to give away or even swap on PaperBack Swap.com!

And of course, those of you who've been my friends for a long, long time know what my real motive is for wanting to go St. Vinny-ing: I have a severe case of BASKETHOLISM. Yes, I still need more BASKETS to organize my office areas in the loft and the upstairs bedroom. *Baskets! Baskets! Baskets!*

Not to mention, I have it in my head that I need a tamborine and a case for my acoustic guitar and St. Vinnie's is the place to find those!

Oh my stars! And to think that garage sale season will be starting before I know it! Whatever will I do?! They better lock me up! I really don't need anything more than a bookcase or two...

Anyway, please support your local St. Vincent de Paul store. This is a great time for finding beautiful bargains and helping out the less fortunate of your community at the same time. I see doctors' wives and other wealthier people in St. Vinnie's all the time, hunting down bargains and antiquing. It's considered quite "cool".

I truly hope I can find a nice pair of Oshkosh B'gosh long overalls...

March 10, 2007. Picture uploaded soon.

Flamingo du Jour, and Tasteful Interior Design :)

As I mentioned in the comment box of one of EliRiello's blog entries yesterday, I am the Queen of the Packrats and the Empress of Clutter. This happy yet challenging trait was handed down to me by my Italian Nani, and it skipped my mom before hitting me in a double dose. My mom calls me "Nani, Jr."

I like things to be warm, cozy, inviting, active - like someone (namely me!) actually LIVES in our house (as opposed to someone who is inordinately fond of cleaning house and throwing things out) and the magazines aren't all displayed in a perfect "fan" on the coffee table. I am a creative person with a multitude of interests, so besides knick knacks and decorations, there are musical instruments, craft supplies, art projects, books (!!!) baskets (!!!) and a host of cooking magazines to be found all over the place (but fairly neatly).

The busyness of my home environment is kind of a way of coping after living in a "perfect" house when I was growing up. I'm a Big Girl now, and I can do as I please! :P

My mom is the Anti-Packrat. We cannot live in the same house! Thank Heavens my dad cuts me some slack! My mom loves me dearly (and I her) but she is an interior designer, and my feng shui is just way too out of whack for her to deal with!

Anyway, today's Flamingo is found in an interesting place. This is the Baby Flamingo that the Tatterdemalion email list gave me on my 39th birthday.

Okay, now I am headed for my Lazy Boy and a movie. On tap tonight is The Hiding Place.

*Bonus points for whoever spots Rich Mullins.

Man, I am TIRED.

Edit: Yes, Eli! I can just hear you groan all the way from California how abysmally dreadful that valance is! The bedroom window treatments came with the house, and I am just getting ready to order new blinds (in a darker color) before I attempt "creating" (I don't know if I'm ready to tackle actual sewing) some new valances out of some kind of interesting fabric.

Currently Watching
Billy Graham Presents: The Hiding Place
By Cyril Shaps, Pamela Sholto, Richard Wren, Norman Rodway, Jeannette Clift, Broes Hartman, Julie Harris, Paul Henley, Tom van Beek, Lillias Walker, Lex van Delden, David de Keyser, Arthur O'Connell, Corrie Ten Boom, Janette Legge, Eileen Heckart, Irene Prador, Robert Rietty, Carol Gillies, Janet Davies

March 8, 2007.

Wednesday

(1) Stomach flu - stuck in bed sleeping or reading. Living on ice water, apple juice and toast.

(2) Am a third of the way through the How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published book. Lots of homework to do, beginning with reading a lot more kid lit than I've been reading (and I read a LOT of kid lit!). This will be FUN homework.

(3) Am two thirds of the way through with Prayer Shawl #2. I need a break from knitting.

(4) Kiki Thomas McFierceson is being a Brat Cat tonight. Most of the time he is my Number One Sweetheart Teddy Bear Boy, but tonight he's Brat Cat. I suppose this means I will have to get out the Evil and Wicked VC (Vacuum Cleaner, not the Viet Cong!) to scare some good behavior into him. All that is required for returned acceptable cat manners is to remove the VC from the closet for five minutes. One does not need to engage in Real Housework to get the VC to establish control again. MUAHAHAHAHA!!! (Kiki is a "chicken" kitty.)

Okay, time to go nighty night.

Currently Reading
How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published
By Barbara Seuling

When I Am Hungry...

[I am trying to live this, this Lent, in such small ways as I am able]

When I am hungry, give me someone that I can feed.
And when I am thirsty, give me someone who needs a drink.
When I am cold, give me someone to keep warm.
And when I grieve, give me someone to console.

- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Currently Reading
Coming to Life : Being Baptized in the Holy Spirt
By S.S.J Father Robert DeGrandis

March 6, 2007. Psalm of the Day

Psalm 50:23

"Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God."

March 6, 2007. Picture coming later.

Of Flamingos and Birthday Clowns (Long Entry!)

Some of you know me as my alter ego, The Birthday Bandit™. The Birthday Bandit™ has a reputation for having a fondness for Pink Flamingos, and thus has been the delighted recipient of many very lovely pink flamingo gifts from her beloved friends who are really much too kind to her.

This week, I am going to help us all "Think Spring" by sharing some pictures of my flamingos with this blog. But first, I have a prayer request.

The first origins of The Birthday Bandit Ministry were this: I have seen some hard times in my 42 years, the worst of them in my teens and early twenties. Many years found me dreading my birthday. I mean, I have been chronically ill in a fairly big way since shortly after my 16th birthday in 1980. But my illness (CFS, now called ME/CFS - the researchers have changed the name) had a childhood onset.

Anyway, as a teen and a young adult, I was not able to achieve the goals that some people in authority over me wanted for me, and that in fact I thought I wanted for myself. I was too sick to take many college courses, and even though I earned "A's" in the courses I took, I had to settle for grades of "C's" because of the numerous days of class I missed due to illness. I was so ill I had to quit. And I was not willing to settle for "C's being on my record.

Long story short, illness prevented me from acquiring a college degree, moving into a big time career (I was being primed for Law School; I am now thrilled that I never made that goal!), marrying and having children. Note: I am not ruling out someday getting married and adopting children; God's timing is perfect and exquisite.

Anyway, these were bitter pills to swallow for a young person full of dreams, ideals, and a zest for learning and living. Add to this that until the past few years, most doctors didn't even think this was a real illness! Most of my family and friends didn't understand. They've come around since then. In the meantime, my email friends from Ragamuffin and Tatterdemalion and the St. Therese group have been my constant cheerleaders. And... so has my dad, who also has CFS.

So, I felt like a "failure" for many years. I hated my birthday because each new birthday meant it was another year "that I didn't amount to anything".

But Jesus intervened and got me involved in the prayer group (I am a Catholic Charismatic) and the Holy Spirit loved (and continues to love) some sense into me - that I am a child of God, that I am loved, that I am special, and that God has a purpose for my life.

***

So many people feel like failures. So many people feel obscure, unknown, unappreciated, UNLOVED.

So many people hate their birthdays.

So, once I got online in 1998, I began my very small "ministry" as The Birthday Bandit, spreading birthday cheer and sending encouraging birthday e-cards. I did pretty well at it for awhile, but alas, I've grown slack the past couple of years.

While I truly LOVE email Birthday Banditeering, I have a bigger dream.

There is an extensive children's hospital in my city. St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.

There is also a fairly large "regular" hospital in my city. St. Joseph's Hospital.

There is also a county mental institution in my city. Norwood.

My dream is to take some kind of clown lessons, make a really hilarious costume, get props, write Birthday Carols, learn more jokes, and volunteer as a Birthday Clown.

Think of the poor children in the children's hospital. The terminal ones especially who will be on this earth for only a few short years. Somewhere in their sweet, suffering minds, they've got to be wondering if the world will know they were ever alive? And were special? And made a difference for good?

And these children's parent's - don't they need a little levity, to see someone make their sick child smile?

Think of the children's ward scenes in Robin Williams' movie Patch Adams. The movie producers used children who really had cancer in that movie. Did ya see how those kids lit up for Patch Adamses clowning? Man, I want to do that!

And then the people of all ages in the "regular" hospital. Cancer. Heart attacks. Etc. How would you like to spend your birthday so sick in the hospital? Maybe they too wonder if they ever brought a moment of joy or goodness to this world.

I'm not so sure about the county mental hospital! I am enough of a nut! I can see the doctors thinking that they need to give me a hypodermic and put a straightjacket on me! LOL!

Anyway, I want to do whatever I can as the Birthday Bandit to let people know that they matter! That their being here on this planet has made a difference for good! That they are special, precious, beautiful, loveable, enjoyable, and most of all that Jesus loves them.

Please offer a little two second prayer for me that WHEN it is God's timing to heal me of CFS - whether by medicine or prayer or both - that I will get to see my dream come true of being a Volunteer Birthday Clown. And that I will have the courage to really go through with it.

Thanks for even a two second prayer. If any of my readers have any suggestions how I can begin to go about learning how to be a clown, etc. I am all ears. If you don't want to leave a comment on my blog, then please message me through the Xanga system. Thank you kindly.

March 6, 2007.

Christmas Decorations!

Well, I am ashamed to admit that my Christmas tree is STILL UP and STILL FULLY DECORATED. However, I think this week will possibly be its undoing if I can shake this nasty viral infection and escape ME/CFS post-viral syndrome. Right now I am simply too weak, shaky, and feverish. Been in bed most of the past 24 hours.

In the meantime, in moments of energy, I have been gradually removing Christmas decorations from around the house. My extended family knows me well, and this means they know I am a Christmas Nut, hence they buy me Christmas/Winter decorations. I have actually been removing Christmas decorations from display around the house for about a week now. It's still going to take awhile. It's hard to believe that twenty years ago, I didn't have so many Christmas decorations.

I think I'm going to write a children's book about a nice old (!!!) lady who lives in The Magic Christmas Cottage, which is disguised as really a very ordinary looking, simple Cape Cod in the heart of a small city in the Upper Midwest. An angel from God sends sad, lonely, sick, and troubled people to The Magic Christmas Cottage (maybe I should forget the word "magic"?) so that the true spirit/meaning of Christmas can be born in their hearts. Each room in the Christmas Cottage holds certain happy lessons for the visitors to learn, and the cottage holds more rooms than anyone thinks. People invited by God's angel to visit Christmas Cottage never really want to go visit there... but once they decide to accept the angel's invitation, they never want to leave... until they learn the Most Important Happy Lesson and then they are ready to go back out to the world to share what they've learned with other people... so that in the long run, EVERYONE goes to the BIG Christmas Cottage. Forever. (Copyright on this idea! LifeIsAPolka ©).

Perhaps a little ambitious, and perhaps leaning a bit much on George MacDonald, but if I smooth out the rough edges, I think it will work. Dare me to try? It won't be preachy or smarmy if I can help it!

Anyway, I will have you know that I have just discovered that snowmen decorations must be male and female (yes, I DO have the Hallmark™ Christmas 2005 Caroling Mr. and Mrs. Snowman, for the record) because they multiply like rabbits! Losh! Where did I come up with so many snowpeople?????!!!!!! I think it is time to send a message to my extended family perhaps they should try Folk Art Santas!!!!!

The Snow People are beginning to rival the Pink Flamingo decorations in this house in number! Eeks! Talk about clashing seasons! I don't know whether to wear a ski sweater, LL Bean flannel lined jeans, and ragg wool socks, or to don a short sleeved polo shirt (so shoot me, I either dress preppy or ragamuffin - take your pick!), shorts, and flip flops (okay, I admit it - I don't even like flip flops in the summer - I am Mountain Folk and go barefoot as much as possible!).

Anyway, I've got my work cut out for me this week and weekend, undecorating. I better get rested up! And... I'm really going to write that book. I need to take a nap and semi-dream about that. Elisa knows what I mean about the creative juices flowing in that state between waking and sleeping. It's like Paul Bunyan's popcorn eating.

PS: Would you believe these Christmas decorations have been up since Halloween?????!!!!!! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!

Currently Listening
Moondance
By Van Morrison
"Brand New Day"

March 4, 2007.

Old Time Radio: Take A Trip To Yesteryear!

Gerttie commented on one of my earlier posts that she too enjoys listening to old time radio programs, and asked which ones are my favorites. Gerttie, you and Rene' and I must be kindred spirits!

I love so many of these priceless programs, so bear with me if the list gets really long. I am blurting out names in no particular order.

The Jack Benny Show, Fibber McGee & Molly, Burns & Allen, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day, The Great Gildersleeve, Ozzie & Harriet, Dragnet, Gangbusters, Philip Marlowe (a detective series), The Shadow, The Adventures of Maisie, OUR MISS BROOKS (this is prolly my current favorite), The Abbott and Costello Show, Sherlock Holmes, Gunsmoke, The Aldrich Family, My Favorite Husband (what Lucy did before I Love Lucy), Martin & Lewis (meaning, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis), The Life of Riley, and The Danny Kaye Show.

I am making the acquaintance of more shows all the time. I think I might even test the waters of very old Science Fiction. :) I prefer comedies and suspense.

Like Gerttie said she does, I like to listen to old radio shows in bed, in the dark, and let my imagination picture the cast of characters and the scenery. This is what my dad said he and his brothers did when they were growing up. As much of a fan as I am of great cinematography, I am truly more of an aural person (things hit me more strongly through my ears than my eyes), and I like the opportunity that radio programs give me to exercise my imagination.

Even listening to the old commercials from the original sponsors of these shows are a "trip". They didn't use S-E-X to sell everything back in the days of World War II. It is refreshing.

If you are stuck in the house with a bad cold or flu, or are snowbound, or are just lacking the "oomph" to get out of the house this winter, I warmly encourage all y'all to look on the 'net for streaming radio stations of old time radio shows. It's truly like Time Travel to a completely different era. I can't begin to express the joy it gives me. And, as I've mentioned in the past on this blog, old radio shows help me feel connected to my four grandparents (now with Jesus) in the prime of their lives. It also helps me connect with my parents and their siblings, for these are programs they listened to in their youth - even after they had television sets at home (my dad is 67 and my mom is 64). It's so cool!

I don't want to offend anyone, but if we think we have tough times now, it isn't ANYTHING like what most Americans went through during World War II. Sugar, Eggs, Butter, and MEAT were rationed, as were a multitude of other things. Our ancestors had meatless meals at least two days a week so that the meat could be sent overseas for the men who were fighting. And that's just the beginning of how they sacrificed. My Papa (maternal grandfather) had to leave for Europe in the Army shortly after my mom was born, and he was gone for at least three years. Three years that my Nani (maternal grandmother) worked in a munitions plant. Three years that my mom was in government daycare at the munitions plant, and she and Nani lived in a tin hut. Three years that my mom didn't know her Daddy. Three years of very hard times. Hard times which have left a permanent mark. And this was the story for A LOT OF PEOPLE. Our ancestors did a whale of a lot for their country. I am ashamed of myself for the whining I do.

*off soapbox*

You can find some of these free stations within your iTunes player, or you can subscribe to podcasts (which is what I do, and I listen to them on my Sansa MP3 player). Some of you are fortunate enough to have "regular" radio stations in your locale which broadcast Old Time Radio. Or, some of you have Satellite Radio. Surely Sirius must have some Old Time Radio! I s'pose Real Player has some radio stations for this as well.

Anyway, I am starting to shiver again so it's time to get into some clean flannel jammies, grab my orange juice and herbal tea, and then crawl back into bed to listen to The Danny Kaye Show. Oh! There is also The Alan Young Show, which is what Alan did before he went on to star as Wilbur in Mister Ed.

Happy Sunday, Everyone! Don't forget to spend extra time with Jesus today! It's His Day!

Edit: Your local public library is also a great place to find Old Time Radio shows on CD or on audio cassettes!

Currently Listening
Andrews Sisters - Their All-Time Greatest Hits
By The Andrews Sisters
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"

March 4, 2007.

Knitting Alert: Knitted Wool Helmet Liners Needed for Our Troops Overseas

Even if you are a beginning knitter, this project is "do-able": Knitted wool helmet liners for our troops who are serving overseas in winter climates. You can begin reading about it here. Let's show our troops how much we care! And if you don't know how to knit, please consider learning how. Many craft stores give lessons. If you learn better from printed instructions and diagrams, consider visiting Lion Brand Yarns website, or About.com's Knitting website (I'll hunt up the links for you in a jiff!). At the very least, please offer even a two second prayer (a "golden arrow", as St. Francis de Sales put it) for our troops.

Edit: The 'net is clogged tonight; I can't access ANY of the links to the Lion Brand Yarn website. I'll try again later on Sunday, Lord willing! Next, I'll try to find the About.com Knitting site.

March 3, 2007.

On the Bright Side...

On the bright side of things, having a bad day on Friday was relieved a bit by a post-midnight snack of Black Angus Beef and Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Enchiladas, then listening to old time radio shows, followed by a great big chocolate bar and a cup of strong black coffee.

I have a semi-miserable upper respiratory infection and have fever and chills, so it's not much fun sitting at the computer. Thus, I am am crawling back in my cozy bed (another thing on the bright side), with my favorite blue microplush blanket and homemade quilts (hand-tied by Grammy many years ago), with my dear little gray and white tiger purrson (Miss Maggie McGee Kitten) snuggling at my feet, from where I will watch another DVD.

Remember life before remote control televisions? Today, let's thank God for remote controls! Hee hee

Currently Watching
Wodehouse Playhouse, Series 2
By Pauline Collins

March 3, 2007.



What Fun Is NOT

What fun is not is: Two people who are sick and ornery (one of those people has an industrial strength case of PMS) and who are trapped in the same house together, unable to get out and escape from each other because they are snowbound... and the friend with the snowblower can't come until late at night.

It's been a HELL of a day.

Currently Watching
The Thin Man (Keepcase)
By William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell, Porter Hall, Henry Wadsworth, William Henry, Harold Huber, Cesar Romero, Natalie Moorhead, Edward Brophy, Edward Ellis, Cyril Thornton, Robert Homans, Clay Clement, Edward Hearn, Raymond Brown, Fred Malatesta, Asta (II)

March 1, 2007.

Oy Gevalt!

Too much chocolate + another major winter snow storm (complete with thunder and lightning, no less!) = one wide awake Chris who wants to vacuum closets and listen to polkas in the middle of the night. Oy gevalt!

My dad's room is right next door to mine, and he just went to bed (so tired from Emergency Preparedness Shopping on Wednesday night [one LP indoor space heater, a big battery operated Lantern, bottled water, canned goods, bread, and last but not least - CHOCOLATE!)].

Our new home is a very charming Cape Cod built in 1946, and part of its "charm" (depending on whether one has a headache or not) is the squeaking floors. My dad too had too much chocolate (I know, that really does sound like an oxymoron!), and is desperate for sleep but is finding it impossible to catch any Zzzz's. Hence, I am trying to be really quiet in the hopes that he will eventually fall asleep faster so that I can make noise organizing all of my dresser drawers (my dresser drawers sound like thunder in the distance).

So, I've been knitting up a storm but finding it difficult to focus, so I think I'll roll my office chair over to the writing desk (which I inherited from my Italian Nani - lovely cherry wood with lots of cubby holes and drawers - the pride of my eyes even though it is usually stacked with a foot of letters, papers, and art supplies).

I digress. I think I will coast the office chair over to the writing desk, do some minimal tidying, and then commence some Crayola Therapy. (My kingdom for a new coloring book. I am tiring of Winnie the Pooh! ). There is something hypnotically soothing about coloring with crayons in a coloring book in the middle of the night, in the middle of a fierce winter storm (complete with thunder and lightning, no less!).

***

As y'all can see in my Xangazon box, I have Netflixed Remington Steele, Season One. Actually, I finished watching it on Tuesday night and mailed it back on Wednesday. But it was interesting. The writing in the first two episodes wasn't as sharp as I had remembered from back in the 1980's, but in episodes three and four the writers and cast started to hit their stride. I will always remember Pierce Brosnan for Remington Steele, not for James Bond. It's so nice to see a handsome man with a SENSE OF HUMOR. Some of them can be so pretentious.

***

It remains to be seen whether the weather will permit us to do our banking today (Thursday). I pay for my Netflix with a Visa gift card from the bank, and need to get a new gift card - from the local branch of the bank - today to pay for my Netflix for the month of March.

***

I am getting into full throttle Irish Mode. Crank up the volume on your speakers and enjoy the traditional Irish folk song.

***

Okay, I really need to do my Crayola Therapy now. I am actually using some psychology on myself by doing that, meaning if I enjoy coloring, then maybe it will evolve into some Calligraphy....

In the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh: Happy Thursday!

Currently Watching
Remington Steele - Season 1
By Stephanie Zimbalist, Pierce Brosnan, James Read (II), Janet DeMay, Doris Roberts

February 26, 2007.

Prayer Shawl Talk, Part Three

[I finished the knitting of my first prayer shawl this evening. It is about 60 inches long. If it were a prayer shawl someone was giving to me, I would like it to be longer (and I even have short arms!) because my hands get cold easily and it would feel nice to be able to cuddle my hands in the shawl. I used only 2 and half skeins of Lion Brand Yarn "Homespun". I'll make another shawl in the same color (Williamsburg) using 2 and half skeins. But after that, I will be making shawls longer - such as 3 or 3 and half skeins. Thanks to Gerttie and Elisa for their input on fringe! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't think fringe should go on these shawls. But to each her own! :)]

***

Shawl Instructions Knitting and Crochet

Materials:

Knitting: Knitting Needle size 11 or 13
-OR-
Crochet: Size 'M', 'N' or 'P' crochet hook

Amount of yarn needed:

Knitted: 555 yards in the yarn of your choice.

Crochet and larger shawls: 740 yards for longer shawls and 60+ stitches

Before You Begin:

Because this is a spiritual practice, before one begins the knitting (crochet) process, a blessing, prayer or wish can be said, dedicating the work of your hands and the intentions of the receiver. You may want to light a candle and play soft music to enhance your knitting time, remembering that this is a prayerful time. When working in a group, you may want to pass the work-in-progress around the circle, asking each person to add some stitches to the shawl, or to just hold it for a while to add their prayers, energy and good wishes.

Knitting Directions

Cast on stitches in multiples of three - 54, 57, 60 or 63. For example, if you use size 11 needles and cast on 54 stitches, 3 skeins of yarn is enough. Some yarns vary in elasticity which will affect your outcome, as will your knitting tension. If the yarn you have chosen has a multicolored stripe, be careful when tying on a new skein. Make sure the color sequence is correct. Also, tie on the new skein in the body of the shawl, instead of an edge, as the ends tend to show.
* First Row: k3, p3, to end
* Second Row: Always start the next row with the opposite stitch of what you see. For instance, if the first stitch on the needle is a knit, then start with a purl.
KNIT THE PURLS AND PURL THE KNITS! It should NOT look like ribbing.

Note: If you cast on 57 or 63 stitches you will always start with K3

Crochet Directions

Chain 54 stitches or desired width of shawl.
Chain 1, turn, single crochet in each of the stitches to end. Chain 3 and turn.
Double crochet in top of each single crochet. Repeat this row 2 more times.
Chain 1 and do 1 row of single crochet to end. Chain 3 and turn.
Do 3 rows of double crochet. Repeat pattern to end (1 row single, 3 rows double)
End with 1 row of single. Finish with fringe.
*Note: that crocheting typically uses more yarn than knitting, so you might have to adjust the width and size of hook or use another 1/2 skein. It has been suggested that 7 skeins of the same dye lot be purchased and crochet two shawls each using 3 1/2 skeins. Another suggestion, if you are trying to obtain 3 skeins, is to integrate other yarn colors into the shawl.

To Complete the shawl:

Knit (crochet) until the piece measures from wrist to wrist, or approximately 57-58" long. (Knitting: bind off with a knit row). Use what you have left to cut *fringe. Suggestion for fringe: you can also do this before tying on the third skein, then continue knitting to the end. Divide the pile in half and slip knot them to the ends, evenly spaced. If the yarn is manufactured loosely wound, you might have to knot the ends of the fringe to keep it from unraveling.

Now that the shawl is completed:
You may want to add beads and/or charms to the fringe. They can be new or parts of old pieces of jewelry. They not only add beauty, but also can be used to inspire or aid meditation. Before you give it away, say a blessing, prayer or wish over the shawl, keeping the receiver in mind. Another nice touch is enclosing a potpourri sachet scented with lavender oil, a calming aroma, or any essential oil that you like. It is also good to enclose an explanation and/or a blessing, prayer or wish for the receiver. For instance, if you choose a certain symbolic color for the yarn, beads or charms it's interesting and helpful to explain your reason.

Tassel Instructions

Items needed:

Approximately ½ to ⅓ skein of yarn

*Cut: 76 pieces of yarn each 54" in length

Remember to cut lengths for the tassels before using up all of your yarn on the shawl!

This should be done before adding your last skein to the shawl.

Crochet Hook Size: 1/9 – 5.50mm (or similar)

Scissors

27" X 27" piece of heavy cardboard or fabric-covered plywood

Flat open surface to work on

*The easiest way to make multiple strands of yarn is by taking a 27" piece of sturdy cardboard (or several glued together) or a piece of plywood covered with fabric to prevent snags and splinters. For each rotation (back and front of board or around in a circle) count off 38 times. Cut off only one end and you will have 38 pieces, each at 54". This amount is enough to complete one side of the shawl. Make an additional 38 strands for the opposite side of the shawl.

To attach the tassels:

Place the shawl on a flat surface with the binded edge facing you. Place your crochet hook (down) into the binded row, on the outside edge. Now, take two (2) strands of yarn and line up the (4) cut ends together. Fold these in half to find the middle (tassel length +/- 12"). Hook these eight (8) pieces of yarn to the crochet hook and pull them (up) through the binded edge of the shawl, approximately 1-2" to form a loop. It is through this loop that you will insert the ends through. Pull the tassels to tighten up the up the connection between the shawl and the tassels. Add a set of tassels every 1 ½ to 3".

TIPS

Shawl Tip: I have found that I want to continue praying for the recipients of my shawls after they are finished and sent on their way, so I save a small scrap of yarn and tie it onto an old knitting needle. Since I make each shawl (so far!) out of a different kind of yarn, this helps me remember each person. I keep the needle by my bed so I can use it to guide my meditations for them. I, like many of the other knitters here, are disappointed by the raveling of some yarn. To avoid that, I have instead purchased 1/8" satin ribbon in the colors of the yarn (often a spool runs about $.50--it takes just over one spool to do one shawl) and used that to make fringe. I measure fingertip-to-elbow and then cut that in half. I pull it halfway through the shawl edge with a crochet hook and then tie the two sides together in a simple knot. If the yarn is variegated, I try to use several different colors of ribbon--otherwise I use about 4 lengths of just one color that coordinates.


Shawl Tip: "If the person receiving the shawl has (or has had) breast cancer, do the card in pink with a pink ribbon.

Knitting Tip: When casting on: go up a size on the needle. This will give you a looser binding edge. For example: If you are using size: 11 needles for the body of your work - then cast on using size: 13 needles (for the first row only).

Knitting Tip: To give the outside edge of your shawl a more even and finished look: slip the first stitch of every row onto your needle (this means without adding a knit or purl). Continue knitting and purling to the end of the row. (Note: it is not necessary to add extra stitches to the pattern. Simply put - the first stitched that you slip off will become your "last" stitch on the next row. It is this "last" stitch that you need to be concerned with. Make sure that it receives either a 'knit' or 'purl' stitch - depending on the pattern.)

Crochet Tip: "After reading over the directions, I tried using a half double crochet stitch and I am very pleased with the results. The half double incorporated the trinity idea, using three loops per stitch. I share this with you because it makes a lovely shawl and is quite warm."

Crochet Tip [pattern]: I use a size 'N' hook and three super-size skeins of yarn. I chain 54 stitches to start. Then I chain one, and turn it. I single crochet one row, chain two, turn. Then I do 3 rows of the half double crochet. (chain 2 after the half double rows). For the single rows, I chain one before I do the single row.

Crochet Pattern: Another crochet pattern I have tried which works nicely and incorporates the pattern of three is to do 3 rows of single crochet alternating with 3 rows of double crochet. Finishing the sides and ends with a row of single or half double crochet is a nice finish.

Fringe Tip: "My fringe (even when knotted) seems to "melt" and lose form. I'm using 57 stitches with a garter stitch, and for the first AND last 3 or 4 inches I'm knitting the yarn together with a coordinating or contrasting "fun-fur". Then I don't use the fringe. This gives a very attractive edge on both ends, and makes a very tailored wrap. I'll probably knit the shawl for a little longer length to make up for the absence of fringe."

Fur Fringe Tip: You can knit on the fringe. Cast on 63 sts. Complete one row of the Fur Stitch. Complete the body of the shawl. Work one row of the Fur Stitch. Bind off. Weave in the ends.

Pattern for Knitted in fringe: The fur stitch Row 1 (RS): K1, *K1 but do not drop st off left needle, bring yarn forward between needles to make the fringe (you may wind over a piece of cardboard for fringe of a uniform length), take yarn between needles to the back and K in the same st again, pass the first stitch over the second and drop it off the left needle*. Repeat *.* on remaining 60 sts, K1.

Tassel Tip: I found that the certain yarns fray terribly. Even knotting the ends didn't help too much. So I put on the tassels and then washed the whole shawl in the gentle cycle. I then put the shawl on towels and let it air-dry. By the time the shawl was almost dry, the tassels looked awful, as you can imagine, all frayed and tangled. I then took a wide-tooth comb and began to gently comb each tassel. After that, I took a little bit finer comb and repeated combing each tassel. Then I trimmed all the tassels to even out the ends. The result is an "evenly frayed" tassel that looks similar to a horse's tail. It looks pretty and eliminates the worry about how long before the tassel will fray."

Fringe Tip: One of the ladies in my group at church came up with a great idea for fringe for the fraying yarn. To avoid it she took her knitted shawl and crocheted chained loops across the bottom of each end. She would single crochet in the shawl and then she would chain about 25 and then single crochet in the shawl again all the way across. She then blocked them to make them lie flat. It made a nice fringe without all the fraying.

Crochet Edge Tip: I didn't put fringe on the shawl, as I was concerned that it might be in the way, or might get caught in her wheelchair. When I got to the end of the shawl, I finished the edge with "reverse " crochet, working left to right, on both ends of the shawl. It gave a nice finish, and it will not curl later.

Crochet Beads to the edge of a shawl: To add beads on the end of a shawl, use a smaller crochet hook. Place the bead on the hook and 'single crochet' the bead into the edge of the shawl.

Currently Reading
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii
By Lee Goldberg

February 26, 2007. Pictures will be added soon

Preparing for Visitors: Reminiscing About Jack A. Lope's Last Visit

Well friends, it is 4 a.m. and snowing and blowing to beat the band. Those of you who've known me over the years realize that nighttime snowstorms invariably mean that I will be awake and very silly for the entire night.

I tried to fight it tonight - honest I did! I was going to drudge in my computer folders by labeling and organizing photos and such in a neat and logical way (NEAT AND LOGICAL IN MY DREAMS! LOL!), but then madness and merry mayhem broke out in my poor little illogical, un-neat mind when I came across some memorable snapshots of Jack A. Lope's last visit.

So, please join me as I take a stroll down Mirthfully Merry Memory Lane, under the leadership of General Insanity. Together, we will learn about jackalopes and their quirks and fancies.

*Note: I realize that a number of you are going through hard times right now. I have truly been praying for you often. I am just fresh out of comforting words right now, just so burned out this week. You are really better off with my prayers than my silly, stoopid, not-sensitive and not-sensible enough words. In the meantime, if the Jackalope Reminiscences can bring even a tiny smile or giggle to you, it would make me happy. If not, well, at least I tried.

***


Jack A. Lope came to visit us in our new home last winter. He was sooo tired from his travels that he needed some time to chill in bed listening to some Appalachian Christmas Quartet music.

Jackalopes need their Beauty Sleep (and lots of it!), lest they become excessively mean, ornery, nasty, and bare their extremely sharp and pointy teeth. ::gasp:: Have you ever met a sleep-deprived Jackalope before? I think not! If you had, you wouldn't be alive anymore. Eek!


While he was here last winter for a visit (we expect him to arrive in again any moment now), Jack A. Lope spent some time at the computer sending prank emails to his friends. Jackalopes are known not only for their musical talent with the Appalachian Christmas Quartet, but also for their zany, brilliant, albeit wild sense of humor. Are there any Jackalopes in your life? If so, be on your guard. They are terrible practical jokers.... MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!


Jackalope is from a family that is anti-Microsoft. When he was here for a visit last winter, he was frustrated with attempting to send email using Outlook Express (which I can't live without... so shoot me, I did not really like Mozilla Thunderbird. Guess I'm not enough of a geek). Here is Jack A. Lope reading some tips on Outlook Express, at the old computer. (We have a new one now, and when Jack blows into town again this weekend with the blizzard, I am afraid he is going to go crazy playing computer games on the new 'puter. Sigh. He only comes here for the hot chocolate, the food, and the technological perks. Ingrate! :))

After emailing his friends in Kansas that he made it here safely, Jack wanted to PLAY with Maggie McGee and Kiki Thomas McFierceson Kitties.


Did you know that Jackalopes are professionals at playing Hide and Seek? And did you know that they like to hide on the Christmas Tree???? Well, now you know! :P
Here is a bit of a zoom on the shot of Jack A. Lope hiding in the Christmas Tree during our game of Hide and Seek. Maggie and Kiki found him though. They are used to his tricks!

(Extra points to whoever finds the gold filigree FLAMINGO...)

TO BE CONTINUED THIS WEEK, LORD WILLING.

Spiritual Childhood: Encouraging Quote

To remain a child before God means to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God. It is not to become discouraged over our failings, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.

- St. Therese of Lisieux

February 25, 2007.

[In just under seven months, it will be the tenth anniversary of Rich Mullins going Home to be with Jesus. While there has been a lull in the amount of time I spend listening to his music, there are still times when only Rich's music will speak God's peace to my tattered, aching heart. It is the same for many of us. I will try to get back to posting the Rich QOTD more consistently, Lord willing.]

Bernie Sheahan About Rich Mullins, Part One


Rich couldn't put all of his consistently contradictory life into his songs, nor did he try. Though so many of us can say, "He seemed to know what I feel," a closer look at his lyrics doesn't reveal the kind of navel-gazing personal angst one might find elsewhere. Blood, yes. Sweat, yes. Tears, of course. Mostly, the piercingly poetic love of God, squeezed through heart and soul and some unearthly vision he had in his head, and, as my pal Carolyn Arends wrote, "they rhymed."
God is what he wanted you to get, not him. And that's what we got. How many of us - raise your hands - put on a Rich Mullins CD when nothing else will do, when we need comfort in our grief (even, yes, over him right now), strength in our troubles, and joy in our dark days? How many of us know that Rich Mullins seems to disappear from the picture when we hear these songs, and God Himself appears, bright, clear, present in our need, whatever it is?

Rich Mullins - As Best As I Can Remember Him, Vol. 1
Bernie Sheahan
CCM Magazine
November 1997

Found at http://kidbrothers.net/test/words/magazine-articles/ccm-magazine-nov97-2.html

*Please Support Dave and Robin Mullins and the Kid Brothers of St. Frank with your prayers and to see how else your support can be vital go to the website at www.kidbrothers.org


*Please support the Legacy! Also, enjoy radio with a spiritual bent and Rich Mullins exclusives at http://legacyministry.org/

Currently Listening
Brother's Keeper
By Rich Mullins
"Wounds of Love"

February 25, 2007.

Cat Quotation of the Day - February 25, 2007.

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not."

- Ernest Hemingway

Currently Listening
An Anthology of Big Band Swing (1930-1955)
By Various Artists
"Peg O' My Heart"

February 24, 2007.

Prayer Shawl Talk, Part II

Here is another excerpt from the info sheet on prayer shawls from my parish Shawl Ministry chairperson. One of the reasons that the number "3" is given a focus is because one of the easiest and most common prayer shawl patterns is based on a knit 3, purl 3 seed stitch (the pattern itself will be shared in a separate blog entry yet to come). Also, while the colors are supposed to have "meanings", please don't let that tie you down to something. For example, while I like what blue is supposed to stand for, I chose it not so much because of those meanings but because it is the traditional color of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus the Lord. I have a deep appreciation for Mary and what a mother she must have been to Jesus in His earthly life - a mother who He gave to us while He was dying on the Cross.

Here tonight's excerpt:

"The Symbolism of 3

We’ve all heard people say that "things happen in 3’s."

In the Christian faith tradition, the number 3, symbolized by the Trinity (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer), has come to mean wholeness. The 3 attributes of God are omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. It is said that the number 3 is used 523 times in Scripture!
Many phases of life happen in combinations of three:

child/adult/senior
mother/father/child
past/present/future.
There are 3 acts of existence - birth/life/death.
We’ve heard of the concept of:

Body/mind/ spirit, which encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual makeup of a human being.
We have been encouraged to live and act in faith/hope/charity.
The combination of thought, word, and deed is the sum of the capability of humans.
The number 3 stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire.

According to the Chinese, 3 is a perfect number;
To the Mayan, the sacred number of woman.
Egyptians see it as the number of the cosmos.
Japanese: 3 Treasures – truth/courage/compassion
In general:

there are 3 primary colors;
there are 3 keys of music: sol, F, and C;
the three divine principles: light, heat, and life;
three phases of the moon;
the earth, sea, and sky of nature.
The 3-stitch seed pattern was selected as symbolic of planting peace, comfort and hope into the shawls by the shawl maker for the receiver. May you be inspired by the significance of these symbolisms which are meant to enhance the creating and receiving process of the Prayer Shawl Ministry.

THE MEANING of COLORS

This is a basic list of colors and some of the attributes associated with them. It might be helpful to use it as a guideline when you’re selecting a color for a particular person for whom you’re knitting a Prayer Shawl.

RED - love, passion, respect, energy, enthusiasm, courage, understanding, motivation, strength,

MAROON – bravery, strength,

MAGENTA – spirituality, meditation, imagination, release, new beginnings

PINK - friendship, compassion, sensitivity, generosity, warm-heartedness, nurturing, gratitude,

ORANGE - thoughtfulness, vitality, attraction, creativity, energy, enthusiasm, warmth

PEACH – innocence, empathy, harmony, warmth, peace

YELLOW - wisdom, learning, optimism, intuition, faith, well-being, friendship, happiness,

GREEN - earth, healing, prosperity, fertility, sympathy, hope, renewal, health, balance, life

BLUE - water, healing, meditation, tranquility, honesty, loyalty, communication, peace,

sincerity, wisdom, spirituality, faith, self-esteem, universal color, cool & calming

INDIGO - wisdom, insight, instinct, integration, integrity, spiritual nature

VIOLET - Spirit, spirituality, intuition, truth, memory, nostalgia, humility, comfort during grief or mourning, peaceful

PURPLE - power, leadership, royalty, truth, justice, temperance, spirituality, wisdom

BROWN – wholesome, honesty, steadfastness, simplicity, friendliness, dependability, stability

BLACK – Self confidence, strength, protection, absorbs negativity, mature wisdom

WHITE - Spirit, innocence, protection, peace, purity, virtue, gentleness, perfection, illumination, reverence, humility

GOLD - masculine energy, enlightenment

SILVER - feminine energy, intuition, flexibility

GRAY – strength, balance, reliable"

***

I am just about through two skeins of Homespun yarn into my K3, P3 seed stitch prayer shawl. I think I will knit two more skeins onto this and make it a prodigiously long shawl, and then add the fifth skein as fringe. I am also thinking of crocheting a fringe or crocheting a scalloped border rather than doing a "regular" fringe. While I think regular fringe is tasteful and pretty, I do know that I myself do NOT like the feel of it on my skin. I don't know about other women who don't have sensory issues like I do with my ME/CFS and ADD-type symptoms, but if *I were going to be using a shawl in times of emotional distress, I wouldn't want the fringe bothering me.

What do you ladies think? Should I just crochet a pretty scalloped border, or what?

February 23, 2007.

You Just So Never Know!

God is fulla surprises! Good ones! Great ones! Unexpected ones! Ha Ha! Big ones, little ones, medium ones, and all shapes, sizes, and colors of ones! Hallelujah!

I was having a really rough evening with health issues, including a very achy leg which acts up when snow is on the way. Nothing helped! I was really getting distraught, because I was in one of those fussy/fidgety moods which equal tossing and turning in bed if I would have sought shelter under my microplush blanket while listening to podcasts.

Then all of a sudden, the pain left! So did the fusses and fidgets! I was able to settle down to knit and to pray, and just plain felt relaxed.

I had been resigned to a night of pain and unpleasantness, and God said, "Enough! Relief and peace and comfort and joy are on the way!"

You just so never know!

The same applies to more serious situations and concerns in our lives. We might have taken some actions at one time - in the past, or very recently - which were well intended and were not morally wrong. However, our good intentions and hope were not YET rewarded with the desired results. And then we feel badly about our actions, about ourselves and who we are, and we second-guess (one word or two?!) ourselves and then God.

But this is basing things on seeing things with the eyes of the flesh, and not with the eyes of FAITH.

Okay, so we haven't seen the much hoped for "results" - but weren't those actions and efforts and attentions "seeds planted"??? Certainly they were! But, we might have thought that the seeds we planted were zucchini seeds, which germinate quickly and produce food quickly (not to mention prolifically!). But maybe what we really planted were tomato seeds, which aren't as easy to grow as zucchini, and need much more TLC - and PATIENCE.

The Lord God is the Master Gardener, and He knows what He's doing with our seeds and our watering (watering is our prayers, our hopes, our trusting in His utter goodness).

Just when we think our seeds have rotted in the ground and all of our efforts have been a waste... a green shoot appears! Maybe several! Then leaves! And then fruit!

You just so never know!

Don't let your dreams die! Surrender them to the Lord, and remember that even when we mistakenly plant weeds, God can bring great, wild, unimaginably fabulous GOOD and MIRACLES out of it. And remember that sometimes when we plant seeds that we eventually think are weeds, God can and does "write straight with crooked lines" as Corrie ten Boom was so fond of saying.

In the meantime, as we pray and hope and trust and wait - God enlarges our hearts to receive the maximum hugeness of the blessings He wants to lavish on us. (I am drawing on St. Augustine of Hippo for this).

You just so never know. That's the Ceili Rain song playing in the background. Crank it up!

Happy Friday!

Currently Listening
Change in Your Pocket
By Ceili Rain
"You Just So Never Know"

February 23, 2007.

Prayer Shawl Talk, Part I

As promised, I am going to incrementally share bits and pieces of a six page Word document which our parish Shawl Ministry chairperson sent me. Today's introduction will be a bit long. Here is the beginning:

"Shawls ... made for centuries universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles…”

Written in 1998 by: Janet Bristow © 2006

***

About the Shawl Ministry...

In 1998, Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo, two graduates of the 1997 Women's Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut gave birth to a ministry as a result of their experience in this program of applied Feminist Spirituality under the direction of Professor Miriam Therese Winter, MMS. Care and the love of knitting have been combined into a prayerful ministry that reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace. Many blessings are *knitted into every shawl.

Whether they are called: "Prayer Shawls", "Comfort Shawls", "Peace Shawls" or "Mantles" just to name a few; the knitter begins each shawl with prayers and blessings for the recipient. Intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. When the shawl is completed it is offered a final ritual before being sent along its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making one themselves and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing is rippled from person to person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God!

Some uses for the shawl...
Undergoing medical procedures; as a comfort after a loss, during bereavement, prayer or meditation, commitment or marriage ceremonies, birthing, nursing a baby; as a bridal shower gift; leading ritual; during an illness and recovery; ministering to others or just socializing... There are endless possibilities!

To make a shawl personal, the giver or the recipient may want to adorn the shawl with beads, shells, feathers and charms. A blessing or ritual maybe offered when the gift is presented.

[to be continued in a couple of days]

Currently Reading
Mr. Monk and The Blue Flu
By Lee Goldberg

Until I Have Time...

Until I have time, energy, and patience to sit down for long enough to copy blog entries from my main vanity blog at Xanga.com to here at Blogger, you can read my posts at Life Is A Polka at Xanga.

Y'all come back now, hear? :)