Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Musings about Being Forty-Five

Last night I was putting away a magazine that my husband had left on the floor and happened to notice a thought-provoking essay. I'm too lazy to go check for sure, but I think the it was entitled, "It's All Downhil from Here." The jist of the essay was that your body and brain start falling apart after age twenty. At first, I thought the essay's tone was going to be funny, but it was actually depressing overall. Then today, I was driving home from work, and NPR had a story about how most people are less happy in their forties. Since I am smack dab (I think that's the first time I've ever written the words "smack dab.") in the middle of my forties, I decided to ponder that whether I think it really sucks getting older.

I think that I have felt more comfortable in my skin as I've gotten older, but my forties have been quite stressful-- not unhappy, just exhausting. I've always struggled between being a devoted parent and working, but as my children have gotten older, I've let work wear me out more than I allowed it to when I was younger. You'd think I would know better. I'm not a workaholic. I don't even like working that much, but I have spent too much time working during my forties, especially teaching night classes. Getting my Master's degree was satisfiying but also pretty much all consuming for four years. Even when I wasn't working on it, I was feeling guilty that I wasn't. I also used to run close to twenty-five miles a week all through my thirties. It's seemed like too much to me for the last couple of years though.

After saying that I think I've figured out the secret to being happy when you're in your forties. It's to slow down on things that wear you out. I have been a lot happier recently than I've been for a long time, and it's because I've definitely had more leisure time in just the last couple of months. For the last year or so I was running less because I was either sick or exhasuted. Now I'm intentionally running less, I'm finished with writing difficult papers, and I don't intend to teach another night class. I've made time to do the things I like to do. I've cooked lots of good dinners, gone on walks with my husband, and actually enjoyed going to my kids' sporting events since I wasn't fitting them between lots of other obligations, and I've had time to KNIT...
And that's all I want to say about that!

I like knitting stuff for myself, but it's fun to feel like I have the time to knit little gifts too. My husband mentioned the other day how cute he thought our neice's little son, who got to see when he was back visiting his father before he died, was. He was saying that he'd like to get him a little gift for Easter. I thought, "Well, I can knit him a little rabbit." I notice that his legs are a little too short, but I think he's pretty sweet. He's knit from a skein of angora I bought at Threads in Lincoln, Nebraska for under five dollars. I knit his sweater from some Rowan cotton that I bought from Woodland Woolworks to knit some Easter eggs from a pattern that Julie has posted on her blog.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I don't follow dog shows at all, but, of course, it would have been difficult this week not to hear that a beagle won the Westminster Dog Show. I don't understand how they choose, but I agree with their choice this year. Beagles are cuddle with...

and protect you...

and to sleep with you...

and to read with you...

even though they sometimes drool on my new pink, Crate and Barrel pillow...

...invade the kitty's space...

... chew on new shoe laces.

...and worst of all, steal yarn and try to entice older, more sedate beagles into participating in their shenanigans.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Baby Booties

I have been meaning to knit Saartje's booties for a long time, but typical of me, I've waited until I had to hurry and knit them. I have a baby shower to go to after work tomorrow, and I just finished the second bootie this evening. The recipient is a quilter, so I think she'll be happy to receive something handmade. That's always a dilemma for me. I don't give too many handknit items to people outside of my family. I have two reasons; selfishly, it takes a lot of time; and selfconsciously, I'm not sure I knit nicely enough to be giving my creations away. I can be a little careless when I knit. But I think these botties are suitable as a gift, and I'm also giving her a darling book.

It's a really easy pattern and hardly uses any yarn at all. I used some leftover Lorna Laces, which may not have been the best choice since it's wool. Saarje used Rowan cotton, which would have made it less stretchy. I knit the first bootie in no time at all, but I had trouble with the second one. I went to a a knit group meeting on Saturday afternoon, and discovered that I had counted wrong after I got home. I'm not used to talking to people while I knit I guess. Then last night I must have started and re-started at least five times. I have concentration issues. I'm pretty happy with them though. They look very cute but kind of big...I mean for a baby.

I have to add one sad litle story. I stayed up late last Thursday night to knit Kai's second think wool sock so that he could wear it skiing on Friday. He had been fighting a cold, but I thought he would be OK. IWhat a bad mom! He came home with a fever and said that he went down the hill about three times and spent the rest of the time on the bus sleeping. Poor guy!! He's doing better now although he also missed a church trip to Universal Studios on Saturday, so he was quite bummed. All the work on those socks, and I'm pretty sure that his dad accidentally put them in the regular wash. He won't own up to it, but I also can't find them anywhere. Very suspicious. I also knit him a stocking cap. the picture is a little goofy, but I'm proud of the way the design turned out. I

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Nemesis Knitting

Do other people have skeins of yarn lying around that cause them angst or at least a little discomfort. I've had several skeins of red ragg wool in my stash for over twenty years, and everytime I would run across them I'd feel a little prick of guilt. The labels were lost long ago, but I have a memory of there being "Germantown" on the labels. I looked "Germantown" up, and it no longer even exists. I bought this red yarn over twenty years ago in the little Sierra Nevada foothill town of Sutter Creek, California. Knitting was not the "thing" back then, so I was quite excited to find a yarn store. Yikes! If I remember right, the yarn wa displayed in plastic bags. Russ and I went on a little Christmas trip the first year that we were teaching and actually had some money. Ragg wool sweaters were popular then, and I suppose I thought I'd knit Russ one. I never did though, and as the years went gone by, I became more and more annoyed with myself for not doing something with that yarn. I just couldn't figure out what to do with it.

I finally have found a good use for it! I knit my brother-in-law a hat, which I made Russ and Kai model for me; and I am also knitting Kai some socks with the rest. It's worsted weight, which is way thicker than the yarn called for in any of my "old stand-by" patterns, so I just "guestimated," casting on 44 stitches and knitting a 2x2 rib. Kai is going on a school ski trip on Friday, and he has no wool socks. Last year, his feet were freezing, but there is no way the cold will get in this time. Yay! Good-bye red wool.

I may as well admit that the red hat for my brother-in-law is a Christmas present. I have had all of my sister's family's Christmas gifts done for weeks, but they too have just been sitting there, not taking themselves to the post office. I am quite proud of them, so I will present a few more pic of them before I actually send them this afternoon.

I've knit tons of these hats lately, using the hat pattern in Weekend Knitting. The ear flaps are just added to a basic hat knit in the round. I like it, but I'm ready to try the Thorpe Hat that A Friend to Knit With posted on her blog last month. She has some really cute pictures of her kids and their hats.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


My daughter (She's the one on the left.) turned 16 last Friday. It's so cliche to say that I can't believe it, BUT I really can't believe it. I won't say that every moment of her life has been a joy to us, but most of them have been. My husband used to say when she was little and so willful that she was like a thoroughbred horse. I remember one time when she wasn't even two yet. She was messing with the phone, which she wasn't supposed to do, and evidentally had punched in some numbers because she suddenly got quite angry and said to the phone, "No, I will not hang up and try again!" She wasn't going to let some automated recording tell her what to do. Two of her favorite people in the world, my sister and my sister-in-law (you know tha's you, Ann) get a kick out of her; partly, I think, because they both know me so well and think I deserve to have a daughter who is as headstrong as I am.
She had a nice little party for her birthday. After playing in her high school basketball game until seven o'clock, she had her best friends come to our house to spend the night. They played "Sing Star," on her brother's Playstation. We didn't even complain that they sang so loudly and off key (our opinion) until nearly midnight. Then they watched movies until who knows when...I baked her favorite--carrot cake. I used the recipe from Cook's Illustrated's The New Best Cookbook. In the morning most of the cake was gone, but I hid a piece for myself. It was delicious, if I do say so myself.

Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp soda
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pound carrots (6 to 7 medium) peeled
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (optional)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown suger
4 laerge eggs
1 1/2 cups safflower, canola, or vegetable oil

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.

2. Whist together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

3. In a food processor fitted with the large shredding disk, shred carrots; add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside. (The book says to wipe out the food processor, but I see no reason to do that!)

4. Process the sugars with the eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined. With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process unitl the mixture is light in color about 20 second longer.

5. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in carrots and dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpich inserted into the cener of the cake comes out clean. 35 to 40 minutes.

6. Cool on a wire rack for about two hours, then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Mari had a contest on her site a couple of weeks ago and I won! I love how bloggers have yarn give-aways. I won a scrumptious skein of alpaca yarn. Thanks Mari! Now I just have to decide what it's going to become.

This is in no way meant to be an afterthought, but since I've kind of used this blog as a semi-journal of my life, I want to mention that my father-in-law died a little over a week ago. It wasn't a surprise to us, but despite the doctor's gloomy predictions, it did seem that maybe he would somehow prove them wrong. I am so greatful that Russ flew back to spend that week with him before he died. I don't really want to write about it that much. I've known him since I was nineteen years old. He was something of a character, (that's an understatement) and especially in my younger years, I didn't have a lot of patience for that. Despite his excentricities, his legacy is one of kindness and devotion to God.