Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Job Is My Identity?

I never would have thought of myself as somebody who gets my identity through my job. I can't say career, because I haven't done anything long enough for it to be considered a career. Although I was a damn good sales & marketing assistant at ATS and I'm so sad that had to end. What was I ever thinking!?!?

However, as I am searching and searching for a job, and feeling more and more depressed that I have not gotten one, I think I am starting to realize that my identity does largely come from the job. Because when I had a job, I was supporting my family. Yes, I get unemployment, and support my family with that, but somehow it doesn't seem to count if it is not hard work.

This week, Amaria is off school, and I am spending a lot of time playing with her, her new presents, singing Christmas songs as we both love to do (and I finally found my FAVORITE Christmas song, Friendly Beasts, online) and all kinds of other stuff together - we are just being together. I know this has value. I want it to be a good time. Soon (hopefully) I will be working, and she will be back in school, and the opportunity to just spend time time time will have passed. So I'm trying to tell myself that I am doing something meaningful.

Still, I am feeling like such a loser, and I think it mostly has to do with not having a job. I am 34 years old. What have I accomplished in life? NOTHING! Sure, I have 3 kids, but so far, not doing such a great job raising them, am I? I have a son who hates us all, and who I am much happier with when he is not around me at all. I have a daughter who is a recluse, and does nothing but pick on and degrade everybody in the family, as she closes herself up in this house and never leaves. (Sometimes I don't mind this, because at least she is "safe" not out doing drugs and all that, but I don't think this is the way I wanted to keep her safe). I have a five-year-old daughter who has inherited or absorbed the anger of my son, and who lives in fear when he is here (it is mainly because of her that I am so glad when he just goes). I have done things, but there is no coherent line in my life. I knit, and that is my favorite thing, but it's not like that is a LIFE.

I could probably list accomplishments, even for the past year. But it doesn't seem to matter. Maybe this just all comes from the fact that I have no medical insurance and am totally out of Zoloft. Who knows?

I NEED A JOB! I felt so secure, so part of something, so purposeful when I worked for Ed at ATS. I say for Ed, because when he left is when it began to go downhill. I don't think I would have stayed even if the Clearwire thing hadn't come up. But now what am I going to do with myself? What what what what what?

Sometimes I think that everybody in my life would be better off if I just died. I mean, they'd have to shuffle the kids around, but at least Demetreus could live somewhere else, which he practically does and totally wants to anyway. Lisha would be able to have a parent (probably David & Emma) who she respects and who act like "real" parents (i.e. get her driver's license, etc.). And even though she wouldn't think so now, I'm sure Amaria would be better off. My parents would be WAY better off. They would have to quit worrying about whether I can support myself (which I generally can't) and it would be so much cheaper for them if we all (and our dog) weren't living here with them. Even though I give her as much money as possible, I know we cost them more money than that.

The thing is, I would never commit suicide. At least I'm in really bad health, so maybe I will just die in my sleep one night like Val did. Think about it - my eulogy would be so boring. "She came, she had a bunch of kids she couldn't support or raise right, she knitted, she died". And who would be at my funeral? Nobody but my relatives, and them only because we are related, not because I really make a difference in any of their lives. I know Amaria would be devastated. That is really the only reason I should be alive still. She loves me with all her heart, and I love her with all my heart. I love the other two with all my heart, but they only see the flaws in me. They don't see anything good in me, probably because there isn't much good to see. I can't keep a job, I can't keep health insurance for them (what kind of parent can't keep health insurance for their kid!?!?), I don't seem to have imbued them with any drive for success, or in Lisha's case, drive AT ALL. I am a complete and utter failure as a parent. Amaria just doesn't see it yet because she is little. Maybe I can get my act together and be a good parent for her. Maybe by the time she is old enough to know the difference, I will have and kept a job, and have health insurance for her so she gets to the doctor whenever she needs to go, and maybe I will even be able to afford her gymnastics classes, driver's lessons and license, and be able to drive her and her friends somewhere, and live in a decent enough house that she won't be ashamed to bring friends over.

I wonder if Zeke would miss me if I died? Nah, as long as somebody kept feeding him, he would be fine. Would my parents keep him if I died? I wish I would get some horrible cancer that would just kill me quickly. Then my family would have time to love me, even if they can't say that I did a lot in life, they would love me for a little while. And know that once I was gone, they could have some kind of real life. No, I think it would be better to just die in my sleep. I don't want a bunch of phony sympathy. I mean, I know people would be sad, but not for a REASON, just because they know me and are supposed to, not because I provide any benefit in their life. Name one person who I benefit in a REAL way...maybe Amaria, that's all. I can't even give her her own bed, though. I don't even have room for her. They don't make four bedroom apartments, and I have ruined my credit so bad I'll NEVER be able to get a house, which I could never afford anyway, so basically, I don't have room for all my kids. God, I suck!

Is this self pity? I'm not trying to feel self pity. I'm just trying to take a realistic look at my life. A true balance of positive/negative. All the positive stuff is pretty inconsequential. I knit stuff. I take care of my dog. I love my kids with my heart, if not with my actions. I can't provide them with regular stuff.

Oh, hang it. Please, please, please, God just let me die in my sleep one night. Maybe when Amaria isn't here, because that would kind of mess her up to wake up with a dead mom next to her. Just let it be over for us!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

Sub-Title: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival

This book, though short, packs a heck of a punch! There is so much to consider about the characters, the society, the family. It is a story of an ancient Athabascan (Alaskan native) tribe that is undergoing such hard times that they decide, when moving on for the winter, to leave two old women behind to die. These women have been taken care of by the group, and they repay the group by sewing some stuff. They spend a great majority of their time complaining, even when the children are going hungry.

When they are left alone, they are so sad, angry, betrayed, scared. Luckily, the older of the women, Ch'idzigyaak, has a daughter and grandson who love her, and they leave her with babiche (which has so many uses and without which the women could not have survived) and a hatchet (ditto). This was very brave of the daughter and grandson, as the group could have killed them, abandoned them, and possibly even eaten them (this was suggested...) if they had spoken out against the decision of the group.

It is so motivating the way the women work to keep themselves alive. Although they have been very pampered by the group, in respect for their advanced age (Ch'idzigyaak is 80, Sa' is 75), that they have lost most of the skills to take care of themselves. However, they actually do have the skills, and used them once upon a long time ago. It's like their bodies remember the ways of survival, and although it causes them great pain, they rise to the challenge. They gain a great respect for each other, and for themselves, as they continue to survive despite the great odds. Although they feel that they have lost everything (their family group, trust in other humans, love and respect), they do actually gain something. They gain a self-reliance that, even when rejoined to the group, they choose to retain.

I think that Ch'idzigyaak would have died if she had not been with Sa'. (Specifically Sa' and not some other person or by herself). Sa' was the stronger of the two, the one who had done more wild man-type work in her youth, the more confident of the two. Her strength called Ch'idzigyaak higher each day to perform...rather than wallowing around together, they brought out and encouraged the best in each other.

The two women say that they really did not know each other, which seems surprising since they have been together for years and years. However, it makes sense that when their relationship had been based on basically complaining that they never got deeper into one another's hearts. Once they become closer friends, friends of the heart, they are much happier and more determined to survive. They learn that they can rely on each other, even though they don't feel that they can rely on any other human after what happened.

In the end, when the People find the women, it seems a good luck omen to them. The women had survived so much better than they, and they end up learning so much from the women - especially how wrong it was to leave them in the first place. It was difficult for the women to trust again, but their desire for the company of the group allowed them to overcome their fear, though they never again fully joined. The saddest part was how long Ch'idzigyaak's daughter stayed away, when her presence was the greatest desire of Ch'idzigyaak's heart. When they finally reunited, I cried along with them. The maternal bond can survive so much. Nothing can make a woman stop loving her child, even the most terrible betrayal. Through all her resentment and anger, the sight of her daughter healed everything, and all Ch'idzigyaak really wanted was for her daughter and grandson to be okay and to hold them in her arms.

To me this book is about self-reliance and forgiveness. If these two women can forgive their group for this horrible betrayal, who could I not forgive? Obviously, the story of Christ is the ultimate story of forgiveness, but sometimes it helps to hear a story more related to my life (as a mother, even if the setting is so different). And it is also a good lesson to me about self-reliance and how much people are capable of when they put their minds to it. Even that people can be at their best during the greatest adversity.

I love this book, and would recommend it to anybody, any age.

Scottie's Christmas Present

Scottie's Sweater 3
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
'Twas the night before Christmas
One more present was needed
I knew it was late
But I've never heeded
All the ads imploring buy buy buy
Nope I'm stronger than they
But, oops, that's just why
I was short on time with no money to pay
For some useless type **it
I need something better
Hey, I bet I could knit
A Scottie-sized sweater!
So knit it I did
Took three hours is all
Amaria's a lucky kid
To have a bear so small.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

In the Night Room by Peter Straub

This book was a sequel to "lost boy lost girl" which I absolutely LOVED. This second book was pretty good, definitely gripping and compelling, but I did not love it as much as "lost boy lost girl". I found out a lot more about Tim Underhill who was not the central character of the first book (not at first, anyway). It explained more about the dead people, etc.

It was similar to Stephen King's Dark Tower books in that it brought author and character together. The difference is that Stephen King was the author in his books and his characters were the protagonists, and in this Peter Straub was not present, and the author was the protagonist. I have a feeling, since I know that King and Straub are friends and have collaborated, that they probably discussed this narrative technique and then worked it into separate books and then discussed how it worked out. It reminds me of how Frankenstein came into being...a group of writers discussing how to do a horror novel, and Frankenstein was Shelley's effort. If I had to pick which book worked it out better, I'd say SK but then I'm pretty biased towards him anyway.

I am pretty certain there will be another Tim Underhill book, though, as there were definitely some VERY loose ends at finish of the book. For example, what is the angel's name? I keep trying to figure it out, but no matter where I add the vowels to make some words, the name doesn't make sense. I'm going to look up on the internet to see if somebody has figured it out and posted it. Then also, Lily Kalendar (Huntress) obviously has some serious potential as a new fiend, or heroine, or both. I feel pretty sure that will get dealt with.

In the end, I was glad that Willy turned out to be who she was, to go with Mark, but it really was kind of incestuous that Tim slept with her, not so much in the fact that he created her (then making him the "father figure") but in the fact that she was his nephew's woman. I will look forward to another sequel, though, and if there isn't one, I probably won't go back and re-read these books. There's just not enough time to re-read books that don't really hit me deeply with so many other books to read once, and then great books to read over and over.

Oh, The Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey

This book is a memoir about the child of some very rich people in San Francisco, CA. It was interesting, and also strange to realize that there was a lot I could relate to despite the HUGE differences between the lives we have lived. I did note he is almost my exact same age. One of the most interesting things is that once I was halfway through the book, I went on the internet and looked up all the main characters in it, so I was able to picture them as I read the book. It was funny how they looked so NORMAL, and were really so NUTS! (By this I mainly mean DeDe Wilsey and Pat Montandon, but also how Al Wilsey did not look all cowed by DeDe even though he really was).

At first, I found myself relating to Sean's difficulties as I had been a kind of rebellious kid. I had some problems, though not nearly as severe as his! Then later, as he became an older teenager, I realized I related him to Demetreus and felt more of his parents' frustration and his counselors' frustration with him. The disappointment between knowing what he was capable of and what he actually chose to do with himself. However, they were totally oblivious how much they hurt him. It made me think to act more carefully how I treat Demetreus.

My favorite part in the whole book was when Sean's friend, Spence, told Sean's mom off as they were retrieving the rest of his belongings from her house. It was kind of a validation that she really was as nuts and that it was obvious to people "outside" the family and who really knew what was going on viewed Pat.

It seems that Sean grew up pretty well considering all he went through. It gives me hope for Demetreus. All in all, this is a pretty decent book, but I probably won't read it again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Amaria Christmas 2003 - Autumn Leaves Sweater

Amaria Christmas 2003
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
This is one of the first sweaters I ever knit. You can't tell by looking, but the neck is WAY too tight...but it is really pretty. It is made of Red Heart Misty, which I really loved when I first discovered yarn and knitting. Actually, I still do love! I don't want to become a yarn snob, but I think I will the meantime, isn't this a great sweater? And Amaria already had those pants which matched PERFECTLY!

When the neck no longer fit over Amaria's head (that big ol' brain, you know) I gave the sweater to my co-worker and friend, Alan, for his little girl, who was about 2 years younger and had a much smaller head!

Silly Sisters

Lisha & Amaria 2
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
Amaria's not really mad...she and Lisha were just being silly for the camera.

Lisha doesn't always let me take her picture (don't know why, pretty as she is!), so I was really appreciative that I got to go crazy this morning and take about 15 picture of the girls together.

Silly Sisters

Lisha & Amaria 4
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
Amaria and Lisha having a great time!

Silly Sisters

Lisha & Amaria 3
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
Amaria and Lisha having a great time!

Silly Sisters

Lisha & Amaria 5
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
Amaria and Lisha having a great time!

Amaria & Zoe's Last Playtime

Amaria & Zoe 4
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
This was Zoe's last play-time visit outside. She used to always run away, every chance she got, and bark WAY too much!

This time when Amaria and I took her out, though, she didn't even need a leash, as she could only walk very slowly. She did not bark at all, due to the tumors constricting her voice.

Zoe had a nice time out walking with us, but spent the next 24 hours laying still, not eating or drinking. So it was the last time she was able to run around and play outside. After this, it was only about a week until I had to take her in and end her suffering (leukemia).

We loved Zoe so much!

Her nicknames were:

She was so friendly. She would come up to you wherever you were and waggle her tail (really, her whole back end) and look at you, and if you did not get what she meant and pet her, she would put one paw up on you. "Excuse me, Zoe's here, I need petting and love." Zeke even learned this paw trick from her!

As I choose to adopt older beagles that nobody else really wants, I know I don't get to keep them forever, but I sure do wish that Zoe would have been able to stay with us longer than one year.

Bye, Sweetheart - we love you!

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

Amaria Side View
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heavy to gaudy day denies
One shade the more, one ray the less
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tells of days in goodness spent
A mind at peace with all below
A heart whose love is innocent!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was an interesting book. In some ways, the first half or a bit more reminded me of Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime'. Not that Christopher (Puffin) had autism, but that he reports his memories in such a way that we can see clearly he is confused as to the actual facts. The reader (listener) knows more of what is going on than the character, although not everything, and the book is an opportunity for both the reader and the narrator to find out what is actually going on.

The part that broke my heart the most was when Christopher vented his suspicion that the Leftenant (I don't know how it's spelled in the book as I listened to it in Audible) blames him not only for the mess they are in at the time, not being able to cross into Japanese lines, but for the whole entire war. He has spent his life trying to battle the evil, and when people say certain things to him about cutting the evil off at its heart, he takes it to mean that they believe HE and HE ALONE has this responsibility. I assume that is because he feels responsible for what happened to his parents. He carries the entire world on his shoulders. I think this came from the day he realized that something was wrong, and he ran home to save her, but was too late. He then believed it was entirely his fault, and that his mother would feel the same way. It's very unfortunate that Christopher did not get to meet his mother until it was too late for her to really comprehend, but he was able to finally learn that he was not to be blamed for what had happened to her, and that in her heart, she never for one second blamed him or expected him to save her. She loved him unconditionally and only wanted him to be well, and sacrificed everything to that end.

This feeling of responsibility also provided blessings in his life, specifically Jennifer. He felt a responsibility to correct, and also an understanding of, her situation. The indication at the end of the novel indicates that she attempted suicide shows that this has not had some "happily ever after" ending, yet obviously Jennifer is much better off for having had Christopher as her "uncle".

I don't think the soldier Christopher met was Akira, but his memories of Akira did work in his favor in that he was able to find the house he had been searching for. This led to his understanding that he was wrong about where his parents were, and also led to his finding his Uncle Philip finally. That was the only real way he was going to learn the truth of what happened to his parents. I knew there was never a chance that he would kill his uncle.

I liked this book and think it's a great read. I would probably like to read it again with an understanding of what happens at the end, so I can see the "clues" during the first part of the book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dad's Stories

Okay, not sure why three of this picture uploaded, but the thing is, I want to share a couple of the stories my dad told me yesterday as we were shooting the breeze together.

Dad (Dennis McGinnis) grew up in St Paul, near McCalester College. The stories he was telling me were about his first year going to high school, at Central High.

He was nervous, as he had heard this was a really tough school. So on his first day there, he heard about a big fight going on in the parking lot after school. "Great," he thought, "all the stories are true." So he went outside after school, and what seemed like thousands of kids were swarmed around the parking lot, up in trees for a good view of the fight, and shoving each other for a better view. Dad elbowed his way up front, and discovered that one of the fighters was his older brother, John!

John handed his little brother his suit coat and tie (that is what John always wore to school, while dad, of course, wore plaid shirts). He said, "Here, hold this for me, I have to make this quick because I have to get on the bus and get to work." Ha ha ha ha! And that's just what John did!

Dad remembers that after that day, he didn't really worry about kids picking fights with him or being mean to him, because it was well known that John was his big brother.

He also told me about the principal of the school giving him grief because he was always late. He had to go to the office to get a pass to class when he was late, and after a few times, the principal said, "You are going to be a thorn in my side until the day you graduate, aren't you?" He was good-natured about it, because Dad was a GREAT kid, just had a hard time getting to school on time. (apparently he had to hitch a ride, and John always beat him into the bathroom, so he was always scrambling for a ride after John had already gone) So when his graduation rehearsal came four years later, Dad was late! As they called his name and he wasn't there, the principal looked around and saw him entering the auditorium. As Dad went up to receive whatever he was receiving for rehearsal, the principal said, "Until the last minute, just as I thought!"

Then there was the time when Dad was walking down the alley with his big brother, Mike, and Mike was smoking a cigarette. A car was coming, and Dad said, "Hey, we better get out of the way, there's a car coming." Mike responded defiantly, "They can just wait," in his toughest tough-guy voice. Then they looked back, and it was their mom! Busted!

I love listening to my dad's funny childhood stories. It can be hard, as he takes a very long time to tell them (think Heathcliff Huxtable times ten), but I always find that it is worth it.

I was also kind of sad, because John now has cancer, and that must really break Dad's heart to see his big, tough, protector brother being beaten down like that.

1776 by David McCullough

Wow! What more can be said about this book? (As you will see following, plenty, I'm sure)

I tend to read fiction. Although I love historical fiction, because it is a way to discover what happened in history in a personally meaningful way (as opposed to strategies and dates and movements and battles), I am not a big fan of straight factual history. So I was a little worried as I went to read (listen to) this book. I didn't fully believe the accounts that Mr. McCullough wrote in such a way that it was interesting, understandable, and engaging. But it really was!

The details McCullough chose to relate have a large part to do with that. He was not sentimental at all, but some of his details brought about strong feeling, more so than if he had written sentimentally, I believe. For example, there was a description of how Washington disdained the Yankee soldiers because they were filthy. Then there was the description of a corpse so crawling with lice that the viewers believed the lice themselves could have been the cause of his death! Euuw! But that really paints a picture, doesn't it?

One of the most surprising things was how McCullough made me care for the "characters" as in a book of fiction. My 16-year-old daughter thought I was nuts when I was cheering as I listened to the part of the book that described Nathaniel Greene's return to battle after his illness. Washington was so glad to have his most trusted advisor back, and I was happy, too!

For most of the book, I could not believe we were not still under British rule. Apparently, that first year of the Revolutionary War was VERY difficult and full of loss. I realized that although I had learned of the war in history classes, I had more of a "one if by land, two if by sea; the british are coming; give me liberty or give me death" knowledge, rather than anything realistic (to me). I have also been "cut off" from appreciating the Revolutionary War by my conflicting feelings about the men who fought this big war for freedom, and who were slave owners. In a very real way, that hypocrisy blocked me from feeling for the men, or proud of them.

Finally, on hearing this book, my age and maturity are such that I can appreciate and empathize with the experiences of the soldiers. We are currently in a "war" and it is SO different! First, strategies are totally alien to modern-day tactics. I have read Machiavelli and those tactics totally fit for the Revoluationary War, but today, not at all. Back then, it took days for information to pass on what the enemy troops were doing. It took weeks for the British Prime Minister to hear what was going on. General Washington was often misinformed as to the movements of the British and Hessian troops. Today, satellites and computers make it impossible to imagine fighting or planning "in the dark" as our forebears had to do. It is unimaginable to suffer in this way in modern times.

Also, the people of the country and the soldiers themselves sacrificed in ways we cannot imagine now. The soldiers in Iraq, although undoubtedly brave and strong, could not comprehend the difficulties the Continental Army suffered. For one thing, they did not even have CLOTHES! They lacked shoes and wore rags on their feet. In one town, the trail of blood showed the path trodden by the soldiers, as they were without shoes or boots. Some had clothing so tattered and filthy that it barely counted as clothing at all. They were not able to communicate with their families immediately (via e-mail or other satellite uplinks) as today's soldiers can. In the battle fought against the Hessians at Trenton, only two American deaths were suffered...neither of injuries in fighting, but they froze to death. Froze to death! Who could imagine such a thing happening now?

This is not to discount what soldiers today go through...only to point out the differences that technological progress has made. For example, while no soldiers freeze to death, as we have heated vehicles, there are soldiers from Vietnam who have died and suffered greatly from chemicals such as Agent Orange. And of course, a huge percentage of the nation of Japan was bombed to oblivion. So there is bravery and suffering in all ages.

I was also impressed by the way women were involved in the war. Letters home from soldiers and officers demonstrated how they considered their wives partners and equals. They did not SAY as much, but they told them of strategies and happenings and plans not in condescending ways, but as trusted and intelligent confidantes. And the British soldiers actually brought their women and children to America with them, and brought them along the field of battle (not the actual fighting, but near). I guess that was possible when one mile could make the difference between being in the battle and being mostly unaffected.

Also, for the first time, I learned of the failings of General Washington. He made errors in judgment, he failed utterly and completely, he suffered the betrayal and mistrust of his closest friends, and he faced great scorn at times. One thing I had remembered from history classes was his crossing of the Deleware on Christmas night, which led to the turnaround of the war. This is when Washington earned his reputation. So I am even more in awe of him as a hero because of his earlier failings. Many people fail. Many people make bad decisions. General Washington did not give in to self pity or whatever emotional suffering he may have undergone. Instead, he learned from his mistakes and he became a decisive, forgiving, determined leader. And history has shown that some of his original instincts (his picking of Greene and Knox, who stayed in the war with him until the end in 1783) were correct. So his qualities were made all the more impressive because of the hard work he went through to mature and grow in them.

I believe this book should be required reading for high school students. However, I am not fully convinced these students would have the same appreciation I do. Not that students are not intelligent...obviously many are! However, I think there is a certain amount of life experience required to actually understand things on a meaningful level. For example, if Lisha read this book, she would certainly not agree with me how moving and inspirational it is. Still...such a realistic portrait of both hardships and victories, mistakes and glory, that is how history should be taught. I know that I now am able to put aside my opinion of all of these men, including Washington, as hypocrites who were only out for themselves and their riches and power. I am able to appreciate the hardship with which our freedom was won. Obviously, the nation was not born perfect, but it was born and look how far we have come in such a short time! Obviously, we are still FAR from perfect (need a woman president or two, and a black president or two, and a WHOLE LOT LESS capitalism at the center of our entire society...and SO many other things), yet look how lucky we are in so many ways.

I recall my response to 911 being not "I'm proud to be an American" but "I'm grateful to be an American". I'm grateful for those men and women who fought and suffered so that I could be an American. And I'm grateful to David McCullough for writing this book in such a way that I could realize this gratitude in a whole new and deeper way.

Uncle Dan Huntziger

Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
It's time to pray for Uncle Dan as never before. A week ago, he suffered from another heart attack. He has already had bypass surgeries and they have put stints in his heart. I believe that he is okay, but his family history is full of people who die early from heart disease, so I just want to make note that I will be praying for him, as will the McGinnis and Huntziger families.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Amy Beat Meech at Arm Wrestling

Here's another favorite from the 2005 Peltier Christmas Party at Floyd & Helen's. My son Demetreus thinks he is SOOO tough, so he arm-wrestled cousin Amy and she BEAT HIM! (Jeannie watching on)

I think (hope) he was at least a little humbled. He thinks he's so tough because he can beat me at arm wrestling...never mind the fact that I have arthritis.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Red Speckle Sweater

Red Speckle 1
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
I made this sweater awhile ago, but just finished the sleeves this weekend...don't ask me why!

I made this sweater using Lion Brand Wool Ease, my favorite yarn to knit with. (Except for maybe Knit Picks' Andean Silk...hmmmm, or baby alpaca...okay I like this yarn.)

Is Amaria the biggest ham showing off her sweaters or what? The heartbreaking thing is she is so easily made warm that she rarely gets the chance to wear all the sweaters I make for her. And my other daughter, who is always cold, won't let me make her a sweater because she won't wear handmade things. Hmmm...

You can't see, but there are little hearts on the top center of this sweater made in a seed stitch pattern. I think they don't show up because I used the flash to take this picture. Maybe later I will add another picture with the flash off during the day time so they will show up.

Conal's 2005 Christmas Sweater

Conal's 3
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
I made this sweater for my nephew who lives in California. I was heart broken when he first moved there because I thought I could no longer knit for him, but luckily Emma said he still needs sweaters to wear in the morning because it gets chilly! As I am not a fan of (making) cardigans, I made this pullover with a large neck (partly to make it easier to get off of Conal in the morning and partly because, admit it, the boy has a LARGE head). I hope he likes it! I hope Emma or David do not look through my pix before Christmas!

I will definitely put a picture of Conal in the sweater after he gets it for Christmas.

I used a pattern for this, and I like the way the collar was worked. I picked up a bunch of the middle stitches, then went back and forth, picking up another 3 on each side, so that is how it gets to folding over like that. I also learned you can pick up stitches going the "wrong" way on the right side without much trouble. I had never done that before.

Aunt Janet's Lap Blanket 1

Aunt Janet's Lap Blanket 1
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
I love and adore my Aunt Janet SO MUCH! She has always been there for me and very understanding of me, as she was a single mom back at a time when being a single mom was NOT accepted as much as it is today, but she knows it's tough. She has always loved my kids and loved me unconditionally, even in my super-brat teenage years. So I was very happy to make this blanket for her, and I thought about how much I love her and I prayed for her as I made it, so I think that is what knitting is really all about. I hope she will like it!

I am not used to making blankets, and I'm not sure this is big enough, but then again, I made it to be a "lap blanket" and Aunt Janet is all of 4'10" tall, so I think it will be big enough.

I used Red Heart acrylic (super saver or some such thing) and I can see why people get to be fiber snobs...I don't like the way it felt to knit with that yarn, it actually feels like I got little blisters or something on my fingers. That could be because I have knit the blanket for about 6 hours a day for the past couple of days, but still...I won't be using that yarn again, even if it is very affordable. When I want cheap, I will go with Lion Brand Wool Ease, which is very affordable, and just feels much better.

Reversible Errors by Scott Turrow

I have decided that I will also write about the books I read on my blog, because it's my blog and I can do that! Well, more than half of the books I "read" are actually listened to using

So I just got done listening to Reversible Errors, and I really enjoyed the story. The ending was somewhat predictable, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an enjoyable journey. I liked the characters and appreciated Turrow's ability to create well-rounded characters. None of the characters were all-good or all-bad. The only possible exception was - as wonderful a man as Arthur was, why did he always bomb with women?

Larry's battle with his total love (obsession?) for Muriel, yet dedication and love for his sons and his wife were very realistic. Also his wife's staying with him even after he didn't treat her that well, mainly because she had adopted his sons and could not bear to leave them, was realistic and that's the way people really do act.

Of all the characters, Muriel is the one I liked the least, just because she was the most motivated by self-interest regardless of who was hurt. But she was not a clear villain, either, as she did give info to Arthur that she could just as easily have hidden. But it was so cruel to out Gillian's herion addiction so that hers and Larry's mistakes would be covered up and she would win her bid as PA. And Larry was more willing to keep things secret, but yet he kept on chasing after the truth. I just like the way it all turned out, except that I hope Muriel follows the path towards honest human being that she has begun on. And of course, I'm glad things worked out between Arthur and Gillian, and even Susan!

I am now reading (listening to) 1776 by David McCullough and will write about that when I am done.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Amaria's Favorite

Turquoise Wool 1
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
I don't know why, because it's pretty plain, but this happens to be Amaria's favorite of all the sweaters I have made her.

It is made using 100% wool yarn by Knit Picks. I designed it myself (well, can you call it designing if you just knit it as you go? I didn't pre-plan really, just knit it until it was the right size...does this make sense?) She just loves it!

Vikings Sweater

Vikings 1
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
When I saw this slip-stitch pattern in one of my many pattern books, I knew I would have to turn it into a Vikings sweater for Amaria. Then my mom made pants to go with it (I'll have to get a pic of her in the matching outfit and put that on the site, eh?)

And believe it or not, I even had her wear it to school during the first half of our season this year (the before-Dante-got-injured period where we lost basically every game?). Now, though, she can wear it with pride as we continue to win and win and win (love that Brad Johnson!)

Amaria loves the sweater but it is starting to get a little small on her (short...she insists on growing and growing and growing!!) so I guess we will be giving it over to Baby John (who is about 2 by now) pretty soon. Leah and Gene are the biggest Vikings fans in our family, I think, so their boy can have the Vikings sweater. Fair?

Amaria & Zeke

Amaria & Zeke
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
I ADORE this picture!

First, I love my dog, Zeke. He is a beagle mutt - I got him from the pound about 3 years ago and when I adopted him they said he was 10 years old. I don't know if I believe that, because that would make him 13 now, and he is so healthy and spry at times that I can't possibly believe he is that old. I love this picture of him.

Then I love this sweater that I made for my beautiful daughter, Amaria. I made this with Lion Brand Home Spun.

Finally, I love the little daisy-like flower by Amaria's shorts. I don't know why, but I just love that part of the picture.

And the Back...

Fall Andean Silk 1
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
This is the back of the Andean Silk sweater. Nice match with the shorts, eh?

The Front...

Fall Andean Silk 4
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
This is my other favorite sweater I have made for Amaria. I designed it myself based on a sweatshirt (not sweater) that I think I saw on Ross on an episode of Friends, but I can't remember just when or what. It was different colors, though.

This was made of Andean Silk by Knit Picks which is mostly Baby Alpaca with a little silk mixed in. I do have to handwash it, but I don't mind because it is so pretty.

My Favorite Sweater Ever!

Pink Blush Cable 2
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
This is my masterpiece, so far. I was so honored when my mom told me that my aunt JoAnn said at the Christmas Party, "Now, Jennifer didn't knit THAT sweater, right?" as though that was OBVIOUS. But I did! I really did!

I love doing cables, believe it or not. I know each person who knits has their thing, and mine is cables. I would much rather do these intricate cables than color work or anything.

I made this with Lion Brand Wool Ease (20% wool, 80% acrylic) so that I would be able to wash it like normal, and yet it feels kind of wooly and the cables stand out well.

Lisha and Phyllis

Lisha and Phyllis
Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
This is my favorite photo from the 2004 Peltier Family Christmas Party. It is so rare to see Lisha laughing and talking with the relatives, and Phyllis was obviously pleased that she got a laugh out of Lisha! My daughter is so beautiful I can barely stand it, and I adore my Aunt Phyllis, also. That is why this is my favorite photo of the 2004 Peltier Family Christmas Party.

Martin & Barbie

Originally uploaded by knittinjen.
Each year at the Peltier Family Christmas Party, I have a favorite picture. This is the one for 2005. (Possibly that is partly because of the gorgeous hand-knit sweater Martin is wearing?) The quality is not the best, because of the sun shining on my gorgeous cousins, but I just love the joy in both of their faces. I am always so happy to see Barb considering her ordeal (beat cancer, yippee!) and it was SO FABULOUS to see Martin, who was one of my favorite cousins as a kid. I hadn't seen him in such a long time, so it was just great to see him this year. Those are the reasons this is my favorite 2005 Peltier Christmas Party photo.

First Entry

This will be my first blog entry. Since it is a knitting blog, I am currently working on knitting a blanket (just a small one) for my Aunt Janet for Christmas. She is very special to me, so I hope she will like the blanket. I'll post pix later.

I just finished knitting a sweater for my nephew Conal for Christmas. He just moved to California, so I was all sad that I won't be able to knit for him again, but luckily his mom said he still needs something to wear on chilly mornings. Yay! Since he has every toy ever made or imagined, I wouldn't know what else to give him for Christmas if I couldn't knit for him. I will put pictures in soon of the sweater.