Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Big brother

Yes, I finished it.

Really? He gets a sweater, and then she swings him and takes loads of pictures of him? When is it my turn?

Boys are so easy to please.

All you need are two brothers and a tire swing.

I also finished  "A Canticle for Leibowitz."  I ended up crying through the last couple of chapters - I do not want to give anything away, but the ending was very emotional (and then became very weird.  But not too weird.)

And let it just be on the record that I did not like the part about Abbot Zerchi's cat.

Walter M Miller Jr. does not shy away from difficult questions such as euthanasia, or the tension between science and religion in general.  I homeschool, and one is confronted with the question of religion in science every time you choose a textbook.  I cannot remember that being the case in South Africa, not when I was at school, neither at college level, nor when my daughter started school there.  But it is the case here in America.

"The esoteric gulf between Christian monk and secular investigator of Nature would surely be narrowed by a free exchange of ideas, he felt...  More communication, not less, was probably the best therapy for easing any tension."
 -chapter 19

I am still reading Understanding Exposure.  The photos on the swing was taken in snapshot mode on my camera, and color corrected and sharpened in Photoshop.  The one below was taken in manual, with manual focus:

1/100s at f/5.6, ISO 100, 22mm

It does make a difference to just turn the dial to M, but I could never capture them on the swing with the camera in manual mode.  I cannot praise this book enough, I have gone back to some of the other photography books I have been reading, and now they are starting to make sense.  Brian Peterson has a way of explaining it so that I can follow, teaching me the language so that I can understand the other sources.

I am now also listening to Simplicity Parenting on my iPod.  It is very soothing to be able to listen to Kim John Payne while you declutter.  (Or perhaps I should say, it is very stressful to read about decluttering while you should be decluttering!)

I am excited about Wednesdays; I love seeing the different projects and books.  I will soon cast on a white cardigan for Melva, and the twins need new vests...  Happy yarn along Wednesday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Some progress

Now would you look at that!  I managed to put the button onto my blog, thanks to Lori's advice to Emma in the French Alps.  I really like these people who yarn along.  Not that I really know them, I know.  But still, I have reason to believe they are pretty neat in real life too.

Now, about the henley... No, not done yet.  But I have something to show:

The first sleeve is done!  I actually like it.  Coming home from watching "The Secret World of Arrietty", I felt inspired to make something pretty, and it felt very good to sit down and work out the color patterns for this sleeve.

I am still reading A Canticle for Leibowitz and enjoying it.  The problem is, I do too many things at once, and therefore I do not finish enough of them.  I am also reading  "Free Range Kids" -  I feel vindicated while I read it.  But it is a bit like politics and church denominations: I think if you agree you agree, if you do not, nothing will convince you.

That is all for tonight, I am late with my yarn along post as it is and the grandmothers are both coming to visit in 20 days!  Which means I have to go to bed right now so that I will be fresh tomorrow, to start the cleaning.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pajama pants and pets

I  originally intended to post on a Saturday about the weekly finished project, but now I think Sunday nights are perfect for that.  Sunday nights are really perfect for phoning your mother or sister, but if it is 9 pm here, it is 5 am there... and I don't think anyone wants to start their week with a phone call at 5 am.  No matter how much they love me.

This week I made Melva pajama pants.  It is not the best picture to demonstrate my sewing expertise, I know. But you get the idea - knee length flannel shorts, made using this pattern.  I loved the print, and it was on sale for $2.50/yard at JoAnn's.  Not that I am frugal or pinching pennies or anything like that.

(I also convinced her to cut her hair a bit shorter, a project in itself, and we are both very happy with the result.)

That is such a typical facial expression for our cat.  He is actually a big softie, and despite his apparent dismay at being touched he loves the children and regularly sleeps in their beds. I love him.  If he has water but wants milk, he will attack anyone who passes his bowl from under the kitchen table.  He scratches the door, pretending that he needs to go out but when you get up he runs to his food bowl and looks starved. And he is just a domestic tabby, but he is beautiful.  His name is Patrys (Afrikaans for partridge, named so that the twins can practice rolling their r's), but we all call him Cleo, because a small part of us cannot seem to remember that she stayed home with family when we moved here...

Have a lovely week, friends (and family.  Okay, so maybe only my family will actually read this. In that case, why am I speaking English?  And why are we whispering??)  Oh, and the stripey sleeved henley is almost done, cannot wait to show you on Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The grey henley was coming along nicely.  Then I saw something that derailed my plans a bit:


This sleeve on the arm of a friend at the Angel Choir practice, last Monday morning, was just so pretty that I could not resist.  The stripes are from the elbow until about halfway down the forearm.

Thus, I went online...

And bought some pretty colors.

It will be enough to make at least three sweaters with stripey sleeves.  Her sweater had red trim at the bottom edge, as well as around the edges of the sleeves and at the neckband.  I used the bright turquoise that I originally bought to make Pocoyo hats for the boys, but we won't be needing those this year.


And then I also bought myself these teeny little 12 inch circular needles. I feel very silly knitting with them, you almost have to hold them between thumb and forefinger, and I am not sure they save me any time.  I actually like knitting with double points, and if I do not get used to these soon I think I will go back to them.


As I am still slugging through A Canticle for Leibowitz, I thought I should document some of the books that my fifth grader has been reading this year. (Many are only e-books, so I could not capture all of them.) These were for "school", she can choose anything she likes to read over week-ends or when her book for the week is done.

The books on the left are those that she has to read before the end of the school year.  She loves reading and reads very fast, with incredible recall, so we decided that this year we will simply let her read as much as possible, keeping book reports simple and focusing on exposure to literature rather than on reporting and analysis. 

And this was just this morning, under the old oak tree.

I am linking to Ginny's yarn along, soon I will figure out how to add that button...

Saturday, February 11, 2012


The first full blown birthday party in America! Well, not the first, but the first for us.  I was off to a good start, and I really thought that I would not have to stay up till 3am to finish the cake this time, but I was wrong. 

The garland, in the big old oak tree.

I changed my mind midstream, since the little cars were too hard to decorate.  So I stayed up, again, to bake and decorate the new cake.  I love it.  Jean loved it too, but he is already planning next year's dinosaur party.  It is becoming easier and easier to decorate, this cake took only about an hour, and if I had the icing ready made it would have been a lot faster.

The table under the big old oak tree.  Those are fabric napkins that I cut, and zigzagged.

Three years ago, we asked almost complete strangers to come and celebrate with us.  Those strangers have become dear, close friends.  Then we had only 6 guests, this time there were roughly 16 children and 8 adults. 

The birthday boy.

The kids played several racing games and devoured the cake in under 10 minutes.  I prepared chili the night before, we baked a corn bread (I was not really involved, my guests did) while the children played, and we all had an early dinner together.  It was great.

I miss being home, and I miss the people we shared birthdays with very deeply, but somehow that stands apart from the life we live every day.  I cannot wait to spend time with them again, and I know that we will.  The grandmothers will both be here for Melva's birthday!  And if we manage to save enough, we will visit in December.

But today was perfect.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Birthday preparations

My little boy is 8 today.   Happy birthday Jean!

In other news, we are slightly overextended...

The last weekend was spent visiting till 3am every night with friends who we saw a very long time ago, and will, in all likelihood, not see again for a couple of years.  Good friends remain friends, and we loved picking up where we left off.  It left me wiped out, and I could not think about writing.  But I did keep on sewing:  66 flags onto 22 yards of handmade bias binding.  The garlands are beautiful, I will use them in the rooms once the party is over.

The cakes turned out pretty amazing too!  I am almost afraid to decorate them, they are so pretty.  I am planning a big racetrack with at least 24 car shaped cakes. Ten down, fourteen to go - but the party is only Saturday afternoon, so I am actually ahead of schedule.

Even though the picture of the garland is a bit iffy, it counts as last Saturday's "project".  Just for those who are counting.