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It has been brought to my attention, by more than a few readers, that my blog has been silent.  I apologize for the lapse.  I could regale you with tales of our adventures over the last few moths, but I think it would be better if we pretended I’ve been in training for the Olympics and move on.  So…

Let the games begin!

Despite the best efforts of the USOC, I will be knitting in the event formerly known as Ravelympics.  Taking a note from Nike, I am looking for my greatness in the form of a steeked sweater.

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This is my first attempt at steeking, the act of taking a pair of scissors to a physical representation of hours upon hours of one’s time in the hopes the yarn holds and you magically end up with a sweater.  I’ve already begun stocking up on wine as I knit away.

Little Clover has also been striving to find his greatness.  He’s looking for his, not in yarn, but in something much, much harder – ice.

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He began hockey earlier this year, and not only does he really enjoy it, but it’s something he can see himself doing for a few years.  Being a bit behind the eight ball compared to other kids his age who have had years on the ice by know, he decided to attend a couple of hockey camps.  I love watching his determination and grit while on the ice.  He’s a joy to watch and he continues to amaze me with each feat he tackles.

Granted, the Olympics doesn’t include any knitting or hockey this go round, but that hasn’t stopped our little home from setting our own personal challenges and striving to prove to ourselves that, yes, we can succeed.

Carry on.

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Missing

I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed it terribly. Looking at my last post, it’s hard to imagine what could have kept me from writing for over a month. Occasionally, our lives hit a certain level of activity, and we as a family enter into survival mode. Imagine mountains of laundry needing to be washed or folded, dinners pulled from pre-packaged freezer containers instead of cooked each night, food brought in from restaurants, piles of mail waiting to be sorted, etc. February, even with the extra day this year, carried the same level of commitments and actions, but with fewer days.

Little Clover had a basketball season to finish out with games twice a week and practices three times a week. He also competed as a Mathlete at the Regional Math Counts competition. If that wasn’t enough, we added in hockey lessons, and he still manages to keep his grades up.

Italian decided he wanted to up his physical activity, so he started P90X and somehow convinced me to do it with him. I’m still trying to figure out what mystical powers he used because I don’t like to sweat. We are now in Phase 2 of P90X, having completed 5 weeks. I don’t hate sweating as much as I used to, and I’ve picked out my reward bikini. Yes, I’m going to wear a bikini, and by golly, I’m going to a beach this year.

So what have I missed in my life? I’ve missed writing on the blog. There have been many things I’ve wanted to post and share but sleep and laundry have really gotten in the way.

I’ve missed cooking and the farmers market and fresh vegetables. I’ve missed thinking about food and reading cookbooks and looking at recipes. I’ve missed browsing the produce aisle at the grocery store and spending time in the kitchen. We still eat, but I miss tasting food I’ve prepared at home.

I’ve missed photography. This amazed me. I’ve always known I enjoyed taking pictures, but I didn’t realize how much I miss taking pictures, organizing my pictures, and looking back on our photo albums. In the midst of activity, I managed to snap one photo of a finished object, still waiting to be blocked.

LadyCircularShawlFO
Lady’s Circular Shawl

Now that I know what I miss, the challenge will be fitting it all back in and finding time to play a bit more. We don’t really need clean clothes do we?

Accomplishments

Italian has been fishing the same stretch of river in the Arkansas Ozarks since high school. He introduced me to it in college and I loved the river so much, I married him. Naturally, we didn’t think twice about taking Little Clover there, in utero and post. The river has been a part of Little Clover’s entire life. Therefore, his accomplishment last weekend shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is still amazing. He achieved a Norfork Grand Slam – twice. On each of the two days we spent on the river this weekend, he caught a rainbow trout, a cutthroat, a brown trout, and the elusive brook trout. Many an angler has attempted this feat and failed. My little guy not only did it once, but repeated it the second day! He also caught the fifth species of trout, the cut-bow, as well, just for good measure. He caught them all on his own, with his own fly rod, with the fly he tied. I swear, he continues to amaze me.

The elusive Norfork brookie

One note regarding the brook trout: After catching the brook to solidify the grand slam, Little Clover, in his excitement, exclaimed, “All right! Let’s go get a grown-up brookie!” To which Italian laughed and replied, “There’s aren’t any grown-up brookies.” Part of the brook’s elusiveness is due to it’s small size and juvenile stage. They are often gobbled up by the more aggressive browns before they can make it to a significant size.

My accomplishment on the river was much less impressive. I managed to hike down river a little less than a quarter of a mile, then back up the river on the opposite bank a bit, to retrieve my fly box which had decided to go for a bit of swim down a fast paced riffle. I now join a long (very, very long) list of fly fishers who have chased a floating box downstream. Even though it was a lovely hike, I hope I never have to repeat it. I did still have a great weekend on the river, catching my own variety of trout specimens. I came up a couple of species shy of a Grand Slam, but I had fun nonetheless.

My knitting and organizational attempts have been a bit more successful. I’ve managed to organize my desk, transfer everything to the new Mac, organize Little Clover’s art box, and declutter my bookshelf. The office still holds much more for me to do, but I’m making progress in cleaning out my life. The knitting is also coming along and the knitting Fates smile upon me, I might just have a finished shawl by the end of this month. Even if I don’t, I’m making excellent progress in knitting down my stash.

Generations

Little Clover and his Great Grandmother

Little Clover and his Great Grandmother

Christmas, for us, usually ends the weekend after New Year’s Eve when we finally have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with my family in Nashville. One of the highlights is to to spend time with my Grandma, and to see Little Clover with her. She is not just my grandma, but an incredibly vibrant remarkable woman with a sparkling gleam in her eye and a spry hop to her step. Her Christmas card in the mail still makes me smile and I’m tickled that Little Clover has been able to have her in his life for as long as he has.

Grandma came with us to visit my mom’s grave and we visited the others who have passed through our lives. Honestly, my Grandma brings life to the cemetery with her stories, almost always humorous. Her stories continued when Italian and I dropped her off at home. She invited us in, and we jumped at the opportunity. We followed her into the study where she pulled out a few old albums filled with pictures and accounts from the 1800s. For the first time, I saw pictures of her parents as well as her great grandfather. We read wills from 1828, where a bed, furniture, and a cow and calf were left to the heirs. Finally, after over two hour, Little Clover called to check on us. He then reprimanded us for staying out to late and we had to bid my Grandma good night. As a parting gift, she lent me the photo albums. I think my new laptop has found it’s special purpose in life.

Where I am an idiot

In spite of what I may have put on my Apple customer survey, I am an idiot. For the last few years, adding photos to a blog post worked best if I followed a series of steps:
1. Take picture
2. Find camera transfer cable
3. Attach camera to laptop via transfer cable
4. Transfer photos
5. Upload photo to an Picasa Web
6. Add photo to blog

That’s a lot of steps, but they didn’t feel like a lot of steps for a long time. Today, they seem like way too many steps because I realized with my new blog, I can just upload the photos straight from my laptop, and since my laptop can read my photo memory card, I don’t have to hunt for my cable any more. Zip! My photo can just appear on the blog! Trust me when I say I’m an idiot because it took me this long to figure it out. To celebrate my sudden realization of my idiocy, here is a gratuitously cute picture of children.

Gratuitously cute children

Little Clover and the Princess spent some quality time together during our Christmas break. The Princess is modeling the Whirligig I knit for her. Being afraid it might be too small, I forced it on her and Little Clover made her smile while we took the photo.

And just because I can, here’s another picture:

Full Irish Breakfast


We had to modify our New Year’s tradition this year, so instead of heading to the river on New Year’s Eve and cooking a big meal at midnight to ring in the year, we stayed home and cooked a big breakfast instead, a full Irish. Well, it is sorta a full Irish. We couldn’t find blood sausage, so we just had bangers, Canadian bacon, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, baked beans, and sautéed mushrooms. Honestly, it was an excellent first meal, and possibly a new tradition.

And finally a new blog post. Really, this year, I’d like to crank out a few more post than last year. I’m hoping the new laptop, which actually reads my photo card, will help. The laptop is a bit like a beacon, calling to me from my desk, “Hello! I’m pretty, type on me.” Really, it says that. Italian was super sweet when he gave it to me. He smiled and comment that since I was probably going to get one anyway this year, he might as well get credit for it; and he’s right.

I’ll also have a bit more time to write this week since I’m confined to the sofa. It seems I’m not able to land a triple axle, nor can I perform a simple little spin on skates. The three of us received ice skates for Christmas and have been spending multiple days at the new rink in town.

Ice skating by Irish Clover
Ice skating, a photo by Irish Clover on Flickr.

Little Clover handles himself much better on the ice. He at least falls with grace — and without injury. One day, I strive to be like that. On the other hand, my knitting and I have become better acquainted. With my foot propped up and Italian insistent I remain immobile, I had plenty of time to finish Italian’s mitts and start a new project. Oh, how I hope to walk and drive again soon.

Prepared

While the midwest is being slammed with snow, our temperatures are still in the 60s. The above freezing temperatures haven’t deterred us and we are determined to be prepared when the snow comes. The rain may be falling outside, but we have a sled! Italian hasn’t completely bought into the idea we need a sled. Little Clover and I are still resolutely doing our best to show the usefulness of a sled especially since we may only get one snow a season. Our sled is a beautiful blue saucer type and it makes a handy laundry carrier, balancing seat when watching movies, Lego holder and sorter while building, an excellent training tool for working on your posture, and finally, it is a magnificent shield. Italian is weakening to the wonder that is a blue saucer style sled.

The mitts he’s getting for Christmas are helping him get into the winter spirit. It’s difficult to turn away from the powers of a pair of hand knit fingerless mitts. Because I want these to be just right, they aren’t a surprise and he’s trying them on as they grow. He loves the sheen and the softness and has been asking about the fiber content. I’ve refused to tell him because I want him to use them for fishing and feared he wouldn’t if he knew they are a cashmere blend. The softness and warmth of the mitts might be too much for him to resist. I think he’s going to wear them no matter what they are made of.