Saturday, September 29, 2007

You can winterize anything

Yes, I know it is almost winter.
Yes, I realize that up here we get snow and it stays, not like in Virginia where it snows a bit, people freak out and then they delay work (and if it's really bad OPM shuts down the government; speaking of which, you want to know who is really running the government -- it's the Office of Personnel Management).
Anyway, my mother and aunt gave me a bit of cash for my birthday. Not a lot, mind you. Remember they come from poor farmer stock and they grew up during the Depression so they can be rather frugal. I call it cheap but...whatever.
So I've been holding onto that money for several weeks. That I haven't spent it is a feat all in its own right - I'll pause so you can recognize this.
Okay, I've been trying to figure out what I really want to get for myself. I already got my lovely Jordana Paige bag which is still holding the tragedy formerly known as my sad attempt to make a sock. I thought about putting the money towards an electric ballwinder but then I also really wanted to put it towards a new bike. I have a bike already; her name is Sister Agnes. She is a dirty old girl, formerly owned by a nun (really!) and my cousin gave her to me. Sister Agnes is old but durable, no bells or whistles and I ride her everyday.
But today I took DH down to the bike shop in town to go see what they had. I had already considered settling for a white bike they had in stock and calling her Martine. I'm not real crazy about white cars or bikes -- after three years of living in Okinawa where all they really have are white cars, I definitely shy away from that color. And of course as with any vehicle color is the most important thing -- and for me so is the name!
Martine is not to be, for when we walked in the door this is what we saw:

Isn't she beautiful!
That was it - I was in love.
I took her for a test spin but I knew I was going to purchase her before I even climbed on the comfy seat (wide enough to hold my fat butt!).
Now she is sitting in the shop being held for me on layaway -- I have 2 months to finish paying off the balance and then I can bring her home and name her.
Just in time for winter.
But hey, up here you can winterize anything.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Cost of Children's Sports

Well DN2 is (almost) officially on the swim team here.
She's 8, so it's not the high school swim team but the local rec league.
They have them tryout twice to see if they will be able to keep up (it's not a learn to swim program, as they like to say, and it can get pretty boring swimming laps for an hour and a half three nights a week).
You'd think it would be pretty inexpensive; after all, what do you need but a suit, some goggles and a cap on your head.
Unfortunately her practice suits cost upwards of $45 each.
And besides the practice suits she'll need 2 team suits which will equal $100.
Plus swim caps with the team name on it and then probably more goggles.
We as a country complain about childhood obesity but then the cost of playing sports -- for both the equipment and the team cost -- is so high!
I spoke with a guy at work and his two children play tri-county hockey - cost for him for both children is $1200 for the season. And that's just for them to play, not for the skates, their stick, and other equipment.
SN2 plays on a travel soccer team - we paid $200 to the league and then we pay another $200 to the team. Plus the $120 pair of boots - for outdoor - then you have the shoes for indoor too.
It's a wonder there's obesity in our country - we sure push the wrong sorts of food via the television and then we charge enormous amounts for sports clothing and sports teams!
And the other problem is this rule about cutting kids from teams.
You want to encourage kids to get fit -- keep anyone who tries out.
I'm a slow learner. Through the years I've come to realize this. What some kids were doing athletically it took me to high school to figure out how to do. Cartwheels? Couldn't master that until middle school (although if necessary I can still do one today - but it's probably not a pretty sight).
But we cut kids off teams before they even have a chance to learn and now that our school district has decreased the days in PE to one day a week - when will kids ever be exposed to sports?
Not only that but we build more suburbs without parks and play areas -- if they can't even put crosswalks down what makes you think they'll put in a place for kids to run around and play games? We are a nation intent on driving ourselves from store to store.
Which was one of the primary reasons I moved to my town: we walk or ride bikes to where we need to go and we can because we have sidewalks.
Our kids are fat because we Americans don't walk anymore -- unless it's a town intentionally being built with sidewalks no new communities allow their residents to walk (again, no sidewalks and no crosswalks).
This originally started as a diatribe against the cost of sports for children and slowly segued into a rant against town planners.
So let's segue into the women's defeat against Brazil yesterday in soccer in the Women's World Cup semifinals.
Did anyone see that game?
Aside from the extremely poor officiating the American women were very sluggish. Before I watched the game (and not all of it because we had swim tryouts) I knew the score and was anxious to put the blame on the coach and Brianna Scurry. But after watching for 20 minutes or so it wasn't the replacement of Hope Solo by Scurry that caused the loss: the Brazilian women's team was tremendous!
And Cristiane from Brazil, although looking like someone who would chomp you up, played better than many men I've seen. I shouldn't make that comparison - it seems rather sexist - but she was amazing! Shannon Boxx's red card in the first half was a horrific call, or as they said in the half-time show, "The worst call we've ever seen in our lives," it still didn't make that much of a difference because the U.S. women were not playing well anyway.
Alright, enough about sports.
But if you have any horror stories about the rising costs of sports for kids feel free to share them.
I'm off to get ready for work.
Tomorrow we'll see if we can get Hannah Montana tickets - wish us luck!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I can't help it because I'm lame like that

Sorry to be so boring -- it has been extremely busy around here this week.
And work has been, well, a chore.
I need to make plans to go out with Sheri and Jean, I owe emails to Angelika and Purl -- I'm such a slacker. BTW, head over to Angelika's blog and check out her lovely new shawl that she finished in like a day.
I have a presentation on punk rock due on Monday for class (hence me downloading songs I'm discovering 30 years too late) and I have been busy incubating on that and putting my slide show together.
Not even much knitting is being done although I did unravel my second Fetching wristwarmer because the count was all off - and I did that last night while at Girl Scouts. I had to go help the girls train to sell cookies but hallelujah, praise the Lord and all that -- this year I am not the Cookie Mom.
Which gives me time to get my Graduate School application together to submit no later than November 15. I'm enrolled in the last class I can take as a non-matriculated student - 0nly 9 semester hours allowed - and the VA won't pay for more than 6 so that money vein is temporarily tapped out .
So my apologies for being so darn boring -- I can't help it. I'm hoping this weekend will be the Best Ever!
Well, as long as I'm prepared for class on Monday night.
And a big hello to my friend Janet, with whom I was stationed in Okinawa back in the early 90s. We reconnected through Together We Served which is a great resource for finding other Marines. Or any of those other branches of the Service.
And now I'll leave you with one of my favorite Far Side strips -- have a great day!

P.S. I need a button for my blog - does anyone know how to make them?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dysfunctional Family, Example #634

The 16 year old son is playing Halo 3 (just released today!).
The 8 year old daughter is doing homework for the 16 year old (Chemistry).
The mother is downloading punk rock from iTunes (Sex Pistols, Ramones, The Damned, Dead Kennedys, The Clash and Elvis Costello).
What's wrong with this picture?
If you guessed that they are all up past their 9:00 bedtime then you are the big winner!
It's a wonder we don't have hound dogs sitting on the front porch and a still in the backyard.
Moonshine and Patsy Cline.
Yee haw.

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to Help Them Win

Recipe for a successful team dinner:

5 pounds of spaghetti
10 jars of sauce
3 pounds of ziti
2 pounds of mozzarella
6 pounds of ground beef
fresh basil
8 garlic cloves
2 loaves of Italian bread
2 pans of brownies (donated by another mother)
2 cases bottled water

Make spaghetti ahead of time and keep warm in new turkey roaster (won at raffle, not purchased - yea me!). Bake ziti with some sauce and LOTS of mozzarella. Serve all with extra meat sauce, stand back and watch them eat.
Let's hope they win today after all the carbs I gave them yesterday.

Final score of tonight's game - Our team 2, the Other team 0.
Must be all the love and care we put into the dinner that brought about the win. I'm sure it wasn't their mad soccer skills alone that did it, right?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Famous Last Words....Before You Hear the Scream

In an email to Angelika last night one of the last things I said was that I was going upstairs to turn the heel on my sock.
Oh I turned it alright.
I turned it into one big mess.
I think I need a lifeline, big deep calming breaths, and the patience to tink my mistake.
And then enlightenment.
Oh yes, definitely enlightenment.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Knitting Life

I spent over an hour at the orthodontist's office waiting for someone to go from this:

to this:

While there I worked on this:

Okay granted this is a picture of my sock on Main Street where I waited for my lunch which consisted of a gyro from the Greek restaurant, but I really did get a lot of work done on it at the orthodontist's office. The body is coming along okay - I don't necessarily like the way I cast on - but we'll see what happens when I go to work on the heel. If you hear hysterical screaming
coming from my part of the continent you will know I've screwed up. And for those who are wondering the yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Bright Charcoal.

Because I just don't have enough to fill my life I've gone and joined a couple of other KAL's. Fortunately one doesn't start until November and by then my class will be winding down.

As an aside whenever I use the phrase winding up/down it always gives me a private chuckle because it makes me think of "Mama's Family" and the episode where they end up on Family Feud and Mama is asked to name something you "wind up" and she says a letter. They lose but of course she's right, because what do you normally write at the end of a letter: "Guess I'll be winding up this letter now."

Okay, sorry for the digression, back to the original post.

So one KAL that I joined, and I'm blaming this on Caroline, is the Anne of Green Gables Knit and Read Along. I started listening to the free audio recording (courtesy of LibriVox) and fell in love with the story. Where has it been all my life?

I really have no clue what I'll knit - a shawl seems logical, but we'll see.

I also joined the Bag Style KAL.

The book doesn't even come out until November, like I said earlier, so I'll have some time to get some things done and get my life in order.

Now for some exciting news, after I took SN2 to school following his orthodontist appointment I got this delivered by UPS:

Yee ha.
I love it - and it is so Fuge!!!
Who knew?
Well Purl did but I just had no idea of it's true size.
I almost wanted to fill it up with my sock and some knitting accoutrements and take a walk. After all it was a glorious autumn day here (even though technically it's not autumn yet), but I really needed to work on some writing for school so I just perched it on the rocking chair close to the computer and looked at it fondly from time to time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Remembering Lora

Let me tell you about my friend Lora.
She was one of the nicest people you could have ever met.
Born and bred in Stafford, Virginia, she loved her Marines, and in turn they loved her. After she graduated from high school she tried to get a job on Quantico because she just loved Marines so much. A few months went by and she was still unemployed so when the phone call came from the Fort Belvoir Civilian Personnel Office her mother told her she had to take the job. Essentially, Quantico Civilian Personnel never called her. But Lora would always joke and say that God knew what he was doing because if she had started work at Quantico back when she was 18, well they would have erected a statue to her because she just loved her Marines so much.
I think you get the idea.
Finally after 20+ years at Fort Belvoir she got a job on Quantico. A little older, a bit "fluffier", and truly happily married to a wonderful man (a former soldier, but that's okay) Lora still loved her Marines although this time there was no fear that they would be erecting a statue in her honor.
She still wanted to take care of them though.
Her office was always filled with Marine Corps memorabilia and she kept her candy dish full, stopping at Giant every morning to make sure that her Marines always had something. If there was a birthday celebration, she was always the first there to make food, because she just loved her Marines and would do anything for them.
And she never asked for anything in return.
As a secretary she wasn't making a ton of money, but she would spend every penny she had on her Marines (well, whatever she could without making her husband fuss at her).
She would always say, "You know, people try to give me money for this candy, but I don't want it. I just want to be remembered, and if there's a war someday and some Marines are in their fighting hole and they can think back on the lady who gave them candy and loved them so much, then I'm happy. That's all I want."
Oddly enough one of "her Marines" was attached to Lima 3/25 which took so many casualties a few years ago in Iraq and I would often wonder if the young major took time out from the horror and chaos of war to remember Lora. I'm sure he did because if you knew Lora, you loved her.
There was an occasion when our Branch went up to Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria to have our own separate Marine Corps ball. If you have ever been stationed with or around Marines, you will know that the Marine Corps ball is THE social event of the year. Even children who are educated on Marine Corps bases come home with Marine Corps artwork on or around 10 November (mine did).
It's that big of a deal.
It is also a big deal when you choose the person to cut the Marine Corps birthday cake.
I'm sure you can already guess who was awarded the honor of cutting the birthday cake at our celebration.
She was tickled, but none of us would have it any other way because as much as she loved her Marines, we all loved her right back.
I worked with Lora for four years and I can't ever recall being upset with her - she was a sweet Southern lady who was just happy to be working around her Marines, and we were happy to be working with her.
The main comfort I can draw from her premature passing is knowing that when they bury her at Quantico National Cemetery on Thursday she will still be surrounded by "her Marines."
I can't think of anything more fitting.
I will miss her very much.

The Free Lance-Star - Date published: 9/16/2007

Lora S. Robertson

Lora Snellings Robertson, 54, of Dumfries died Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, at Potomac Hospital.

Lora was a 35-year government employee serving her last 12 years at Quantico. She was an avid reader and loved her pets and gardening.

Survivors include her husband, Russell J. Robertson; her mother, Ann Snellings of Stafford County; her brother, Gary F. Snellings and his wife, Sharon, of Stafford; father-in-law Ivan Robertson and his wife, Glenda, sister-in-law Michelle Helmka and her husband, Chuck, all of Cadillac, Mich.; a nephew, Ernie Snellings and his wife, Deanna, of Stafford; a niece, Stephanie Snellings of Fredericksburg; two great-nephews, Carey W. Snellings and Kyle White; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A funeral will be held at noon Thursday, Sept. 20 at Covenant Funeral Service, Fredericksburg, with the Rev. Beverly Beach officiating. Interment will follow at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 in Quantico National Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association, Box 1131, Fairfax, Va. 22038-1131.

Online guest book at

Friday, September 14, 2007

When a Star Falls

When a star falls, like Britney at the VMA's (and for the past two years), rest assured Tori Amos will be there to support you.
This is why I love her so much - Tori is an amazing performer but she also focuses on socially relevant topics.

During the singer-songwriter's concert in Melbourne, Australia on September 11, a day when most words addressed tragic fare of another kind, Amos turned her attention to the embattled pop star. "I have a comment," Amos began. "We've all seen it on the news." She then launched into a lilting, if melancholy, improv, singing, "Britney, they set you up/ ...This is what it looks like when a star falls/You're a mother but you need a mother to pick you up/I'm a mother but I need a mother to pick me up."
And she's right, we have a way that we laugh at celebrity (I know I'm guilty of this) instead of feeling sympathy for them. It's hard, because you think, well you put yourself out there - and sometimes there's more out there than you really want to see!

"You see a lot of women today -- maybe in magazines -- crawling out of cars and thinking it's sexy," Amos recently told Spinner. "[And] for the most part, you don't hear guys going, 'Wow! I am just blown away by that beauty or by that woman's way. There's something about her.' No. Do you know what they do? They laugh. They laugh when we're spreading our legs and crawling out of a car. It's tragic. Ultimately, we demean ourselves."
Check out this link to the article at, the recording is at the end so you can hear it for yourself, because the excerpt above is just words on a screen, you have to hear it to appreciate the message.
And at least Tori is trying to be constructive instead of destructive like this whack job who wants to behead pop stars. Yeah, way to enlighten people.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fingerless Mitts to Cover My Paws

Based on Angelika's recommendation, and also upon the fact that I really really like the Fetching wristwarmers, I joined this KAL:

My philosophy is better this time around. I started the KAL before I even joined, and now I have one wristwarmer (the left one) 95% completed (have to do the thumb portion). This way I figure I'm ahead of the game and not months (or years) behind everyone else.

I got this book in the mail earlier this week:

You know I am bound and determined to knit some socks.
I have to go camping with the Girl Scouts next weekend and you know I really don't want to go. But then there's DN2 crying and telling me, "Mommy, you know I can't sleep without you."
Talk about the guilt factor. So I'll be heading out there. It's only one night so it shouldn't be so bad. Besides, I think about Jennifer knitting during her campouts with the Boy Scouts and I use her as my inspiration.
Now with that being said, does anyone have any size 2 DPs I can borrow???

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ice Cream Time!

What time is it?
It's ice cream time!
DN2 won a raffle on Saturday because she knew the year the town was founded.
Well, she had a bit of help on the answer.
So we went to the Town Board meeting last night to pick up her prize.
A $20 gift certificate for the local ice cream/candy store!
She was so excited, and she wanted my Hippie Flower Child friend to come along.
We met up at 8:00 and helped ourselves to some frozen treats, courtesy of the town and DN2:

Yes, that is my knitting on the table.
Still plugging away at my Chevron Scarf.
One of these years I'll get it done.
The problem is I knit on it for 4-8 rows and then I get bored.
I'm just about done with my first Fetching wristwarmer.
It is a fast knit, but I have been so busy lately, except Sunday when I sat on my butt for most of the day, watched tv and napped.
Anyway, we had a great evening.
And the ice cream was awesome.
Even if we did have to wear coats when we went out -- yes, it is that cold.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This is how they get you hooked

So remember I bought some new Lancome lipstick a few weeks ago?
Well in my free package that came with purchasing so much from Lancome was a sample jar of some anti-wrinkle cream (you know those bags filled with sample sizes you get).
Now that I'm at the double 4 I have to really be careful with wrinkles (and grey hair).
Yes, I am older.
Anyway, I started using this sample and I've really begun to love it!
My skin is smoother and firmer and the cream is really miraculous.
Since my sample jar is almost empty I thought I would go on the internet and price it before I went to Macy's to buy some more.
And I'm thinking, "Oh this will probably put me back $50 or so."
The thing with marketing is they give you a sample and get you hooked.
Once you're hooked they know you'll pay any price for your fix.

Well this Lancome cream costs.......
(hold onto your hats)
That's a pair of shoes (or darn close to it)!
It seems to deliver on its promises:
Immediately: Fine lines and wrinkles appear diminished.
In 4 weeks, significantly reduce the number, depth and size of deep surface wrinkles. In fact, over 72% of women showed a visible reduction of wrinkles on the forehead, between the eyebrows, around the mouth corners, and the lips.
But my goodness, what a price.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Feeling Objectified

So we were coming home from the Devil's Store (aka Wal-Mart) last night and as we pulled into the driveway a familiar song finished on the radio and another started immediately after. It was some kind of Top 20 show, and since I'm way out of touch with popular music (although I did watch the first few minutes of the VMA's last night and I did think Britney was pretty horrific) I couldn't tell you what the song was.
Apparently DN2 knew it, though.
As I turned off the truck DN2 had something very interesting to say about this particular song, and songs of its ilk (and I've edited the conversation, leaving out my "Ohs" and "Ums" and such):

"I hate songs where they only talk about a girl's body. It's like all that matters to them is someones breasts or their butt. It makes me feel abused, sexually abused."
Wow, how do you answer that? On one hand I am so glad that she recognizes objectification when she hears it and sees it (although she still plays with Bratz dolls). And I'm so pleased that she realizes that there is more to a girl/woman than body parts, and remember she's only 8 and she has come to this conclusion on her own.
But where do we go next?
Perhaps we might start with a trip to the Susan B. Anthony House and other female empowerment activities.
I have to tell you, though, I wasn't expecting this one, although I'm glad she's aware.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Red Letter Day

Today is my special day.
It's my birthday!
Now can anyone explain why I woke up at 5:00?
(Psst, that's a rhetorical question so no need to really answer.)
Yesterday DH (and I) finally got around to ordering my birthday present.
It's something I really want, and have wanted for a while:

It's a Jordana Paige Knitter's Satchel, and of course in red.
Red is the color of my birthday.
Well at least for the past two years.
Remember my shoes from last year?
Do you know I still have not worn those outside of a building - the bottoms are still unmarked.
I bought a present for myself, of course, and I've been enjoying it since Friday:
It's Hazel! This show is truly funny, I've seen it before but never all at once and it is great!
I've been working on some handwarmers and watching the show, and I also worked on something for a festival we had here in town yesterday - at which I worked all day.
By the way, I am using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran for the handwarmers and I truly wish I had known about this yarn before -- it is sooo soft!! I love working with it!
Anyway, I'm going back upstairs and have a cuppa, watch Hazel and knit.
That's how I'm spending most of my day!
Enjoy yours!!

Post Script: I forgot to tell you about the t-shirt DN1 got for me! She bought me this from Threadless:
You know I've been waiting for this shirt for so long. It is awesome. And irreverent! Because I'm a master of irreverence. Or am I a lewd street performer....hmmm....Well at least I'm not Karl Marx with a lampshade on my head.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

It's scary what these things know

I try so hard to be a good girl.
I mind my P's and Q's and try not be too snarky, rude, and nasty and all that.
Apparently it sometimes leaks through.
I've now discerned the reason for that.
According to my name I am right on track.
Check this out:

Julie XXX --


A lewd street performer

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Who knew?
I guess I am who I am.
Even when I type in my maiden name, it is spot on:

Julie ZZZ --


A hermit living in the big city

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

This thing is so accurate it is scary.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Now That the First Day is Over....

Do you remember how it is on the afternoon of Christmas Day?
The presents have all been opened, you know there are not anymore gifts coming your way, you probably didn't get what you wanted anyway, and you're just tired and have a headache from waking up way too early.
You look around at all the decorations and think, "Damn, now I have to put these things away."
That's when you know that the Christmas spirit has really left the house.
I fully expect day two of the school year to carry a similar reaction.
So here's a shot of the kids from yesterday when they were excited about heading off to a brand new year and not bored to tears by the drudgery of having to get up and go to school when they'd rather be hanging around the house watching tv, reading, playing Webkinz, and knitting. Oh wait...that's me.
Anyway, here are the happy two:

SN2 and his ride. He hasn't ridden the bus in almost two years.

The long walk...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My Days of Leisurely Mornings Have Come to an End

It is the first day of school.
I couldn't wait until 7:15 to get into the shower, I had to get up and take a shower before SN2 got in there at 6:00.
See, I don't have to be to work until 8:00.
Since I ride my bike it usually takes me about 7 minutes to get there, so I don't end up leaving the house until 7:50 or so which puts me in my office, after storing my bike, right on time.
Granted I get up every day at 5:00 or thereabouts.
So what do I do for almost 3 hours every morning?
Knit, read, watch tv, play on Webkinz -- generally fart around.
Well and do laundry, dishes, and gather the garbage.
But no more more sitting around having leisurely mornings anymore.
The kids are back in school.
Yesterday we went to DN2's open house and met her teacher.
We asked the teacher who DN2's PE teacher is going to be and she replied, "Miss She's Your Cousin, That's Who."
Really! It's true! DN2's PE teacher is my first cousin, making her DN2's second cousin.
I actually had my cousin as my PE teacher and diving coach when I was in high school.
It's a small town and my grandparents had seven children.
As a matter of fact I work with a second cousin and his wife - it's kind of cool. And two other guys who are the nephews of my uncle (through marriage). But I digress.
Anyway we found out that DN2's teacher is very good friends with "Miss She's Your Cousin, That's Who" and even went on a trip with her over the summer.
So when DN2 was feeling a bit nervous yesterday about going to school I said, "Don't worry, your teacher will probably think that if she's mean to you Miss She's Your Cousin, That's Who will come and get her."
I doubt it, but it brought a bit of comfort to her.
SN2, on the other hand, just called me five minutes ago from school and said, "I can't remember which class I'm supposed to go to for advisement."
I can see we'll have a productive year again.
To quote Borat, "Not!"
Our weekend has been spent watching soccer and critiquing (and criticizing) the coach.
SN2 made the varsity team (did I tell you that?) and we've been to two night games so far and the temperature makes me wish that I were knitting an afghan so I could keep warm.
On Saturday night it was 55 degrees.
How can that be?
It's only September!!
I guess along with my leisurely mornings coming to an end, so has the summer.
Hasta la vista warm days and nights, bienvenido ass-freezing cold.