Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nail Holes Are My Friend.

I know that this will come as a shock to many but occasionally….

I can be a procrastinator about things.

I KNOW! What a surprise. I am the girl that had my house unpacked (for the most part) and all the boxes left in the basement organized and on the shelves (for the most part) within two weeks of moving into Chez Knit. I do not like disorganization. I do not like clutter. I do not function well in chaos, so you can just imagine what last year was like for me as 2013 was sort of all chaos all the time around here. I was very glad to kick 2013 to the curb and greet 2014 with open arms and a big glass of beer.

But there was one thing that I didn’t do. I kept putting it off. I kept thinking that I couldn’t do it until I had painted walls.

There were absolutely no pictures of any kind up on any wall.




Bare walls in various pastel shades (gag). If you like very pale yellow or pink for your wall colors then I say embrace the pastel. But that is not my natural color pallet. I run screaming from yellow because we don’t get along. I put on a yellow shirt and people start asking if I am ill because my color looks so bad. To me, yellow is that kid on the playground who was always smiling and sunny and then took your pencil when you weren’t looking. Not that I am bitter or anything. And as for the pink walls….of which there are more than there should be. The only time that you should have walls that are pink is if you are a pre-pubescent girl with a frill complex.

Or if you are my friend, Bonnie, who would have only pink yarn all the time if she could.

For the past almost 8 months I had determined to myself that I wasn’t going to hang up a single picture until those walls were painted. Not going to do it no siree. I was just going to wander through my rooms and look at the blank walls and pretend that I was in a museum of modern art where someone had paid big money for a canvas that was painted alternate stripes of white and light gray and then called it art.

I look at those kinds of paintings (of which there is one in particular at the Cleveland Museum of Art that I am thinking of) and think, “I can DO one of those! Get me a canvas and some paint and you can make the check out to me once the paint dries.” Come on, you know you think the same thing. Jackson Pollock, Jackson Schmollock! People will pay good money for a Debbie Quigg once I get going on it.

Or not.

So here I have been, blank walls murmuring to me all day long, “We are so lonely. We are so plain. We are naked and ashamed, not even a fig leaf in sight.” I ignored them and went on about my day.

And then in a lightening bolt of thought (I do occasionally get those), I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to put all the pictures up on the walls BEFORE I ever painted a thing. I needed to be able to play with the arrangements and where I wanted  pictures to go. Where were the patches of sunlight that would not be good for photos hanging on the wall and all of that. I needed to do all of that NOW because once those walls are painted and all fresh and lovely, I am not going to want to be all willy nilly putting holes in them. I was going to want to be able to put the pictures, paintings etc. BACK up on the walls in their assigned places.

If I waited to hang pictures up on the walls until AFTER the walls were painted then there would never be any pictures up anywhere because I would be too paralyzed with wall marring fear to ever put a hole in any wall.

So for the last three days or so I have been like a crazy woman with putting things on the walls. The hammer has been going with such lightening rapidity that it is white hot. Not everything is up because I have decided to re-frame a few things and there is an “art installation” project that I am not ready to tackle. That can actually be interpreted as I have a boat load of random little pieces of art that I am going to put up willy nilly on our huge bedroom wall but not yet. I am not sure I have quite enough things for that project yet.

Putting things up on the walls of your home just makes it feel even more yours.

Despite those dang yellow and pink walls.

Who DOES that!

Friday, April 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol 255)


Good golly I am late with these!! Conversion Diary is taking Friday off but I am still here with enough blather to cover over the pain of seeing anything Kardashian on the TV.

Your blathery antidote to all things KimYe

Evidently last weekend, even though I interacted with 8 bazillion family and friends….

No one bothered to tell me that I was sporting a chin hair that was long enough that I could have knit a pair of socks with it.

I discovered Hairzilla when I arrived home. I looked in the mirror and he was waving at me with abandon….until I plucked him out that is.

Thanks everyone.

I am finally starting to feel back in the “groove” of life. All the traveling and memorializing and visiting just took a toll on my poor and ancient body. Monday and Tuesday I walked through life as if my feet were encased in big blocks of jello.

I sat down in a chair on Monday afternoon to look at something and the next thing I knew it was an hour later and I had a mouth that was as dry as the Sahara, which means that I was most likely head back, mouth wide, snoring loudly.

Thank goodness no one saw that.

The Cuckoo Clock is finally back up on the wall and running.

You didn’t know that we have a cuckoo clock? Well I had almost forgotten it too as the poor thing has been packed away in a box in the basement for a bit over four years. The person who wasted a boat load of our money house stager insisted that we remove it and pack it away when we put OCK on the market the first time. And it just stayed in the box and languished. Until suddenly yesterday, as I was sitting and reading a bit, I thought….

I need to put the cuckoo clock up!

Random thought strikes again!

First I had to find the box, which wasn’t all that difficult as we have extensive shelving in the basement and most of the boxes are now grouped by who the box pertains to or the time of the year that it is used.

Obsessive? Who is obsessive? I just like to know where things are when I need them.

But I digress.

There was the box, just like I knew it would be. Upstairs it went. Unpacked it was. Also in the box, for some unexplained reason, was the weather radio that I had looked all over for. Hmmmmm.

Because I am obsessive careful about packing the clock was intact, the chains were not tangled, the parts were all there. Up on the wall he went and he has been very happily chirping out the hour and the half hour for the past 24 hours.

And yesterday happened to be the birthday of this man (Not Papa but the fellow on the right)….


My dear friend, Werner, who along with his wife Gudrun, brought HHBL and I the clock as a wedding present when they came all the way from Germany to attend our Marital Day.

I love that clock.

And I have absolutely no idea why Papa and Werner are eating a bratwurst in a hamburger bun.

It is the little things that make you happy.

I now have a screen door on my house. The door was always there but it had a glass insert, a good thing when the weather is cold, but not a good thing when the weather is warm and you want to have a nice breeze blowing through your house because you hate air conditioning.

I would look at that door last summer, when the sun would beat down and the glass would head up and no breeze could blow, and I would wish that it was a screen door.

I was sad that it wasn’t a screen door.

I would long for a screen door.

And then last week, I was fiddling around with something by the furnace in the basement and I noticed a screen propped up behind the furnace and hiding behind an errant ceiling tile. I knew it couldn’t be one of the screens that we had taken out of the windows in the fall. Those are all stored in a different part of the basement. But where had it come from? And then it struck me like a lightening bolt on a golf course.

It might just be a screen insert for the door. I am pretty good with spacial things and it looked like it would fit.

And it did.


Now if it would just stay warm.

Here I thought that this summer was going to be long and lazy and full of days with nothing to do…..

And we now have every weekend with something planned. Or almost every weekend it would seem. How does that happen? Oh sure, there is baseball for HHBL and that happens most Saturday mornings. And then there are the people coming to visit here and there (Hey Jon, tell Kathy to call me so we can schedule your visit!) and there are several concerts under the stars that we are going to and there are several weddings that I am helping coordinate at church and there are the Pre-Marital mentoring sessions that have been planned and there might be a visit to see Mimi. And there are photo jobs.

I am going to need a vacation from my summer activities

Because I don’t have ANYTHING to do today (like finishing the editing on two jobs PLUS setting up a PASS gallery for some photos for a friend PLUS billing PLUS cleaning my office) I had to spend a boat load of time researching how to color code my calendar on my iPad. I have no idea why but I like to have my calendar color coded. I started doing that when all the progeny were still at home and we had three children with different schedules plus two adults with different schedules.

I needed color coding.

And now my iPad (and therefore my iPhone) calendar is color coded.

I am so happy.

And as usual, here are some of the Instagram photos from this past week.
2014-04-11 09.41.30-22014-04-11 20.16.56-22014-04-13 07.31.51-22014-04-13 18.34.00-22014-04-14 10.21.05-22014-04-14 14.21.13-12014-04-14 17.44.02-22014-04-14 20.04.192014-04-15 18.46.352014-04-16 09.37.17

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Have No Earthly Idea


Yes, my progeny. Always serious. Always willing to pose for just the right picture.

Knowing that I am going to put this on the blog just because I can.

I have no EARTHLY idea how they got this way. It is a mystery.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Life Worth Celebrating

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "She couldn't have actually taken a picture at her own father's memorial could she?" If you are thinking that then you haven't been hanging around here for very long. The thought that I should put the wide angle lens on Big Bertha and take a picture when I got up to speak popped up in my little cranium about a month ago. I dismissed it as just another one of my crazy thoughts....but I just couldn't get rid of it. It just kept popping into my gray matter and rattling around in there and would not be denied. And so, when I got up to speak.....I stopped to take a picture first. Dad would so have understood.

What an amazing day it was, filled with family and friends, joy and tears and more than a bit of laughter. We started the day off with a family lunch where 100+ of us were served "Deconess Casserole" in Evan Welch hall (not the actor but a former chaplain at Wheaton College and my great uncle). Every church has their own version of a deaconess casserole and these were a delicious chicken filled thing. Dad would have had a second helping I am sure. Tables were filled with families (mine takes up 8 spaces by themselves) and friends all there to celebrate and remember.

Then it was on to the service, a one hour celebration that ended up lasting.....two hours. There were hymns and organ music and......bluegrass. I wish you all could have been there to hear the memories of a man that my words cannot do justice to. I am sure that once HHBL is finished with the video editing I will show you a bit, whether you want to see it or not.

HHBL and I, Pilot Man, TMO and The Favorite Oldest Niece all spoke. That is only natural as we are all family and had happy and varied memories to share. But Mimi had also asked four other people from Dad's life to speak, to give flesh to other aspects of my father's life covering family, friend, school and colleague. There was David, a cousin who really could have been Dad's brother, they are so much alike. David echoed a theme that we heard throughout that day, that my father (and my mother as well) had taken someone under their wing and ministered to them, had mentored them, had shown them kindness and love and generosity. In Mimi and Papa's world there is always room for more family, whether it is the family you are born with or the family that you choose.

There was Dad's great and dear friend, Gilbert Bilizekian, who was a part of the Parental Unit's "Book Club" for many years. His description of my father's ability to listen to a long and wide ranging conversation with opposing views, eyes closed as if in slumber, and then when all were done speaking to condense that conversation into a precise and pithy conclusion, was wonderful to hear. I hadn't seen Gilbert in so many years although I often speak (over the blogosphere) with his daughter, Christiane, the wonderful blogger over at Taking On Magazines One Recipe at a Time. When we greeted each other before the service began he grabbed my face, as if he was still seeing the child I had been, and kissed me on both cheeks. Gilbert has always been one of my favorites.

Coming from California to speak was Dad's college roommate, Dr. Arthur Ammann. What an amazing thing to hear him flesh out a younger version of my father and their time together at Wheaton College. Dad was only 16 at the start of his college years, taking the 18 year old Art under his "wing" and teaching him about photography and how to pull pranks and not get caught, appropriating study space in an unused room in one of the college towers and filling that space with a radio, desks and mice on which they did experiments and then made their own microscopic slides in order to study the disease process and what healthy cells looked like.

My father's partner, Dr. Dwight Kett, spoke about my dad in his capacity as a doctor and surgeon. All dad's partners are amazing and capable physicians but the consensus always was that if a problem arose, they wanted Dad to be there. His knowledge and experience in his medical field was vast. He was cool and calm when "under medical fire" and always knew the right path to take. He had courage to act with calm conviction that the path chosen was the right one.

All spoke about my father's courage both in his career and in his life. He stood for his principles and what he knew was right and proper. His command of the English language was amazing. There were very few words that he couldn't define and his use of those words was impressive to say the least. Always erudite, knowledgeable about an absolutely vast array of subjects, filled with good humor and an inexhaustible supply of puns, always willing to go the extra mile for whoever needed his help or advice, he was a true Renaissance man and the family rock around which we gathered.

And finally there was Uncle Dean, speaking both as pastor and as brother-in-law. He summed up what my father would tell you if he had been there. That whatever my father was, that it was all to Christ that his knowledge and experience pointed. That Christ was all.

The rest of the day and long into the night was filled with family and friends, coming together to enjoy each other's company and share memories. I cannot tell you how many times I said that I was so glad to see people but really hated the REASON why I was seeing people. Al the mailman and his lovely wife, Sandy, were there, cousins from many different states, my sisters of the heart were there, even friends from HERE were there (thank you SO MUCH Dottie and Tony!!). The party started at the church and then continued at the house where we consumed a lot of pizza and wine (Dad always did like a good glass of Cabernet) and capped off the evening with a fire in the fire pit.

Dad would have loved it.


Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol 254)

Here we are again, gathered around the blather table, looking at the steaming heaps. You know the guide lines. When you are done here you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of Kathleen Sibelius' departure, over to Conversion Diary.

Blather that can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

1. Tomorrow is my father's Celebration of Life. Bittersweet to be sure, as any celebration of life would be. But it will be a party as well as we have people coming from 17 different states and 2 countries.

What an amazing thing that is!

There was already a boat load of laughter last night when the first of the cousins rolled in.

Cousin Kristen and I. We haven't actually seen each other since I was in high school and she was a bit younger. I believe at that point in time I chose to go and read a book upstairs rather than play with my cousins. Pilot Man evidently picked up the sibling slack on that occasion.

He is a nicer human being than I am.

And today is the 24th anniversary of Kristen's 25th birthday. I will let you do the math on that one.

2. I am now the posessor of my father's favorite towel.

I was actually unaware that he had a favorite towel until Parental Unit Mimi handed it to me. It is not the largest towel in the world nor is it the softest towel in the world. And I can only say that it is not a color that I would call lovely. But Dad and The Towel met on a lonely stretch of road where the towel had been lost by some unlucky person. Papa stopped and rescued it and then they were together from that point onwards.

Such a love story. Sniff.

So The Towel and I are now united.

3. The warm weather has finally arrived....and then it is supposed to snow, possibly, on Tuesday.

I won't repeat to you what I actually said when someone told me that there might be snow on Tuesday.

This is a family blog after all.

4. I did my morning two miles by walking around my old neighborhood. Oh what a strange experience to walk the sidewalks of my growing up. When did some of these houses get so small? And the walk to my Jr. Hi and High School always seemed long to me but really, the Jr. Hi was about 4 blocks away, my grade school was about 5 blocks and my high school less than a mile. Of course my high school is no longer there, it was replaced last year by a VERY NICE grocery store with a fabulous wine and beer department.

You can see where my priorities are. Produce? Meat? Dairy? Oh what a nice ALCOHOL department.

I was also able to walk past my grandparents old house, which is about 4 blocks from the old homestead. When last I passed that ancestral home (well, they did live there for 10 years or so) I stopped my car and took a picture with my iphone.

Almost immediately a man's head popped out of an upper window and questioned me about I was doing. When I explained that my grandparents had lived in this house years ago he was very friendly and invited me in and showed me all around and explained about their MASSIVE renovation project. This picture was taken in November, today I walked past again and the renovations to the front door are almost done and the very large addition on the back is in process. My favorite part of the "tour" was to see this...

The absolutely tiny bathroom with the only corner toilet that I have ever encounter. Once their kitchen renovation is completed this little space will be gone. For some strange reason that makes me sad.

I will just add it to my collection of "bathrooms that I have known."

Don't ask.

5. My father was the master of the well crafted flame email. No need to shout when a pithy and dagger like turn of phrase will do the trick. He didn't have to do it often, but when he did it was masterful.

I channeled my inner "Don" this week to deal with the roofer who didn't show up for two separate appointments and didn't call to tell me that he wasn't going to show up, thereby wasting my time on not one but two separate occasions. I do not take kindly to people needlessly wasting my time and then not returning phone calls. I prefer to start this kind of process with a phone call rather than email....but after three phone calls with no reply, and having to use my quiet but angry voice (ask the progeny, they know that voice) I resorted to email. It was a masterful piece of writing if I do say so myself. There were some particulary pithy phrases.

I had a reply in less than 30 minutes.

Thanks Dad for the legacy of the pithy flame email.

6.This is my mother's old address book. Folks, this is how we did phone numbers and addresses in the "old days". You should see this beauty. It is held together with duct tape and a rubber band and the pages are loose and filled to capacity. It was the thing from which all knowledge flowed when I was growing up.

7. And as is my usual custom, here are Instagram photos from my wierdly chaotic and roofer filled week.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Will Not Let It Die!

I know that Spring has finally arrived when I plant pansies.

I am in such a different gardening "place" than I have ever been before, other than our first apartment which had north facing windows and consequently wasn't good for growing anything other than moss on trees. In that first place my gardening gene was still dormant.

Here at Chez Knit the landscaping isn't my job anymore, it is the job of the landscapers who are hired by the association. That is good and it is what we were looking for when we bought this house as it frees HHBL and I up from all the yard work that we had been saddled with for so many years. I don't have to dread Spring any longer and all the beds that needed to be cleaned out and the never ending battle with the weeds and the 20 yards of mulch that needs to be spread before it starts to cook down to China.

All of those facts may be true but it doesn't mean that I can stop this urge. It doesn't mean that my once dormant but now very active gardening gene can just go back to being dormant. I may not be in charge of those bushes, especially the very sad and woebegone hydrangea, but I don't think that the landscapers care either. Believe me, if they did care then that hydrangea bush wouldn't look like it does and it wouldn't be all eaten and decimated by those rats with hooves deer.

About those deer (as I rabbit trail for a minute). There seems to be three of them that are regular visitors. And they are bold as brass. My neighbors all shake their heads at me and say, "Oh I don't think you should plant any flowers. Those deer are terrible." I scoff at them! I shake my fist at them (the deer not the neighbors). I have opposable thumbs and they (the deer) do not and I will win.

Now back to the gardening

It isn't that I won't be gardening any longer, it is just that I will be gardening in a different way than I am used to. I cannot add anything new to any of the landscape beds as they are not technically mine to rearrange. I can stick some flowers here and there but I must maintain them and they cannot be perennials. I believe that most of what I will be doing will be confined to pots and containers both in the front and on the back patio, which isn't the sunniest place in the universe. There will not be any hostas (which is most likely a good thing knowing my addiction love for them) but there will be clematis. And I don't even have to go out and buy them. When we moved in I noticed that there were two very sad, mis-planted and deer ravaged clematis in one of the front beds. I am not sure who planted them and what they were thinking when they planted them but it was a strange place to put a clematis. So yesterday I carefully transplanted the first one over to an area where it will get a lot more sun. And that made me happy.

After digging a bit in the dirt I filled up a pot with dirt and planted some pansies. And that made me even more happy.

Then I trimmed back the hydrangea bushes. I have absolutely no idea about hydrangea care at the moment, I will have to do some research on that. But all I can say is that looking at the state that they were in I didn't think I could do them any more harm. To be honest, I can actually ask the homeowners association to replace the bushes, they are their property after all and not mine. But I just have this urge to try and save them. To not give up the hydrangea ship as it were. Call me a cockeyed hydrangea optimist if you will. Just another one of my Scarlet O'Hara moments....

As God is my witness, I will not let that hydrangea die!

After trimming the hydrangeas and cleaning up my garden mess....I pulled out my jug of deer retardent spray and gave the bushes and the clematis and the pansies a good dousing, all the while hoping that my neighbors don't wonder why the 'hood suddenly smells like the day after a giant frat party. Vomit, how lovely.

Garden waste is another adjustment that I am having to make. At OCK I could just lug all of it to the edge of the ravine and chuck it down the hill or stash it in the woods or something of that nature. But here I actually have to bag the stuff up, small amount that it is, and put it in the garbage can. I don't even own a wheelbarrow any more! And I only have one shovel which actually proved to be a problem yesterday as the only shovel that I do currently own was a bit big for the digging job. I managed.

I am not always one to embrace change (stop laughing HHBL) but my brain is just a whirl with the different gardening possibilities.

Now if my little town would only get their community garden up and functioning.........

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Anniversary That Should Have Been Remembered

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan Genocide. I only saw one small article appear and that was in a UK paper. I looked yesterday, here and there, to see if anyone remembered. And I saw nothing. Nothing in my local paper. Nothing in the national papers that I read online. 60 Minutes didn’t cover it. CNN, MSNBC and FOX, all were silent on it. We have no problem remembering the anniversary every year of the death of Princess Diana.

But we can’t seem to be bothered with this.

Just like we were all silent before and after April 6, 1994. I include myself in that group, by the way. If asked, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where Rwanda was on the map let alone be able to distinguish who was killing who. It didn’t really hold any meaning for me in my small and child filled life at that time. We do not want to remember.  We do not want to be reminded because if we do remember April 6, 1994 and what happened that day and in the following 100 days, when between 500,00 and 1 million people were killed, then we will be reminded that genocide does not happen in a vacuum. President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane wasn’t just shot down over the Kigali International Airport and then people said, “We have to blame someone! Let’s blame the Tutsis!” The road signs for the genocide were all there for people to see if they chose to look. People did see, they just chose not to act. The increase in importation of machetes and guns and grenades and knives. The rise of the Hutu Power movement. The arming and training of the interahamwe.  Previous genocides in 1959, 1964 and 1990 were all smaller in scale, just a precursor if you will, to the 100 days of 1994. But no one did anything about them. And if no one does anything about smaller genocides then bigger ones will occur because the perpetrators think they can get away with it.

I can date my Rwandan awakening to a small used book store in Lahaina on the island of Maui. I don’t even remember the name of the store, it is somewhere on the main street I think, or it was in 2005. We were on vacation and were spending some hours wandering around downtown on our first day there. A used bookstore! Sweet! I went downstairs to check out the books in the History section and there, on the bottom shelf was a book with the longest and most arresting title that I have ever seen.  We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch. That is a mouthful of a title and I was intrigued. Rwanda? Genocide? I sort of remember something about that but not much. The book was a whopping $2. I bought it and was forever changed. Since that first book HHBL and I have read many if not most of the books that cover the Rwandan Genocide. We have visited Rwanda and would go back in a heart beat.

But we must never forget what happened there and our responsibility as a nation for the genocide. And yes, the United States holds responsibility. I am currently reading Leave None to Tell The Story by Alison Des Forges. Written in 1999 for Human Rights Watch it is considered the most unbiased and detailed account of the genocide. This is what Ms. Des Forges writes about international responsibility:

The Rwandans who organized and executed the genocide must bear full responsibility for it. But genocide anywhere implicates everyone. To the extent that governments and peoples elsewhere failed to prevent and halt this killing campaign, they all share in the shame of the crime. In addition, the U.N. staff as well as the three foreign governments principally involved in Rwanda bear added responsibility: The U. N. staff for having failed to provide adequate information and guidance to members of the Security Council; Belgium for having withdrawn its troops precipitately and for having championed total withdrawal of the U.N. force; the U.S. for having put saving money ahead of saving lives and for slowing the sending of a relief force; and France, for having continued its support of a government engaged in genocide. In contrast to the inaction of the major actors, some non-permanent members of the Security Council with no traditional ties with Rwanda undertook to push for a U.N. force to protect Tutsi from extermination. But all members of the Security Council brought discredit on the U.N. by permitting the representative of a genocidal government to continue sitting in the Security Council, a council supposedly committed to peace.

April 6, 1994 is an anniversary that we should remember. Not to celebrate but to be reminded that even friends and neighbors can kill other friends and neighbors simply because their identity card says one thing and not another. If genocide continues to rear it’s head in other parts of the world (Darfur, Christians in Iraq and Iran and Egypt, North Korea) then we continue to bear responsibility for it.

Below are other blog posts on the topic of Rwanda.

We must remember.

Genocide Made Real

Rwanda (this post contains a small reading list of books that I would recommend on the subject)