Birthday Weekend...and Projects Galore

A busy weekend...

Mr. T and I visited M. over her Birthday Weekend, helping her celebrate the occasion...and finish some house projects (painting the guest bedroom, repairing the broken basement window/installing a new pane of glass, and installing a new storm door on the back door). I tried to keep my mind off my aching back (it's that l-o-n-g car ride that does me in every time) by finishing my Tam o' Swatch (seen on Ted E. Bear, left) and starting a crocheted baby blanket with some yarn M. had in her stash. The shell pattern uses three colors of yarn to create the rows and will be edged in the white with a scalloped edge. This is the first crochet "pattern" I taught myself to do after the 9/11 security rules forbade taking knitting needles on planes (since eased, thank goodness)...but fortunately allowed crochet hooks in your carry-on. I've been making these Shell Baby Blankets ever since! Yes, it's made of acrylic yarn from Michael's...and the purists out there will have a mild heart attack...but I've yet to have a new Mom say "euw, yuk...I don't want a washable baby blanket that's almost indestructible. " As a matter of fact, I still have a darling crocheted shell baby blanket in yellow and white (acrylic) that a wonderful woman in our church in Cordova made for M. when she was born. It's been well-used, oft-washed and much-loved for over 28 years, and I think fondly of Mrs. Opal Mc. every time I touch it.

As I said, we had a working weekend as well as a birthday celebration. You may recall that M's house is what she calls "A Project House," and her guest bedroom was mid-project. The nasty carpet was stripped off and the floors refinished in a previous trip, and she had worked long and hard to remove the wallpaper and border from the walls and get them spackled and primed. She had decided on a lovely soft blue-green shade called Lamb's Ears (after the gray-green plant of the same name). Here's a photo (right) of her cutting in the paint, preparing for Messy Mommy (that would be moi) to fill in the big areas (no one trusts me with the delicate work, and for good reason). And here's an "after" shot of the bedroom (left), all dressed up! Isn't it lovely? Amazingly, the comforter set she had looks great with the new wall color, blending the blues and greens for an unexpected match. Mom uses this bedroom when she visits M., so there's a comfortable chair, plenty of light, and a small TV. Next up: the Office, which still has carpet to be removed, wood floors to be stripped/finished, and walls to be painted. Ah, another project...

Look what M. harvested from her very productive garden while we were there last weekend! And, believe me when I say that it tasted as good as it looked! She grew her watermelons in an area that allowed the vines to grow up over a trellis, and the melons themselves are such a rich green healthy looking. She's also got world's of Roma tomatoes on the vines, so will have lots of tomato sauce this winter. What a fabulous first garden!

After working for a while on the house projects, we headed to Pleasant Hill, KY, to enjoy dinner at the Shaker Village. We had hoped to make it to the Alpaca Farm festival but decided to put that on the calendar for next year.

Of course, it was M's birthday, so we helped her celebrate with a cake, Chinese take-out from her favorite restaurant (P.F. Chang's), and presents. Since I'm not known for my singing voice, I found this novelty cake decoration that played "Happy Birthday" while lighting up the letters; instead of 28 candles, we fell back on the stand-by 3 for Past, Present, and Future. Deep breath...and make a wish!

On Tuesday, Mr. T. headed north to work in Chi, while I headed home on Southwest. I had my Sweater Design class that night and then made a mad dash back home to tune in to the two programs I've been watching: War (on PBS) and Damages (on Fox FX). Fortunately, both were replayed, so I got to see most of both of them. War is a monumental Ken Burns production...thoroughly researched and thoughfully presented through the eyes and voices of the survivors representing 4 American towns/cities. It has been one of the most difficult programs ever for me to watch, but I think it's necessary, for a number of reasons. As Mr. T. said, if anyone thinks that war is the answer to anything, then he/she should be made to watch War. (Damages is just trash-TV, but I got hooked on it after watching a mini-marathon recently...and I had to keep watching it weekly just to see what the heck happens...:), however, I'm getting worn out with its violence, language, and sexually-explicit scenes, and just want it to reach some kind of conclusion...preferably one where Glenn Close isn't guilty of attempted murder.)

About my sweater from class...hmmm. I'm stretching myself with this class, since I've never knitted a top-down sweater before. And, at this rate, I may not finish the first one! I've followed the instructions to the letter (actually, to the "number" would be a better phrase, since math plays a huge role in this sweater), but something is wrong, wrong, wrong. Getting the correct number of stitches cast on at the neck is crucial to the success of this sweater, so you will understand when I say that I'm worried that I'm not headed in the direction of success with what I have cast on. I even took what I've done so far to the yarn shop this morning for some guidance...and it seems that I've stumped both the owner and the instructor! Well. What next? I'm going to probably re-move the work I've done so far and start over. Bummer. Tres bummer.

And, last but certainly not least, Duchess is recovering nicely following her surgery on Wednesday to remove several cysts (and, while she was "under," they cleaned her teeth, too). Dr. Rosen at the Cloud Veterinary Center reported that they were, indeed, just cysts...not tumors...and we were exceedingly thankful. Needless to say, she was quite cranky yesterday, but is much more lively today. She has taken a couple of her pain tablets (chewable, thank goodness!), and the places where her stitches are look pretty infection, so far. Of course, she appears to be wearing a patchwork-quilt coat, since they had to shave her fur at the surgery sites (6 of them, in all). And, she rode home in the back seat of my car with her head facing away from me...back turned...wouldn't look at me the whole ride home, even when I tried to soothe her. Mad at me, for sure. But, getting better, and that's what counts. It is all about the dogs, right?


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