Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ask Me Why

I have been asked "why" a lot since I started planning this wedding for my kid and her fiancee, the Gerbil who came to my front door one day and never went away. Oh, we tried to send him packing. The first time we met him was at my first book launch. I thought he was there with her friend Katie, and that was ok by me. Go ahead, Gerbil-boy. Date Katie. Stay away from my kid. Turns out he was holding Girl's hand behind her friend's backs in the photo of the four of them taken that day. The next time I saw him was when Girl tried to kill him with her car by driving it into the side of an SUV. Gerbil brought her home in his car after the accident. He opened the door for her, and followed her in. I took one look at his young face and thought to myself  "We are doomed. He's in love." Mr. Wonderful knew it too, in his gut, but I don't think he yet had words for it. He became instantly nervous, jittery, and cracked rude jokes. We even sent her to Indiana for a year to see if that would end it, but still they stayed together. 

One day he showed up here and said he needed to talk to Mr. Wonderful and I alone. He asked for our blessing - not permission, but blessing - in asking our daughter to marry him. We said yes. They didn't really give us a choice.

Girl recently sent me this essay, one she wrote and submitted somewhere and had rejected (FOOLS!! Reject MY kid?). It answers the "Why?" question perfectly. Why am I planning (and paying for) this wedding? Why am I not discouraging my daughter from marrying her first love? Why am I not 'making' her play the field a little more, to see what's out there? Why would I sell an arm to make sure she has fairy land trees on her reception tables? This is why:

If you're the sarcastic type of person I used to be, you'll go to that big old dusty book that sits neglected on the shelf and find the handy definition of love. You may even go so far as to memorize it in case any friends sigh into the air, "What is the meaning of love anyway?" According to good ol' Merriam Webster love is, "strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties" and "attraction based on sexual desire" as well as "affection and tenderness felt by lovers; affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests" So love is easily summed up in a few sentences? Of course. Any feeling can be tied up in such a tidy bow. But on the cutting room floor lay the extra bits of love, the real meat behind the fluff, if you will. Shall we take a look at it together?

                Until about four years ago my whole life was filled with watching. I watched other hearts soar and invariably crash a few months later as attraction faded. I heard the word love bandied about by anyone from toddler to teen to adult and always with the same bitter end. Of course I had my examples of undying love too. My parents met and seem to still be falling in love with each other. But their love didn't interest me the same way the sporadic infatuations of my peers did. I wanted to know what the big deal was, why the burning indulgent flames that consumed them were so worth the hurt when they were properly doused by reality. So, when a sullen-looking young man with dancing green eyes started following me around I let him. When he started looking less sullen and more charming I decided to see if I could like him. When his eyes said he loved me I decided to see if I could love him back. Little did I suspect I already did.

                What started as an experiment has turned into a way of life. Suddenly the ups and downs of friends don't seem so exciting. In fact the quiet - steady love of my parents has become far more intriguing to me. Their love and mutual respect has been around since I can remember. I never really gave it any thought because to me it seemed as normal as the sun rising. Of course my parents had water-fights in the kitchen. Of course they giggled like children playing. It wouldn't be home if they didn't play tug-o-war over a dishcloth or a package of chocolates.

                While I could never find the words to tell the meaning of love I have learned a lot about its nature from watching my parents and from trial and error with my own love. It isn't a solid feeling. It doesn't run away or lose interest. Attractions and lusts can sometimes feel like love but they disappear at the first sign of effort. Love takes a lot of work which wasn't something I knew before I met this man of mine. It seems so effortless in movies, the bad guys are always proven to be bad, and the good guys always catch the train just before the girl leaves. But love itself isn't two actors reading from a proofread script. It's two people looking into each other and wanting to be around everything the other is. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both draw breath from this earth.

                My favorite thing about love is how it grows infinitely. From the corny jokes to the long silences, I never would have thought I could be entirely myself with another person and actually gain their love and respect by doing it. Inspired by love I've learned the importance of absolute honesty not only with him but with myself. I've learned that patience is more valuable than being right. And that picking your battles is less about battling and more about realizing whatever the fight would have been about just wasn't worth it. You cannot build love together without building a life to support and nurture it, and let me say, it is a beautiful life to have. 

I can plan this wedding with soaring joy in my heart, I can stand by and watch my husband "give" my only daughter away to a man I have come to love as one of my own easily and with very little concern for the future of who they will become together. Oh, sure, they'll have their issues as we all do, but at the end of the day, what we were trying to teach them? Apparently, they got it. And they are going to be just fine.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Just Because It Doesn't Make Sense Doesn't Mean It Shouldn't Be Done.

The rabbit hole that is Pinterest has claimed me in ways that are both inspirational and unhealthy. Because our house is on the market, and every house we are looking at is significantly smaller than the one we're currently in, I have found it to be invaluable in helping me sort rooms and contents, find design and storage ideas that appeal to me, and so forth. I even have a board for recipes and things, although I am trying to keep that under control. The other day, however, Pinterest veered me right into and then through the wall that is sanity. I saw, thanks to one Grace Hernandez, a link to a blog wherein a Peep Wreath had been constructed. Yes, you heard me, a Peep Wreath. Not since *Tacky Tree has anything so captivated the scarier side of my brain. I became obsessed with the idea of making and owning my own Peep Decor. I mentioned this on Facebook and it turned into a Peep-a-Long, with multiple players in their homes across the country, finished objects to be revealed on Monday.

In the end I wavered on the wreath and instead ended up with a Peep Tree. The wreath posed some problems for me. I could not decide where to hang it. Inside, and it would get sugar on the walls and floor of a house I am trying to sell. On a door outside I have a few thousand winged girlfriends in the back yard who would be all over it like... well, like bees on sugar. As I stood in the craft store staring at various shapes the idea of a Peep Tree formed in my mind.

Here are my supplies:
I should add here that my husband, daughter, and future son-in-law were pretty strongly impressed with the notion that I might indeed have finally lost that cheese that clings every so perilously to the edge of my cracker. Me? A Peep ANYTHING? Corn syrup? Sugar that has been both bleached AND dyed? Really?

This didn't stop me from gaining at least one willing volunteer:
Although convinced of the craziness of this project, he nonetheless sacrificed himself by opening the Peeps and sorting them into color co-ordinated piles. Some of the piles had fewer Peeps than others in the end. I have no idea where they might have strayed. Mr. Wonderful also was instrumental in snapping toothpicks in half. Toward the top of the tree the toothpicks went straight through, stabbing my fingers and pushing opposed, already attached Peeps right off of their perches. Not particularly effective. I also dragged out my trusty high-temp glue gun. This was a bit like bringing a bazooka to a baseball game. Peeps are made of sugar. Sugar and high temperatures can make for some interesting crafting moments.

Round one:

Although I managed to get it assembled, something just wasn't speaking to me. At one point I heard Mr. Wonderful mumble from the kitchen "You know, from here it doesn't look bad...". It didn't. It just didn't look, well, RIGHT. Even the cat was unimpressed.

I added a bow to the topper to spiff things up a bit.

That helped, but it still was not right. So I started playing with the ribbon, looping it over the tree like garland. Now we were on to something!

One completed Peep Tree.

The big question is: did I eat any? The answer is yes.

One purple Peep, which I floated on a lake of organic cocoa and date sugar. No dairy, no artificial anything, just one corn syrup, bleached, dyed, scary purple sugared thing floating on top.

In other news, I have been knitting...
baby sweater one (from my brain, but I sort of wrote it down and am thinking of publishing it if I can find a baby to stick into it).

baby sweater two (also from my brain and going in the mail tomorrow).

socks one (brain and heading for USPS also).

baby set (sweater from my brain, Saartje's Booties, Shibui baby pantsSweet Baby Cap)

baby jacket (Vintage Baby Knits "Jasper")

The baby thing has kind of been a theme lately. I honestly think it is because I love the instant gratification aspect more than anything else. I need to finish up a lace scarf this week that has been languishing - I love it, I love the yarn, but some other things came up and drew my mind and hands away. Then it will be time to begin designing and knitting things for the wedding. I am probably not going to talk much about that until after September 29. But after that you can expect one big entry (or several smaller ones) with every detail of the DIY wedding, including - if permission is granted - a picture or two of the happy couple. We are nearing in on the 6 months out mark. And trying to sell a house. While handcrafting a wedding. While writing up some patterns. While contemplating my next book. And they wonder why I am not traveling as much this year!

*Tacky Tree: Tacky Tree is a holiday tradition of sorts. It began when I was a flat broke single mother, and someone gave my kids a scrawny tree. I had maybe $20 in my pocket that day, and we spent it all on ornaments and garland. It now occurs randomly. Something inspires a Tacky Tree year - say I find a white tree with sparkles at the dump for free and just can't leave it there. Or maybe I discover that my ornaments are buried under piles of moving stuff. Or maybe we are "between trees" and I end up with a scrawny sub-Charlie Brown thing in a stand. Or maybe I just need a reminder of where I came from. Regardless, Tacky Tree goes like this: ALL items placed on Tacky Tree (other than lights and garland) must cost as little as possible - the maximum allowable amount spent on Tacky Tree is $20. Dollar store items are preferred. All items added to Tacky Tree must have at least some sparkle. Tacky Tree can accept gift ornaments from outside of the home, and these ornaments can cost more than a couple of bucks as long as they are not purchased by the owner of Tacky Tree. Try it some year. It's a lot of fun.

Friday, March 02, 2012

I Loved It Before Page Sixteen

Before I tell you about this awesome thing that I am in love with, I should qualify my statements a bit by saying that my book, 2-at-a-Time Socks, appears on page 16, smack in between Ann Budd and Clara Parkes' books. This doesn't sway my opinion as I loved it before I got there. As I have said before, if I didn't like the thing, I wouldn't say a word, you'd never know I'd gotten a review copy, and we'd all move on with life. The truth is I love the format and the concept!

Yesterday in my inbox I found an unexpected - but greatly appreciated - email from Interweave Press. I was given the opportunity to download the eMag "Simply Sockupied" ($4.99, Interweave Press). I did, and I am enamored. After a quick installation, the e-zine was mine to peruse, and peruse I did. I am not nearly as tech savvy as some of my peers, so it took me a few to figure out how to navigate (side to side for article titles, up and down for article contents), but once I did I was entranced.

The eMag is divided into 19 sections. There is a comprehensive table of contents, an editorial, reviews, patterns, advice, a few unobtrusive, well-placed ads - all the things you want and expect in a paper magazine, but conveniently on your hard drive for quick and easy reference. No dragging around a whole book just for one pattern - you can print directly from the eMag only those pages that you need. Fewer sheets of paper, less wasted space in your knitting bag, what's not to love? Remember, I am a tree hugger, so the slick paper pages of a "regular" magazine, loaded with ads and those obnoxious little response cards, always niggle my brain. Here, there's no niggling. If I want to knit Judy Alexander's Simply Elegant Cable Socks, I can just print that pattern, and not be stuck with pages I don't need.

The contents themselves are marvelous. Although this issue is aimed at beginning sock knitters, they've got experienced sock knitters covered, too. A wonderful "badge" designation helps you to determine which sock patterns are best suited to your skill level or preferred method of knitting. There are three levels of skill (first steps, step it up, and blaze a trail), and nine designations for type of sock or method of construction. Hate Kitchener? Avoid patterns with the green "kitchener" badge. Love cables? Look for a pattern with the pale blue "cable" badge.

Even if this eMag only included the five sock patterns it contains, it would be worth the investment. But you get so much more than that, from Clara's warm "Welcome" to beginning sock knitters, to a handy compilation of useful tools, yarn advice and recommendations, even a knit-along invitation - really, what's not to love?

All they need now is a pattern designed by a certain 2-at-a-Time Sock knitter, right?