Monday, May 25, 2009

A Day to Remember

Today is a day to remember. Remember the people who have sacrificed and given their lives to make sure that I, as a woman, can make decisions regarding my life; vote for who I want – without fear of retribution – and to raise my children to know God. That same sacrifice means another mother somewhere else in America can feel secure raising her children to know Allah or Yahweh.

It's on dates like today that I think of my grandpa Nelson. A World War II veteran who served in the Pacific Theater, My father said Grandpa didn't talk about the war until after I was born. Sometimes I'd sit on Grandpa's lap as a little girl when he described what it was like to swim the contents of the trucks from the LST troop transporter to the shore as they hopped from island-to-island. How the intense buzz of mosquitoes drove the soldiers back into the diesel soaked, shark-infested waters. He described how he feared that the "something" he bumped into while swimming to shore might be shark and not the side of beef as he originally thought.

Other times I'd sit next to him. He in his rocking chair with his chipped coffee cup balanced precariously on the wide wooden arm and me on the floor, looking up. Often the percolated brew was forgotten in the midst of the story. When he looked out, he didn't see me. He wasn't sitting in his chair anymore – he was remembering the heat and how uncomfortable he was in the flat-soled combat boots and the constant motion of the sea under him.

He reminisced about the poker game he was playing in the bowels of the transport ship when news came of the Japanese bombers hitting Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He passionately spoke of the ongoing argument between Army and Navy “brass.” One wanted their ship– one of the few remaining American vessels in the Pacific Ocean – to continue on to it's original destination, the Philippines, or to go to Australia.

I truly regret my grandfather Nelson died when I was an eighth-grader. He had only begun to share his experiences during World War II when he became sick. I listened to the stories, but as a child I didn't pay attention like I should have.

Today, I rocked his great-grandson and namesake in that same rocking chair as I struggled to find the right words to explain the significance of Memorial Day in terms a 3-year-old would understand. I fear I've failed.

His other great-grandfather is a World War II veteran, too. He died nearly 50 years ago and unfortunately, I know very little about him. I assume he served in Europe based on the silver Nazi officers' gun that has been passed on to my husband. The 9 mm holds Nazi emblems and is shrouded in mystery. I do not know where it came from or how he acquired it. It is one of the few items that link generations. In this case, there are no stories to share.

Perhaps part of my responsibilities as a parent is to share the stories I know, answer the questions the best I can and help my children realize that Memorial Day isn't just to remember those veterans who have died. There is a while new crop of veterans – people they know, friends of their uncles – who have given similar sacrifice to protect their rights.

Today on Memorial Day I remember the veterans of my country who have given themselves to make sure that on my 30th birthday the biggest hardships that I've faced in my life are insignificant compared to the persecution women across the world have faced and continue to confront.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Channeling the older generation

Tonight I cleaned out my closet and had several shirts that were worn out. Instead of just pitching them, I systematically snipped off the buttons. I'm sure someday I'll have the need for 1 inch burgundy buttons or 12 5/8 inch light pink buttons, so that's why I saved them.

My Grandma Edie would cut buttons off, save them for a future sewing project. The garment was placed in the "rag bag" for some future use. While I didn't put my shirt in the rag bag, I couldn't help but feel like I was channeling her in my actions. I did salvage two pairs of jeans for patching. It seems my main parenting task -- aside from reminding the minions that fingers don't go in noses -- is fixing holes in the knees of their pants.

I'm now beginning to think I need to start by own "rag bag." I remember Grandma Edie's rag bag being a magical place. When she'd make clothes for my Barbie she'd pull out the perfect blue damask to make a ball gown for Peaches and Cream Barbie. The magic bag also contained the fake fur coat that she used to make Dewey, my teddy bear. Twenty-six years later, there was still enough fabric remaining in the rag bag -- which my aunt now has -- for my mother to make paw pads for the teddy bears she made for her grand children.

If I create a magic place for my children to explore when I'm working in my craft room, maybe they'll leave the yarn and spinning wheel alone. Now there's a point to ponder.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I made my first major road trip alone with the kids this past weekend. Here's how the trip to Mitchell broke down.

5:10 p.m Left day care. The car is loaded. Everyone went potty and we’re on the road.

5:25 p.m. Stop to get gas in Orange City, about 20 miles from home. No one has to go potty. I go in to pay for gas and wait 15 minutes for the most incompetent cashier EVER to ring up a dude’s donut, lottery ticket and doh, he forgot to add the $20 in gas, but couldn’t figure out how to add the gas to the previous total of $3.28.

5:45 p.m. On the road again, finally.

6:15 p.m. Hit Hawarden, 20 more miles downt he road and turn onto Highway 12 to head south. A chorus of “I have to go potty” erupts from the back seat. I back track, to hit the new Casey’s -- which I know has a public potty and escort the minions to the bathroom.

6:25 p.m. On the road again. I finally give up on trying to listen to some news as I am bombarded with a slew of questions. Namely I explain what a gravel pit is, what an irrigation system is and speculate with I-minion where the train might go and why it isn't on the track for him to see. E-minion is content to watch the fields pass by -- almost on the verge of sleeping, I think.

I cruise through Akron, smugly knowing that I am on my way to Westfield (which is 20 miles from our last stop) where I will cross the Big Sioux River and have the highway automatically turn into the road that will lead me directly to Vermillion -- the midpoint of this adventure.

Alas, I approach the turn, the Iowa DOT has conviently blocked out the sign, that I assume says Vermillion, SD X miles. I have to back track to Akron to find a place to cross the river. I’m thinking horrible thoughts a la Oregon Trail and fording the river so I can cross wherever I want to. But, I don’t think it my little station wagon would do as well as a canastoga wagon and a horsepower of two --especially since the river looks high.

I answer a ton of questions about the bridge being closed for repairs.

I take the detour and head up and down some wonderful bluffs that A) I cannot believe they paved roads here and B) I estimate the slope to be somewhere around 12 percent range. E-minion mentions it makes her tummy feel funny. Thank you South Dakota for you 65 mph speed limits and my lead foot, for giving my daughter her first roller coaster experience.

I get off my detour, and attempt to follow my directions which were way whacked. So I eventually just find a paved road figuring it will either get me to Vermillion or to a sign which will tell me what direction to go to Vermillion.

7:25 p.m. I am on Cherry Street in Vermillion (which happily is Highway 50, for future reference) I call the little brother and we meet at McDonald's. As I finish the conversation E-minion pipes up I have to go potty NOW. I unbuckle her, she looks a little pale.

As we are washing hands, I-minion wanders under the automatic hand dryer, it turns on and scares him. He screeched and jumped enough to almost whack his head on the dryer. We come out and my little brother and his new girlfriend are there.

We eat the standard chicken bites and a couple fries, drink our chocolate milk. I-minion new stories about the 4969 pickup he works on with his dad. E-minion dances around her chair, it’s all good.

We hop in the car, with the little brother and head out. Everything is going well, and all we hit a weather front and the temperature drops from 55 to 42 degrees. The wind picks up and it to rain, hard. In no-man’s land between Yankton and Tyndall I-minion announces he has to go potty.

I try to convince him to wait until we get to a town. It didn’t work. I pull over, unbuckle. He doesn’t like the wind, rain or traffic – it scares him. Frankly, it scared me. It’s a two-lane highway that’s busy.

I-minion get’s his first “pee in the bottle” experience while standing inside the back hatch of my car, while shivering.

After I buckle him up, tuck his favorite blanket around him, he shivers for a bit before he announces he’s not doing that again – it’s too cold.

8:45 p.m. both minions crash.

9 p.m. Mom calls “Where are you?” Not there yet, I respond and remind her of traveling with toddlers is like.

9:30 p.m.
We pull into Mitchell, park the car and haul sleeping minions from the car into Grandma’s where they promptly wake up, convinced it’s time for breakfast.

The rest of the weekend went swimmingly. We shopped, getting new summer clothes. We fixed the grill, we napped (and mama ran errands with her mama). Then after nap we went to the farm were we met a baby cow. The minions were worried that he was all by himself and wondered why John didn’t have a calf-sitter.

We saw a batch of newborn kittens. Everyone took a turn driving the tractor. E-minion is a pro, after driving the mower with mom last summer as we picked up sticks. I even got in on the tractor driving. I hope to post more about the weekend soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Vampy Scarf

I had planned The Rosalie Hale Scarf to serve as a substitute in the “mindless” knitting rotation after a particularly frustrating sock. The pattern is a free one from A.M. Downs (link to blog and pattern.) This is based on the scarf that Rosalie Hale wears in the Twilight Movie during the grand entrance of the vampires. It’s beautiful, long and elegant.

(I'll admit it doesn't look as cool, as it does on Rosalie in Twlight, but you can see the details nicely)

The chevron lace scarf has a 14 row pattern repeat. I wanted to knit it – knowing full well that I wouldn’t wear it. But I NEEDED to knit it. I bought yarn, Red Heart Soft (I was in search of Caron Simply Soft, but apparently none of the little stores that carry yarn in my part of rural Iowa have it). I cast on and the first half went well. I had gotten each pattern repeat to take about 15 minutes.

Then I got cocky.

I started the second half of the shawl and the entire process went something like this: Knit 21 rows, rip 14, knit 14, rip 14, knit 21 rows, knit 14 rows, and rip 21 out. I got a bit compulsive, I admit. There is not a mistake in the lace of the project.

Unfortunately, there are several mistakes in the single crochet border around the entire scarf. My mantra is “I hook because I have to.” I don’t like crocheting – there is too much wrist movement. My hands ached by the time I got around the entire scarf. I also was sweating a bit, considering when I was done I had 36 inches remaining.

Pattern: Rosalie Hale’s Scarf
Yarn: Red Heart Soft
Cast On: April 1, 2009
Cast Off: April 11, 2009
Blocked: April 12, 2009
Details: I love this scarf. I loved knitting it, but it isn’t me. I sent it to Knittingtothebottom as part of the Eclipse Swap on Ravelry. It's now making it's home in New Jersey, with potential day-trips to New York City. I think it's found a happy home.