Thursday, September 21, 2006


It is Cross Country season.

I've been quietly (and not so quietly) nudging Skip in the direction of signing up for the Cross Country team. Hey! It's a sport. He can do it BY HIMSELF, so he doesn't have to worry about idiots on the "team" who have pushy parents, or who have bad sportsmanship, or who belittle other members of the team, bla bla bla. Not that Skip's ever been on teams like that, she says, looking skyward and whistling...

Anyways, Skip's not really much of a team player. He's the Lone Wolf. And finding a sport that works for him isn't all that easy. So when Toni called to say that Cole had signed up for the Cross Country team, I started putting the bug in Skip's ear.

"Hey, your BFF is going to be running cross-country. Wouldn't it be a fun thing to do together?"

"I hear if you're on the cross-country team, you don't have to run so many laps during PE..."

"Hey, that cross-country coach is really a flaming hunka-hunk o' burning manhood..."
(oh right, that was what I said to Toni... never mind)

And Skip seemed mildly keen. At least he didn't dismiss the idea right out of hand.

Every day when he'd come home from school, I'd ask about Cross Country.

"Have you signed up yet?"

"Oh!" he'd say, as he slapped his forehead. "I forgot to sign up. I'll do it tomorrow."

Eventually, I stopped asking. He obviously wasn't as keen on things as I was.

So imagine my surprise when, last Friday, he said "Oh, mom. Don't come and get me at 3 on Monday. Cross Country practice starts, and I'll be running until 4."

The mind boggles. It really does.

Monday rolls around, and I'm one of the proudest mothers on the planet. My son, under his OWN steam, signed up for Cross Country. *preen preen*. I didn't have to go in and be the meddlesome parent and ask to speak with the coach, and hand over Junior's orthopedic shoes, and special vitamins, and request that he put on the sunscreen, and only run in the shade before 4pm.

(yeah, like THAT would happen! If I did that the coach would NEVER be my friend... [see previous entry])

So I snag Nate from his school, and then I snag Kelly from hers, and we go home to wait until 3:45, when we'll drive down to Skip's school, and watch him finish up his first Cross Country practice.

At 3:45, I've just given the kids the one-minute-warning: the "You'd better go potty now, or be prepared to hold it until 4:30" shout, when there's a rustling in the garage.

A mouse?
Nope. Bigger than a mouse.

A rat?
Nope. Bigger than a rat.

And then the garage door (into the house) bursts open, and Skip is standing there, face flushed, sweaty, and out of breath. He's carrying his trumpet, and has the 89-pound backpack on his back.

So much for Cross Country, I think.

"Mom!" he moaned, looking completely forlorn and bedraggled, " I forgot! I walked home, and I got to the [regional cross country track - which is right across the street from us, basically] and saw the high-schoolers running, and then I realized that it was practice, and I missed it!"

He slumped down on the floor beside my computer, and looked miserable.

It was now too late to go back and get in on the practice. What to do?

I quickly emailed off an apology to the coach (only a little teeny bit of the meddlesome parent coming to the forefront), and asked if Skip would still be welcome at the second practice (which was Tuesday - they practice every day after school). And then I told Skip that I was really quite impressed that he'd managed to walk ALL the way home from middle school WITH a full backpack and trumpet, and had managed to do it in under an hour. It's probably two miles. Maybe more. And it's ALL uphill. And then I gave Skip a big Gatorade, and some palmiers, to drown his sorrows.

The coach emailed me back in the evening. Of COURSE Skip was still welcome on the team. "Runners seem difficult to come by, and we take ANY and ALL, whenever they can show up!"

So Tuesday, just in case, after I'd picked up Nate and Kelly, I took them down to the Middle School, where we hung out after the final bell, just to cut Skip off at the pass, should we need to.

It was unnecessary. He came charging out of the boys' locker room in his full school garb, ready to take on the world. And he was smiling.

Yup. He was on the team.

Yesterday was the first Cross Country meet of the season for Middle School.

Skip went into it having had a SINGLE practice (which consisted of running around the neighbourhood near the school, and out into the open space by the lake. Nothing that really prepared him for the actual race. But hey! You've gotta get your feet wet sometime.

At first, there was just a lot of milling around, waiting to see what was going to happen.

Then the older kids ran, with Skip and his buddy Cole cheering them on.

Then it was time for the 6th Grade Boys to line up.

Aaaaaaand, they're OFF!

Once around the track, then out into the wilds surrounding the school...

Looping around up in the school grounds, and finally back onto the main field, for one last trip around the track before heading to the finish line...

He was not happy how he finished, but I couldn't be more pleased.


I don't care that he came in 44th. This was his first time EVER running ANYWHERE, and he actually RAN the whole thing.

His buddy Cole, hopped up on some honey-and-caffeine creation, left him in the dust and came in somewhere in the 30s. I swear, that kid has boundless energy. A bee-bee tossed from a slingshot couldn't have caught up to him. (or bounced off of obstacles with quite as much vigor, either). As I was waiting for Skip to finish, I heard Cole's dad reading Cole the riot act about Good Sportsmanship and How You Better Not Gloat Around Skip If You EVER Want To Play X-Box Again. Heh.

As I was walking away from the field with Skip, I put my arm around his shoulder, and told him that I nearly burst with pride, watching him finish that race, and that I was so proud, and how this is a GREAT way to start the season. He's got his own personal "best" time, now, and he's gonna have a great time watching himself beat that time. And next time, if he comes in 39th, he'll have made such a huge improvement, I might just bust a gasket right there from all the pride overload.

He still was feeling a bit down. Fortunately one of his mentors from his Boys Chorus was running in the 8th grade event. That boy finished 2nd. Skip really looks up to him. And while I was walking back to the car, I saw Marco pull Skip aside and say something to him. Whatever it was, by the time Skip got in the car, he was grinning like a fool, and he even joked on the way to rehearsal (yes, it was a full day yesterday! and hard on the sinuses, driving 2 pre-teen boys who'd just run 2-mile cross country races... 'open a window!"), and left the car with a smile on his face, and a spring in his step. Maybe it was the endorphins kicking in, but it's been a long time since he's really been enthusiastic about singing practice.

I think this is the start of something great.

I just hope he doesn't think he's gonna be taking ME with him on the 2-mile runs he has to take over the weekend. I'm here for encouragement and cheering. NOT as a running buddy.

At least, not yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ten True Things

I blatantly stole this from Finn. She's my hero.

1. Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day. Get out your eye patches and swashbuckling garb, to help you stay in character. Arrrrrrr.

2. I'm in Too Much To Write About mode. It renders me helpless. Sort of like how I'm standing in the middle of my house (which looks like a bomb went off in it) and thinking "I should clean, but I don't know where to start." If only there were a "Ten True Things" for housecleaning.

3. We leave on Saturday morning for one last camping trip at the Boat Club. More photographic evidence of the kids enjoying the water should ensue.

4. My inlaws arrive SUNDAY AFTERNOON. Did I mention that we're CAMPING on Saturday? At a place that is FAR AWAY from our house? And cf. point #2 up there, too. I am in deep poo. Up to my eyebrows, and maybe beyond.

5. I love the ring tone on my cell phone. It's one of those old-style telephones from the 40s. It rings like I remember my grandparents phone ringing (except theirs was a party line, so you had to listen to whether it was one ring, or two quick rings in succession, before you picked it up.) I like it because nobody else has one of those "Who's got the ancient telephone?" rings, so I always know it's mine.

6. Death Valley looms on the horizon. My inlaws are arriving so that we can all go down to Death Valley for the end of next week. Pulling the kids out of school, driving like maniacs, and crossing our fingers that it's not 119F (where F stands for Freakin' Farenheit Furnace) degrees when we get there.

7. Obligations expand to fit the free time of my life. I sent Nate off to school two weeks ago. Didn't I? By normal calculations, that gives me 3.5 extra hours of "Free" time every week day. So why does my house look WORSE than before the end of summer, when I had three kids charging through the place, dropping little bits and bobs that were like land-mines for the tender insteps of my bare feet, and eating sticky things on the furniture? I'm embarrassed to even let the kids have play dates, it's so untidy. And you'll notice a distinct lack of entries, here, too. yes, all that "free time" (cough) should've given me plenty of opportunities to update the old diary. Not happening. I need a personal manager. Someone to answer the phones for me and say "NO, I'm sorry. Mrs. Parker canNOT tutor yet another child who is behind in reading." and "No, I'm sorry. Mrs. Parker canNOT cover another shift in the library." and "No, I'm sorry, Mrs. Parker canNOT teach one afternoon a week, even if she is allowed to bring her youngest, who only has school in the mornings." You get the idea.

8. Skip has positively blossomed since hitting Middle School. He is excited about school (90% of the time, as opposed to Absolute Zero percent of the time in 5th Grade). There are still some rough patches, of course. I just hope the rough patches get smaller rather than larger.

8a. Skip's teacher emailed me. She loved my Million Word Essay. I need to email her back and ask if I got an "A".

9. I have returned to obsessively tracking a box full of yarn that is being shipped to me. Inside? The yarn for my very first "knit-along". I'll be knitting THIS. I kind of have butterflies, as it's a bit ambitious. At least for me. But I'm hoping that the 'cloud of witness' who are also knitting along will keep me on task, so that I can have this as a finished object sooner, rather than later.

10. I gained back a few of the pounds lost in last season's Healthy Living Fest. I blame it on the Unhealthy Eating Fest that consumed (pun intended) the last four weeks. I am back on the wagon, even though there is two pounds of guacamole sitting in my fridge, calling my name.

Eleventh True Thing: This entry contains no photographic content. It's been a while.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Socks on Steroids...

Ah, the Harlotty goodness that was yesterday...

I managed to navigate my way to Full Thread Ahead without incident, and actually got there before the doors opened at 2:00. There were only about 15 people in front of me in line, too, which was a big surprise for me.

I thought I'd be braving the crushing mobs...

I guess knitters can be laid back if they want to be.

Got into the store, and got my book-signing ticket. Woot! I was in the first wave (you were assigned a wave, for which half-hour slot, post-Harlot-chat, you were to line up to have your book signed. Very civilized, I thought. And quite convenient, as I'd sort of told Ken and the kids at noon that I was "...just going to pop down to Los Altos and have an author sign a book that I was reading..." which was already pushing the bounds of their Toleration for Knitting Addiction, and the thought that I might have to phone and say "Well, the Yarn Harlot is speaking at 5:30, and then I won't be able to have my book signed until after 8:00" might have been more than their non-yarn-addled brains could process.)

So then I was floating around the yarn store with a bunch of time to kill, and good golly, WHAT to do with my time....

*looks around innocently*

OK. Three words: Alpaca. Silk. Soy.
(and if you think that translates into only 3 skeins...? Ha!)

I checked my watch as I was cashing out (and picking up the Yarn Harlot's latest book) and I realized that I'd need to move my car (two hour parking slots on the street. Who's idea was that? tsk tsk), so after a quick trip back to the Pilot to unload my new stash, I was off on a little tour to find a 3-hour slot. Under the blazing sun, I actually found a spot that was not only shaded, but was spitting distance from where they were setting up the chairs for the afternoon's talk. So while I watched folks set up rows and rows and ROWS of chairs under the hot-hot sun, I sat in the cool of my car, and organized my knitting bag.


What if I was sitting there, knitting my own business during the chat, and suddenly the Yarn Harlot was beset by mosquitos? I better keep my Off Deep Woods wipes in the bag. Then I could swoop in to SAVE THE DAY....

What if I'm sitting there, knitting my own business during the chat, and suddenly the Yarn Harlot breaks a dpn while she's knitting at the front? I better keep all those stray double point needles in the side pocket of the bag... just in case...

What if I'm sitting there, knitting my own business, and someone makes a comment about Handmaiden Sea Silk? I'd better keep my sea-silk shawl in my knitting bag, so I could pull it out, and let them sniff the wonderful sea-side smells of the yarn...

And so, as I tried to whittle down my 40-pound knitting bag, I was thwarted at every turn. Of course, it was a given that I'd keep three extra sets of batteries in the side pocket. It would be an ABSOLUTE tragedy if I got up to my turn to hold the Travelling Sock, only to have my camera die an unnatural death...

So it was with GREAT difficulty that I only managed to kick 8 skeins of yarn out of my knitting bag before I re-applied the lipstick (gotta look great for the crowd shot that I knew she'd be taking from the podium), and stepped out to prowl the venue and try to get the Best Possible Seat.

Did I mention that the sun was beating down? And that it was still two FULL hours before the talk would begin?

But we knitters, we are made of sterner stuff. This was T-minus 2 hours, and already nearly half the seats are filled. And that doesn't count the first FOUR rows, which were reserved, but for who knows who. I wonder who you had to know to sit in those posh four rows... I could've gotten some GREAT shots if I'd been sitting up there.

And yes, we are all knitting. And many of us (younger) knitters (and I use the term 'younger' with impunity, as I'm lumping myself in that group, when, really, I'm probably past the mid-point, age-wise) had "Hi! My Blog is..." nametags on so we could all find each other's KNITTING blogs.

(good grief! Note to self: Smile more.)
And yes, you'll notice I wore the "look at me! Look at me!" bright red "Canada" shirt. Bold and needy. That's me.

And everyone.... I mean EVERYONE was knitting one of two things: gigantic lace projects out of spider-web silk, or socks.

And if they weren't knitting those things, they were wearing them...

And I suddenly felt VERY out of place. I had no sock. I had no lace.

But I had a DIAPER SOAKER! And it looks VERY much like a sock. An extremely large sock. On steroids.

So I pulled out that soaker, and I started knitting on it, and people started giving me That Look. You know the one. The one that starts off all nice and interested, and quickly shifts through shock straight to pity. It took me back to my days in the hospital immediately after giving birth to Nate, where these new moms would come shuffling down the hallways, proudly pushing their little 5 and 6-pound sweeties, wincing about how difficult the birth had been, bla bla bla, yadda yadda, and then they'd see me standing there with twelve-and-a-half pound Nate, "yes, he came out the natural way, no I was not diabetic, and no, he wasn't overdue" standing there, and I'd get that same look. The "oh, we have something in common... no wait a minute... that thing is HUGE... oh, you poor dear, what did you do *wrong*?" look. Like I hadn't swatched him before I went into labour...

And we sat. And we knit. And the sun beat down all around, all around, and the sun beat down all around.

I think by the time 5:30 rolled around, I was a little puddle. But we were all jazzed when someone peeked out of the balcony above the shop.

And then, after some games and give-aways... (oh put me out of my misery. I won't be winning 'who's wearing their own Potamous socks [the designer was in the audience], or 'who's got the most stitches on their needle' [gotta be finishing a lace shawl to be in the running for that], or 'who's using the most unusual thing as a stitch marker' [stitch markers? What are these 'stitch markers'?]. So just bring on the Harlot, and let us laugh, already!) she came down stairs and the fun began.

First, she had to take a picture of the 400 of us, with her sock in the foreground...

And then she started talking, and really, it was like having her read her blog out loud. She writes just like she talks (or vice versa), and she talks JUST LIKE ME.

Well, ok, she talks just like I used to... before California swept much of my beloved accent out of my speech patterns.

And the sun went down, and all of us who'd been sweating up a storm while sitting in the hot-hot sun, suddenly were shivering with our teeth chattering. And the people who had been knitting on the big bulky projects that I'd been laughing at while the sun was out, suddenly looked nice and toasty warm under their giant mohair lace projects, and I was jealous.

After making us all laugh until we cried, she then retired into the store to sign books.

(for those of you who read her, the closest thing to me is the Dale of Norway sweater that she knit for the knitting olympics, and the next thing (all autumny coloured) is an Icarus shawl that she just finished before coming on this latest tour. I think the designer lived in Utah, and she had to have it to show her). And she's the NICEST person close up. She was even knitting a few stitches on folks' socks if they handed them over. Now THAT would be something....

And then it was MY turn, and I got all nervous and mile-a-minute talking, because I didn't want to take up any of her time, and I knew there were 388 people behind me in line, and I just started rambling, and in my attempt to NOT take up her time, I'm sure I just took up WAY too much time, and probably looked all nervous-stalkerish, and stuff. And I couldn't look at her while I was taking my diaper soaker out of my knitting bag, because I wanted to take a picture of the Petite Ballerina Sock beside the Oafish Sumo Wrestler Sock...

But I still heard her GASP, with a "What the..." as she saw the size of what one would ASSUME would be a sock, and it was all I could do to not say "Why yes, my husband has VERY large.... feet." but instead, I assured her that I wasn't a complete failure in the gauge department, and it was actually a diaper soaker, and not a sock, and I didn't have to let on that I'd never turned a heel in my life, and was afraid to, and that's why I had this, and not a beautiful little petite jaywalker sock to share with her.

(and could I have planned it any better? It's almost like they MATCH!)

And then the store owner took my camera from me, because, in her words "I'm a control freak, and I don't let ANYONE else take pictures here, because I want your picture to be perfect"

I think it's important that I frame my "perfect" picture with the Yarn Harlot. Perhaps with my double chin cropped out.

The sock inspires me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Harlotty Anticipation


I have spent the entire morning flitting around like a moth.

Ooh! Sparkly things.
Ooh. Take a dish out of the dishwasher.
Ooh. Put more laundry in the washer.

OoH! Change into the Marc Teatro "Canada" t-shirt, so that the yarnharlot might notice me at her book signing this afternoon.

ooh! Is that too much? Maybe I should go with the plain turquoise shirt and white cardigan....

Ooh. Wander around and pick up random pieces of should-be-recycled paper, and put them back down again.

Ooh! Gardeners are here. Quickly run out to dismantle the tent that's been airing out in the backyard.

Check watch. Is it time to go line up to hear/see the yarn harlot yet? (She's speaking at Full Thread Ahead in Los Altos this afternoon, and I've had my RSVP in since about 3 minutes after the notice went up on their web site this spring.) Oh man, it is! It's time! And I've not started a sock! Tragedy, truly. I guess the half-finished diaper soaker will have to do, and I'll claim that I'm Achillephobic (afraid of turning heels), and hope that she takes pity on me and still lets me take my picture with the travelling sock. Ooh. Or maybe I'll throw the half-finished Sea-Silk shawl into the knitting bag, and sit in the back row and inhale its surfy goodness.

Knitting bag. Check.
Knitting projects, comma, seven. Check. (You can never have too many things on the go. And besides, the line-up to have her sign my book might be long. I might actually finish something, and wouldn't it be awful if I didn't have anything else to work on while I waited?)
Pen (for her to sign my book). Check.


Oh crap. I knew I forgot something.
Better jet off now and go buy her book. Wouldn't I look like a fool, eh?