Jesse Tree Update #3

This will be the last Jesse Tree update for this year. I’ve got a handful of ornaments cut out, but I just don’t see Boo being ready yet for getting them on the tree. I’ll have to do most of that and then make him cry when I let him hold it and try to put it on the tree. Stay tuned next year, I already have 20 or so patterns picked, designed, and printed out so we’ll work on them during 2011. It will be a fun project, if we do one a week starting in January, we should have them completed by June or so.

Since we’ll already be playing with felt, I think we’ll also work on his quiet book.


Attack of the Deadlines

Yes, you read that correctly deadlines, there’s an s on the end of that word. I have things to do and I’m running out of time. There is a nasty cold going around this fall that people are saying takes up to three weeks to fully recover and I have it, one down two to go. A week ago Friday I started to feel poorly and it went downhill from there. I was so sick last week I didn’t even feel like knitting or surfing my favorite knitting/crocheting/yarn site or much doing of anything. I’m starting to feel a bit better, but my nose is sometimes draining on to my throat causing me to clear my throat constantly and sometimes I have time to grab a tissue before it drains. Throw in driving to the vet once on Sat, once on Sun and again today and all I can say is I’m behind before I even thought about getting ahead.

    Here’s the list:

  1. Sweater-was supposed to be finished on Saturday, would have been if not for the illness, current status: one sleeve down, one to go and then the bottom edge
  2. Podcast-I had time on my hands to get the first episode recorded, but who wants to hear me while I’m sick, I’m hoping to release the first episode Dec. 1, a full episode, not just an intro. I’d like a promo out by tomorrow but I’m not holding my breath for that one
  3. Jesse Tree ornaments-I have a handful cut out, but I need to sew them together and create a tree of some sort by Wednesday, I also have to put the advent boxes together and hang them so Boo and I can open them.
  4. Super Secret Santa #1-I purchased fabric before I fell ill, but haven’t cut any of it
  5. Super Secret Santa #2-I have yarn, I have a pattern but I need to finish my sweater
  6. Super Secret Santa #3-fiber just arrived today in the mail for me to spin then I have to knit it
  7. Super-Super Secret Project #1-I am fairly certain I don’t have time for this one, it’ll get done, just probably not in time for the Christmas

Are you behind? Are you ahead? What’s your secret?



This has been an odd week for our house. Earlier this week one of my cats, LG, started marking everywhere, he’s a neutered domestic shorthair prone to attitude problems. He’s been known to tell he he’s upset by marking, so I figured I wasn’t giving him enough attention and perhaps Boo Bear was giving him too much. How does one help an active 14 month old boy that while he likes to give loveys the cats don’t want them? I’ve done it by telling him no and encouraging the cats to seek higher ground like the couch and our bedroom. If a cat is in the laundry basket of clean clothes, all bets are off and Boo can give loveys. I turned all the empty laundry baskets upside-down, took away all the boxes and plastic bins that LG thought might have been a useful litterbox substitute.

I know about UTIs in cats and bladder problems, so I stayed on top of his marking, or tried to, it seemed to stop after a day or two of me giving extra attention and corralling the Boo. Fast forward to yesterday when I find he marked a laundry basket with a couple of drops and right in front of us tried to mark on an oven mitt, in a box and a few other places with only a few drops. That’s not an angry kitty, that’s a hurting kitty.

We called the vet, she came in to the office to see us off hours, did some tests and pronounced UTI, a few small crystals and some meds to help clear everything up. I had to isolate him so I could check that he was peeing, which he did but then he stopped keeping food down which happens to both him and his brother if they have antibiotics. By the eight o’clock tonight he hadn’t peed again so back to the vet we went. He’s having a sleepover at the vet’s to clear out his bladder and hopefully get well again.

We’ll be switching him back to his old food to try to get his system back in balance. I’ve spent the last several hours online tracking down the old cat food. I used to special order food through a pet store in GR because the boys are allergic to chicken, we found that Nature’s Variety Lamb & Rice was a good formula had ordered it for 4 or 5 years, then it changed to Lamb & Oatmeal and the store called to make sure that was what I wanted. I thanked them for their diligence and gave them the go-ahead to order it, we went with a certain size bag of that formula for another few years. I place this order every 3-4 months for 7 or 8 years total, always keeping a bag in reserve for possible delays. I last attempted to order it about 6 months ago and waited and waited and waited. I opened the last reserve bag 4 months ago and finally I called the store to see when the food would arrive. The store was unable to order the food and was waiting to try again on the next month’s order but hadn’t bothered to tell me. It turned out to be a packaging change and someone wasn’t smart enough to ask if I just wanted a different sized bag. Someone just decided to keep asking the distributing company for a size that was never going to be restocked or someone from the distributing wasn’t smart enough to find out why the pet food store couldn’t have it. I decided to try to find something in the store that I wouldn’t have to order. That just about sent me over the edge, this is a special order, if there are problems, I need to know. All this to say, I switched the cats to a new food 3 months ago or so and it’s caused LG problems so now I have to switch back to the old one.

I love the internet. I found a lovely place, I hope it’s lovely, that has a few of the old sized bags left and presumably will have the new bags when those run out. Between a nice sale and the place taking PayPal, I’ve got two bags that should be here by Sat. or next Mon. at the latest. What to do with the food the can’t eat, maybe I’ll take it to the food pantry.


Creative Play

The other day I was browsing the blogroll for Nov. 2010 NaBloPoMo when I saw some really interesting art designed with a program called flame painter. I really don’t have words, so here are some of my paintings. I did as the author of the program suggested, I experimented with the settings. There is a limited feature free version available online or a paid version that looks to be less than $15. Be sure to check the gallery of images, there’s an awesome flame dragon.

After making a few paintings of my own, I clicked into the experiments area and can only wonder if I’ll get any knitting done before crawling into bed in the wee hours of tomorrow. If you don’t draw with pen and paper or feel you can’t paint, find a way to simulate the art form. Do it often. Try different mediums, like a paint program online, maybe you’ll find the artist inside yearning to break free. Or maybe you’ll just have fun creating random flames of color like I did. I think I’ll add online art to my list of mediums to play with every now and again.


a review: The Art of Looking Sidways

by Alan Fletcher
reading guide-it is the guide

over 1000 pages of mentally stimulating visual intrigue

a review
I’m a big fan of the library system. I can read more books in a year than I could ever afford to buy. I’ve even borrowed long out-of-print books that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. I received an email from my library about 6 weeks ago letting me know this book was ready for me. When the librarian brought it to the desk my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I requested it based on a recommendation from another site based on a recommendation of another book based on a search of “creativity”. I was hoping to find a book that would give me some simple steps to find my creativity that I used to have as a child but let the educational system and real world beat out of me. I asked the librarian if she was sure it was my book because it looked like the kind of book you get when the library has a textbook rebound. I admit, I was a bit disappointed but since someone went to the trouble of sending me the book via interlibrary loan, the 5.4 pound book(bigger and heavier than my college calculus textbook), I felt obligated to bring it home with me. I’m glad I did, but sorry to report that even after having it checked out for nearly 5 weeks, I’m only 200 pages into it as it’s not a sit-down-and-read-cover-to-cover book. I find that I absorb more by reading a few pages, responding in my journal to anything that’s given me pause and stopping for a few days to contemplate the new ideas.

What in this book am I so chuffed about? Alan Fletcher has collected drawings, photographs, quotes, summaries, and more to present mind-boggling things to readers. Yes, things, you read it right, things. I can’t describe it any better than that. This book has just gone to the top of my list of books to buy because even if I did manage to finish all 1000+ pages of yumminess, I’d just want to start again. I look at a page with 1+1=3 and a wonderful assortment of quotes on creativity and spent hours contemplating each quote and then the places my brain went all on its own gave me hope that I may not have lost all my creativity after all. I love that a thought will begin on page 92 and tie into a thought 100 pages later with a footnote on the first thought to be sure to see the second. And the pages, they are not each number, each pair of facing pages shares one number, so 533 pages is really 1066 pages give or take. And lest you still be wondering about the title, it’s not just a metaphoric looking at things in a new way. I have had to turn the book round and round and round and this way and that to read everything. Not for each page, mind you, but for many there is something written this direction requirement me to turn my head awkwardly before remembering I can turn the book.


Holiday traditions

Do you have holiday traditions?
On Thanksgiving we usually went to my maternal grandparents. It was usually the biggest family gathering we had. One year we had 22 people in my grandparent’s small house.My mom, her two brothers, a couple of spouses, four grandkids, friends and a the grandparents gathered around one long table. It was fun trying to get the butter. I miss family Thanksgiving dinners. This year I stayed home, by myself, with my cats and a cold while Boo and my husband had dinner with his family.

Growing up, we usually cut down a fresh tree in the first or second week of December and decorated it as a family. I loved seeing the familiar ornaments year after year, my favorite were the engraved metal ones that my grandparents would get me every year. Eventually I began to dread those because I no longer went by Debbie, but I still have them and use them and cringe when I pull them out. I was always mystified by families who didn’t up a tree up until Christmas Eve or worse, put it up after the children went to bed. I thought, how sad, it’s a wonderful family activity. Then I had a baby last September. We put up a tree last year because I thought it would be fun for him to stare at the lights but it was work. This year I’m going to wait as long as possible and put the baby play yard gate around it. I may even commit the unthinkable and put it up after he goes to bed. Will that make him more curious about it? If we do put it up, it’s going up in stages, first the tree for a few days, then the lights for a few more and finally the ornaments but only the nonbreakable ones. Between the three cats and Boo there won’t be much of a tree if I don’t.
Does anyone know where I can get indoor barbed wire?


Grade me! another thought on creativity

If you have never met Lisa from the Simpsons, I’d like to introduce you to her. If you’ve met her, you already know and perhaps understand. Lisa is a know-it-all. In her elementary school, as far as we are aware, she is the smartest kid there. She uses her powers to prove others wrong and is a teacher’s pest or pet depending on your view. There is an episode where the teachers go on strike and Lisa is beside herself with grief and concern. How will she learn, what will she learn, who will grade her? She has a small emergency kit of school work in case of prolonged school closure, but the strike lasts longer than the work she’s prepared for herself. Lisa begins to go a little loo-loo trying not to lose the knowledge she has and gain what she can. Cue the following scene:

Lisa: [panting] Grade me…look at me…evaluate and rank me! Oh, I’m
good, good, good, and oh so smart! Grade me!
[Marge scribbles an A on a piece of paper]
[Lisa walks off, muttering crazily and sighing]

I share this episode because it speaks to me. I love to learn school, I was good at school when I felt like it. I still have a nearly unquenchable thirst to know things. I have no immediate plan for any of the information I soak up, but I need to know what I don’t know in case I need to know it. I enjoy Jeopardy but am not good at Trivial Pursuit-it’s the sports. I love tests, no, I don’t run around taking every test I can, but I don’t pass one up when it comes my way. Even the surveys I take are treated like a test and I analyze them as I complete them. I can always tell when the survey is looking for an answer I didn’t pick because my survey ends abruptly and for a moment, I am sad because I didn’t pass the test answer the questions correctly get to finish all the possible questions.

I have thought about completing TKGA Master Knitter program because I liked the idea of someone else looking at 4-6″ samples of my knitting and evaluating me. I wanted to hear someone in some other city tell me I can knit, no, I can knit well. Then when I complete all of the courses I become a Master Knitter with at least $300 less to my name, $300 less if I complete all three courses in a year or more if I don’t. But I will have a lovely certificate telling and everyone else that I can knit.

My high school record doesn’t necessarily reflect my need to show my knowledge because I deliberately sabotaged my gpa in a failed attempt to avoid speaking at graduation. I say failed because the person right behind me did more poorly on accident than I did on purpose. I had my revenge, I didn’t speak and angered several people in the process. I don’t regret it. My college gpa was slightly worse than high school because suddenly I wasn’t one of the smartest, I was at a school where 80% of the student body was in the top 10-20% of their graduating class, I was drowning in smart. I needed to work to make a place for myself, there was no more minimum effort and maximum payoff for me and I’m rarely in the mood to exert that much effort for a pretty paper.

What does any of this have to do with creativity? Not much and everything. For you it may not mean anything, but for me it’s everything. I have a huge desire to be correct, to be right, to be accurate, to be perfect. I don’t like to be wrong, does anyone? I once argued with a roommate over how much I paid for a bottle of shampoo, I had a coupon and the store paid me $0.10 to buy it because it was on sale and my coupon was for more off than it sold for before the days when computers knew it all and wouldn’t let me have it my way. I argued because I needed to be right and I had the receipt to prove it. I won’t even open my mouth to think about entering a debate unless I am 110% that I’m correct, I don’t like to be wrong, I don’t like to admit defeat. Here’s what this personality flaw trait has to do with creativity.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pierce (author)

Something to think about. I don’t know the man, I’ve never read anything his written other than this line. I think he is wise, at least in this matter.

Here is more information on this Simpsons episode.

My new favorite thing of the day

A few years ago I purchased 2 sets of Boye Needlemaster interchangeable needles. I was able to find them on sale at a closeout store and love that I have two of every size from 2 to 15. One major drawback is the cable, all the Boye cables are a bit inflexible and have a weird join that adds to the length of the needle at a weird angle. On regular circular needles, it doesn’t bother me because they are glued together. On my interchangeables, I’m constantly grabbing the key and grip to tighten the join up because my pinky grabs at it and untwists it while I knit. A week or so ago I read a tutorial for making a flexible cable from weed eater cord and a few other parts. I love that Sarah decided it could be done and knew what materials to try. Her post makes it sound as if she tried a lot of things that didn’t work before she settled on what did work. I’m so excited about these new cables. I made a rather long one tonight so that I could try it out on my sweater. If you own a set of Boye Needlemaster interchangeables, I strongly recommend heading over to her site and making some new cables for yourself.

I’m currently working on the sleeves a la magic loop because I didn’t want to make a short cable tonight and a longer one in a few days when I was back to the body of the sweater. It’s been a bit since my last sweater update, I’ve got a lot of length on the sweater. I used up the second ball of yarn left it at an edge and decided it would make more sense to leave the stitches live and head up to finish the neck and sleeves. I followed the pattern for the neck and didn’t like how short/small it looked so I added a few more rows in pattern. Then I started on a sleeve with the plan to finish the other sleeve and try on the sweater while looking at the ball of yarn I have remaining. I should have enough yarn already spun so as long as I plan to leave enough for the bottom edge and bind off. I’m using approximately 8 yards per row so I should be able to accurately plan to make it as long as I want it or use up all the yarn, whichever comes first. I had hoped to finish by Nov. 26th so that I would have make a sweater in 30 days, unofficial NaKniSweMo and all, but I don’t think I can finish my current sleeve, make a second, finish the body and make the ties in 3 days. I knew it would be close and I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. My new target is Nov. 30th so that my final NaBloPoMo entry will show a finished sweater. I’ll plan my sweater making project in 2011 so that it is completed in the month.


Jesse Tree Update #2

Do you have holiday traditions that have been passed down from your grandparents, parents or other family members? Have you created new traditions with your family? A Jesse Tree advent calendar is a new idea to me that I began to research in this post. After reading and reading and reading and talking, we’ve decided to try this out during our holiday season. Last week I went to GR to find materials for our advent calendar. I happily discovered that Hobby Lobby had felt choices galore and on sale. I stacked and stacked and stacked until the pile was so large that Boo couldn’t resist touching and trying to peel stickers off of them. I was so excited to find as many colors in stock as I did. Boo and I are working on ornaments for our tree.
Here’s our plan so far:

  1. For creation, I’m making a globe. I didn’t like the idea of focusing on just one aspect of creation from Genesis 1.1-2.4.
  2. For Adam and Eve from Genesis 2.7-9 & 18-24, I’m making stick modernish people, so the woman looks like she’s wearing a dress. Not historically accurate, but clearly a man and woman.
  3. For the fall of man, I’m making a generic red fruit as depicted in Genesis 3.1-7 & 23-24
  4. For Noah and the flood, I making a rainbow, see Genesis 6-8.
  5. For the tower of Babel, I’m making a ziggurat/tower. Although the tower represents disobedience, without it we wouldn’t have scattered and developed all the cultures. This story is told in Genesis 11.
  6. For Abraham, I’ve chosen the Star of David because he became the father of many nations, more numerous than the stars., Genesis 12-15.
  7. For Isaac, I’m making a stone altar because he trusted his father and God, Genesis 22.
  8. For Jacob, I love the image of the ladder to represent Jacob’s dreams at Bethel of the stairway to heaven to remind Jacob that in time God would allow him to return home.
  9. For Joseph, I couldn’t use anything but his coat of many colors that became the physical manifestation of his brothers’ jealousy. Joseph’s story is in Genesis 37-45.
  10. I have a cute lion which will either represent the prophesy that a lion from the tribe Judah will rule or Daniel’s obedience and punishment of the lion’s den.
  11. For Moses, I am making two. A basket will represent his mother’s (dis)obedience by hiding him in the river and stone tablets to represent his obedience to God by talking to him on behalf of the people. See Exodus 1, 3, 19 & 20.
  12. For Samuel, I am making a candle to represent the lamp of God that was burning in 1 Samuel 3 when God first spoke to Samuel.
  13. For Ruth and Obed, I’m making a stack of wheat because she obeyed God and stayed with Naomi and allowed themselves to be redeemed by Obed after working his fields. See the book of Ruth for this story.
  14. For Jesse, I am making a sheep as he had many flocks his sons had to care for. In 1 Samuel 16, Jesse says he has one more son in the fields with the sheep.
  15. For David, I am making a slingshot to represent his obedience in the face of certain defeat when he went up against Goliath told in 1 Samuel 17.
  16. For Solomon, I am making a crown because he was a wise king, see 1 Kings 3.
  17. For Isaiah, who foretold the Messiah in Isaiah 9, I’m making a scroll with Emmanuel, God with us embroidered on it.
  18. For Jonah, I’m making a whale to remind us of the cost of disobedience with the possibility of redemption when we seek forgiveness. See the book of Jonah.
  • Pictures of finished ornaments and at least 6-8 more symbols to come . . .

I originally thought to glue them down because I didn’t want to invest too much time in something that may not stick as a tradition, but after seeing the sites I’ve linked below, I’ve decided to sew them by hand or machine depending on the size of the pieces. Serendipity has lovely ornaments that I looked at when deciding that my shapes would look like. I linked to the general topic rather than one post because the ornaments span five posts. From this gallery of ornaments, I found a slide show of ornaments (52 images). I’m considering sewing my ornaments down to leaves as well, but I’m not sold on the holly tree look. I love the stitching detail and the idea of the same base on each ornament to bring a unified look to my tree. I love the 3D and texture variety in materials of the ornaments I’ve seen, but for ours I like the simplicity of felt ornaments that will pack flat at the end of the year. I like continuity of materials from one ornament to the next. If I made one from modeling clay, my brain would want them all to be like that. I don’t have enough clay in my stash for that kind of project, nor do I have the time to make a 3D tree and hangers. I can almost guarantee that my ornaments won’t be sewn to leaves this year, but I’m making them to a similar size, around three inches high, so that in the future if I decide to create a base it will be easier.


The holidays are nearing

How are you doing on your holiday projects? Do you have holiday projects? I’m behind, I’m always behind. I procrastinate. I’m procrastinating right now with a warm kitty on my lap and my blog on the computer. A podcast I listen to linked the Christmas Countdown Clock and I love it. If I had a separate computer to show it on, I’d run the clock all day. I like the design of it and it just might spur me on to work a little more productively.