Monday, August 30, 2010

Mystery #4 Updated

Really, I meant to post this all weekend, but was too busy having fun with Mr. Right (before he left town again this morning - sigh) to spend much time online.  Last week, I finally tracked down the DEA agent featured in Mystery #4.  Remember him?  He's no longer with the DEA, but working in the private sector in a high profile job (high profile enough that I was able to leave a voice mail for his secretary, which he returned within the hour.  Stellar guy, really.  He remembered corresponding with my mom, but didn't remember sending her my grandparents' marriage certificate.  I scanned everything, (his letter, the picture, the document) and emailed it to him.  He emailed back the next morning with his cell phone number (really, super stellar guy). 

It turns out that my grandparents, these folks here, were not married in Columbia.  They were, instead, married in Mexico.  And the DEA agent in question did not mail my mother the marriage certificate.  Instead, she stuffed it into the envelope.  This is still pretty weird -- why did my grandparents get married in Mexico?  They were NOT globetrotters, and as far as I knew trotted farther than Phoenix (from Southern California) a total of once for a vacation in Hawaii.  Also weird, how did my mom come to be pen pals with a DEA agent in South America?  I'm thinking of asking him this, but he's been so nice I don't want to seem like I'm accusing him of anything.  It's just a curiosity, you know?  We'll see if I can work my courage up this week.  I also want to ping cousin #2 and see if she remembers anything about why my grandparents ran away to get married.  At least Grandpa wasn't some sort of drug king pin.  That's a relief...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flash Your Stash Friday

Okay, just a quickie today since Tami, of Work in Progress Wednesday fame has decided to host a Flash Your Stash Friday.  How could I possibly pass that up?  I could not.  So I'm neglecting every single thing I should be doing at the moment and photographing my yarn.  That's sane, right?

Anyhow, Flash Your Stash is an annual thread on Ravelry, and this was my first year participating (coincidentally, also the first year I had any stash to flash).  Here's what my stash looked like on April 1:

Hmmph.  Flickr isn't cooperating with me sharing that photo, so you'll have to live with its teensy-ness for the moment.  I'll see if I can get it fixed this weekend.  Sorry!  And now, here's my stash as of today:

I thought it was so much bigger now, but really it's just pretty different, and better quality yarn.  From the April stash, the aqua blue became a cardigan, the periwinkle blue was gifted to my neighbor, the variegated wine-colored stuff on the top right became a short sleeve cardigan and the silvery green stuff found a new home at a garage sale.  Not a bad turnaround for 4 months!

Back to the family stuff on Sunday... I'm doing more digging this weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.3

Okay, technically, it's actually late on the evening of "Tinking Tuesday", which is lots less fun than Work In Progress Wednesday, but I have to go pick up Mr. Right from the airport (yay!) tomorrow night, and am experimenting with the whole post-this-later feature on Blogger.  We'll see how it goes...

I made lots of progress on Avast over the weekend in Albuquerque, but had to stop at 16" to make sure the armholes will be in the right place and I need Mr. Right for that.  So here it sits, looking like this:

Not bad for a couple of weeks.  I'm looking forward to starting the armholes and knitting some sleeves and doing something slightly more interesting than miles of stockinette.  It is nice once in a while to be able to knit and think entirely about other, more interesting stuff -- like what's for dinner, or how this episode of X-Files is going to end (I <3 Netflix!).

Since I've had to set the sweater aside, I decided to start on those Hedgerow socks I mentioned last week.  I don't have much to show yet, but it's a start.  So far, I have one cuff and one 4-row pattern repeat (minus the 2 rounds I've had to tink back...) done.  Here it is in all its glory...

I have a few things to share about these socks.  First, a public service announcement for anyone considering knitting charcoal sock yarn on size one ebony needles -- DON'T.  If I'm not blind by the end of the week, it will be a minor miracle.  Yeesh.  Secondly, this isn't the most fun pattern in the world to knit.  The rows are only slightly different, which leaves me muttering the stitch pattern (sometimes out loud, some times in my head) to myself over and over and over.  I suppose it will sink in eventually.  But the flip side is that they're super cute, and if I like wearing simply patterned socks, which I do, then I should learn to live with it. This must be what they're referring to when they talk about suffering for one's art...

Can't wait to see what everyone else has been working on this week! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mystery #2, Solved Sadly

My mother kept just about every letter everyone ever sent her (except for anything that might help me figure this stuff out -- that she tossed).  When she died, I went through tons of correspondence.  Congratulations from her high school graduation, Christmas letters from eons ago, baby cards from my birth, all sorts of stuff. She looks fairly proud of herself, doesn't she?

Anyway, I also ran across a letter from her cousin.  Odd, as I didn't know she had a cousin.  I pulled the woman's contact info from my mom's address book and stashed it.  For about 4 years.  When I finally got up the courage to call this cousin I didn't know existed, the number was disconnected.  More Internet searching ensued.  I finally found her on (no linky since they drive me crazy with spam email...), held my breath and sent her a note.  She responded right away, and was lovely.

It turns out she's my grandmother's cousin, not my mom's.  That means my great, great grandmother (Gammer to all of us) was her grandmother.  She was surprised when I asked her about Gammer's suicide, but called another cousin (family everywhere!  this is awesome!) and checked.  Apparently, it's true.  This beautiful lady...

pictured here with her husband and 3 oldest children, took her own life at the age of 84 because her sons (the boy with the fancy tie up there, and another son not yet born at the time of this photo) planned to put her into a nursing home.  It's an awfully sad story, but definitely reflects her character (at least as I imagine it was).  Gammer lived her life on her own terms, fighting through all sorts of craziness as she went.  She died the same way.  I think she'd be glad to know her daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and great-great granddaughter were all fighters too.

Now, I want to learn more about her, and the other folks in this photo.  The girl on the right is my great grandmother, age 12.  Her littlest brother Max, age 3, died shortly after this picture was taken, but I don't know how or why.  Her little brother James grew up and had a family, but I don't know anything about them.  Hoping to hear more stories from the cousins soon, and promise to report anything interesting that comes up!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Home again, after a super fun weekend in New Mexico.  One of my oldest (since 3rd grade!) and dearest (pretty much family at this point) friends had a Big Deal this weekend so I went to go visit.  A is something of a social worker extraordinaire.  She's started a movement in NM to recognize and quell teen dating violence.  And really, I'm so proud of her, I could pop.  Anyway, she's starring in a documentary on the subject which premiered in Albuquerque on Saturday night.  And I got to go with, which was lots of fun.  The subject matter is pretty dark, but it was inspiring to be in a room with so many folks who are working passionately to do somethng about it.  Awesome.

Apart from attending glamorous movie premieres (did I mention that it was held at the Presbyterian Health Center?  Fancy!), we stuffed our faces with Brazilian BBQ, saw Eat Pray Love (fun and pretty, if not epic filmmaking), and visited Mecca.  Behold:

There is nothing that makes the heart of a transplanted California girl go pitter pat like the sight of a Trader Joe's.  It's also rather lovely that Southwest lets you check bags for free.  I bought salted sesame flatbread, and cherry jam and blueberry jam and a barrel of olive oil and scones and...  Well, enough other stuff that the TSA agent at the airport pulled me aside and had to rummage through all of it.  I think he was just trying to sneak off with my scones...

We also took in a peewee football game, where A's 10 year old did a bang up job playing 3 or 4 different positions, laid around a fair amount, knitted a bunch (really, that was just me) and spent some quality time with Lola:

Isn't she beautiful?  Lola is 8, and thrives on petting.  Unless it's someone else who's being petted, in which case, she's really not on board.  Lola shares her house and her people with 3 cats (none of whom would agree to pose for pics), but she's she'll be the first to tell you she's really the star of the show. 

All in all, an excellent weekend.  But I was very glad to come home to this:

Really, how could I not be?  This is my dog.  My old, sweet, needy, goofy dog.  And that big fat thing on her leg is a fiberglass cast, which she earned by cutting her foot (severing 2 tendons and ripping the muscle in the process).  Sigh.  The good news is that the stitches came out today, and the new wrap is electric purple (very chic).  The bad news is that she'll be sporting it for 4 more weeks...

Back to family stuff tomorrow -- I have a few answers to share!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.2

Wow, that was fast!  It's Work In Progress Wednesday (WIPW).  Again.  And since it was so much fun last week, and since it motivated me to knit like a fiend (or as much like a fiend that someone with a full time job and 2 hours a day in the car can knit), I'm up for another round! 

If you'll recall, last week's WIP looked a lot like this (pretty much exactly, in fact)...
And now (drum roll, please!), it looks like this:

Ta da!  Okay, it's not a ton.  But at least there's some progress, right?  I'm thinking, if I'm going to keep up with this whole WIPW plan, I'll need to have at least one more project on the needles.  For variety's sake.  I mean, I have to think of my readers, right?  I'll take one for the team, I guess.  Come to think of it, I do have some sock yarn calling me.  It's this:

And I'm thinking it might want to grow up to be these.  Cute, no?

They'll have to wait a bit, though.  Tomorrow, I fly off to Albuquerque to visit one of my best friends from 3rd grade for the weekend, while Mr. Right flies off to visit his folks.  Good times shall be had by all.  At least that's what I'm hoping and praying...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Those Crazy Family Mysteries -- Part II

I think I needed a few days off to get a second wind with all this wacky family stuff.  It's all very interesting from far away, but it's a bit weird when it's the folks who tucked you in at night.  You know?  Anyway, here are the rest of the skeletons, fresh from the closet...

Mystery #4
My Grandparents Did WHAT?

See these people over there?  They were my heart.  They spoiled me rotten (I was their only grandchild), and doted on me.  Grandpa was from Kansas.  He fought in WWII, spent some time in the military after that, and then became a bearing salesman.  Exciting, no?  Grandma was a California girl who worked as a secretary.  They lived in southern California when I was little, and always had (except for a couple of years in Arizona).

Imagine my surprise when, in digging through my parents' papers, I found a letter to my mother from a DEA (yep, that's the Drug Enforcement Agency) agent.  It was a long, handwritten thing discussing in detail a piece of art that they had talked about, complete with picture.  Weird.  Weirder?  Also enclosed was my grandparents' marriage certificate.  From Bogota.  Colombia.  Wait, what?  My grandparents got married in the drug capital of the world?  What the heck were they doing there?  Why does a DEA agent have their marriage certificate?  A quick search of the 'net tells me he's still around.  An answer might be just an email away.  So why is it so scary to send it?  I will, though.  Really.

Mystery #5
Grandpa's Car Accident

When I was 8, my grandpa (the guy who used to climb up on the roof on Christmas Eve, horseshoes in hand, to clop around so that I could hear reindeer hooves), was killed in a car accident.  Mom said he was coming home from work and his car veered off an overpass.  He died in the hospital about a week later from complications related to his injuries.  Sad. 

Back to my parents' office... I found Grandpa's death certificate.  It said his car hit a tree.  No mention of an overpass, and no explanation.  Why the discrepancy?  And how did this happen in Orange County in the middle of the afternoon?  With no witnesses?  I'm not sure there's any way to solve this one, but maybe the DEA guy will be able to shed some light.  Maybe Grandpa was some sort of bearing-selling super hero in disguise.  It'd be nicer than thinking his life got cut short for no reason at all.

That's pretty much the extent of it.  At least as far as I know now.  I'm sure there will be at least a few more that pop up as I dig into all of this.  Here's hoping they're neither as weird or as scary as some of these. 

For the moment, I'm going to pick up my knitting for a while.  I'm a little bit obsessed with having some good progress with Mr. Right's sweater to report for this week's Work In Progress Wednesday.  No, I'm not competitive at all, why do you ask?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Those Crazy Family Mysteries -- Part I

As promised, here's a glance at all those family mysteries I'm working on.  But first, a little bit of history:  I'm my mom's only child.  My dad was much older (19 years or so) than my mom and had 3 mostly grown kids when they married.  He was sick pretty much my whole life and passed away when I was 7.  Mom remarried almost immediately.  Then (anyone else seeing a pattern here?) remarried again about 2 years later.  She was married to this one -- my step dad -- until they died a few years ago about 4 months apart.  That's when the real fun started, with the cleaning out of the house.  Here's what we found:

Mystery #1
My mom was married how many times??  Look at that sweet little face!  Who'd have guessed she'd be married 5 (!!) times??  Not me, that's for sure...

Two of my best guy friends landed the unfortunate task of cleaning out the papers in the den, and set to work sorting papers into keep and toss piles.  Mr. Right and I were working in the kitchen I think, when, at 15 minute intervals, one of my friends began shouting, "I found another husband!".  Seriously.  After the 2nd declaration, we had to stop and go for dinner.  There may or may not have been a margarita involved.  I knew Mom had been married 3 times (seemed like plenty to me), but it turns out my father was #3, not #1.  She married the first time when she was 16, divorced and married again at about 18.  They divorced when she was about 21.  And she never. said. a. word.  Not ever.

So, the questions at hand are:  Who were these guys?  Why did she get married so young? 

Mystery #2

My biological grandfather did what for a living?

When I was in college, my mom and grandmother were talking and let it slip that Grandma had been married to someone before Grandpa, and Hubby #1 was my mom's biological father.  As the story goes, he wasn't a great guy and was heavily involved in organized crime.  Seriously?  I always thought this picture of my grandma (it's my favorite, isn't it great?) was a Halloween costume or a joke.  Maybe it was just a candid family photo?

The questions at hand:  Is this true?  What's his story?  Is he still alive?  I have a name, so it's time to start doing some digging on the ol' interwebs...

Mystery #3

My great-great grandmother died how?

Family history says that my great-great grandmother on my mom's side committed suicide well into her 80s.  This was a lady who'd come to California in a covered wagon, raised a whole pile of kids (3 or 4 at least), and been married at least two (likely 3) times. What on earth would bring her to end it all at that late date?  Here's a picture of her with 3 of her children, my great grandmother (aka Nana), and 2 great, great uncles...

She's the cute old lady in the chair.  I want to know why she decided to make an early (does it count as early if you're 80 something?) exit.  I have a few leads on extended family to chase down.  I'm hoping one of them will remember her.

And that is it... for now.  I have at least 3 more mysteries to chase down, but I'll save them for another time.  Since it appears that the earlier generations of my family have squeezed all of the exciting (read dramatic) genes out of our blood line, I'm off to pack up leftover tuna casserole for Mr. Right and I for lunch tomorrow.  What can I say, it's my fate!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday

Apparently, I've started blogging right in the nick of time.  Tami, (aka hpseeker4 on Ravelry) has just started a feature called WIP (work in progress) Wednesdays, and invited all of us blogging ravelers to join in.  What a cool idea.  I'll play! 

Here's what I have in process at the moment -- first, and very nearly done (just 3 buttons and a bit of unpinning away), is the Katrina Ballerina Lace Layering Cardigan (another Ravelry link), by Nicole Feller-Johnson.  My project page is here.
This was my first top down pattern, and really fun to knit.  The yarn is a fabulous wool/soy blend which is super soft and does this really cool striping business.  I love it.  My only gripe is that this is clearly meant to have some shirt-type thing underneath it (the last button is mid-chest), but it's sized super small.  As gripes go, it's not a huge one (a good blocking seems to have done the trick), and I'm really excited to wear it once the temperature drops below 80 or so.  Should be any minute, right?

On to the next!  I must confess.  I'm knitting a sweater for my boyfriend.  As any good knitter knows, this is risky business.  The Boyfriend Curse clearly states that if you attempt to knit a sweater for your boyfriend before you're married (apparently this applies to engaged couples, too), you'll break up before you're finished with it.  To this I say, Bah!  We're incredibly happy, and have been together for more than 4 (!) years.  I predict we'll make it through.  You heard it here first.  Anywho, here's the progress so far:

I know, right?  It doesn't look like much.  The pattern is called Avast, and what you (kinda - sorry about the bad picture!) see here is the cabled band that runs around the bottom.  It's a pretty cool design which involves knitting this skinny little cabled band (14 stitches across), then turning it sideways, picking up approximately eleventy billion stitches, and knitting up from there.  Hopefully, it'll look a bit more substantial by next week.  The (currently pretty puny) project page is here.

With that, I'm off to sew a couple of buttons onto that sweater up there so I'll be all set for FO Friday.  Kidding!  I think...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And away we go!

Hi.   Welcome to my little slice of blog-o-sphere.  This is me:

Actually, it's me and my mom.  And it was a really, really long time ago.  Mom let me pick out my own glasses, which I chose because they were blue (and sparkly!), and they looked like hers.  I wish you could see the blue and sparkly part.  It would make it a lot easier to understand my fashion sense.  Did I mention that I was 4?

Anyway, that's my mom.  As her only kid, I thought I knew everything about her.  And when she died, I discovered that I was mistaken.  Seriously mistaken.  She's the source of several of the family mysteries I'm planning to dig through here.  And believe me, there are some humdingers. (She had how many husbands?)  Hopefully, I'll get to know her a little bit better in the process.  More on that later...

 More recently, I've discovered that I'm an obsessive knitter.  It was all nice and recreational -- a hat here, a scarf there -- until I found Ravelry at the beginning of this year.  After that all bets were off.  If you knit, and don't know what a ravelry is, run over there and register.  It'll blow your mind.  Now, I knit every day.  I have a list of projects as long as my arm and it's all I can do to keep it from growing on a daily basis.  Really, what I'd like to do is quit my job and take up knitting full-time.  It's just that pesky salary business that keeps getting in the way.  Ah well.

Here's a peek at my latest accomplishment.  It's a hat for me, and was a pretty fun knit.  The flower is crochet, which was less fun, mainly because I don't quite know how to crochet.  Still, I think it turned out pretty well..

The pattern is Virna, and my project page is here (both are ravelry links that require registration). 

Oh, and one small caveat:  I've really got absolutely no idea what I'm doing here, so hang in there with me while I fumble around in the dark for a bit.  It'll get better.  I'm almost sure of it.