WIPs, FOs, and IPs

I’m struggling (once again? as usual?) to get into a solid exercise and healthy eating routine. As I age, it becomes harder and harder to get the physical body back into good working order after every break from the routine, no matter how short. I’ve found that my reading muscles get out of shape quickly, too. I have to exercise my brain to get it back into deep reading shape; skimming headlines, flitting about the internet, and scrolling thru my twitter feed do not use the same reading muscles as a good novel or non-fiction tome. So despite having finished a solid book of non-fiction essays and started on a great novel, I remain in a bit of a reading funk.

Fortunately I’ve been able to direct a decent amount of energy into knitting lately so I thought it was a good time to share my current WIPs, FOs, and IPs.

WIPs (Works In Progress)

This years Crackerjack panel is almost complete as the Astros have only 4 games of regular season baseball remaining. I have already dug out the contrasting color that I use to indicate the post-season wins and losses since the beloved ones have clinched the ALWest and will be playing in the ALDS starting next week.

I’m also working on a scarf for a niece. (I am assuming that neither she nor her mother is a reader of TFTB, I do hate ruining surprises.) She requested green, but I thought this yarn looked so fun to work with that I couldn’t resist. And there is some green in there…

FOs (Finished Objects)

I’ve finished two projects in the last month. The first is a baby blanket knit on “commission” for D#2 who has too many friends having babies at the same time for her to keep up with handknit gifts.

And since the daughters are of the age that their friends are having babies, I am obviously at the age where my friends are becoming grandparents. So since the dreaded shower invitations keep arriving, I have come up with a cute handmade gift to accompany a book or two and a gift card. I think the crowns are more practical than a hat (at least in Houston), cuter than the usual headband, and appropriate for both sexes.

IPs (Imagined Projects)

I try not to buy yarn without a specific project in mind. I am not always successful. In contrast, I am practically compulsive about saving patterns via Ravelry and Pinterest, most of which I will never make. Sometimes, it all comes together. Here is some yarn that I have scheduled for some projects to get on the needles soon. (One is actually already a WIP, but for a regular reader of TFTB and, like I said above, I do hate ruining surprises.)

All-in-all I’m feeling pretty good about my knitting projects of late. Although as I was pulling together the yarns, patterns, and needles for these IPs, I uncovered a WIP that has been in the works for over 2 years and two IPs that I never got around to casting on. Good thing my knitting muscles are in top shape these days.

Sorry, not sorry

A few weeks back we cleaned out the game closet. First, let me say that it makes me immensely happy to state that we have a game closet in our house. Who wants to store coats or linens or brooms in a closet when you can store GAMES? (Or jigsaw puzzles. We have a different closet for those.)

Once spread out, the contents of said game closet covered the family room floor and tables (the keepers) and also the dining room table (the giveaway pile). We honestly did get rid of a lot of games, though I know we kept some that we’ll likely never play. We kept some classics that I just felt we should keep. We kept some kids games just for the sake of the happy memories. We kept plenty of party games even though we pretty much never entertain and play group games anymore. We jettisoned games that we never really enjoyed, games that were too similar to another game that we like better, and games that were no longer in playable condition.

There was no marital strife involved. One ‘yes’ vote was all it took to keep a game. Two ‘no’ votes sent it to the to-go pile.

And deep in the bowels of the game closet, a treasure was found.

Mountain Climb is a game that I bought for the kids from Hearthsong. Back in the day, this catalog company was known for high quality, unique, and classic toys and games. Google tells me they are still around with an updated website that doesn’t at all resemble the quaint catalog I remember.

The daughters didn’t really care for Mountain Climb. I’m not sure it was ever played after that Christmas break of so many years ago, but the husband plucked it off the dining room table saying, “I think I liked this one. Let’s hang on to it until we read the rules and try it once.”

Before you can fully appreciate the joy that this game brings to me, you need to understand how much I like the game Sorry! In Sorry!, each player (2, 3, or 4) has four colored tokens and the goal is to get them around a board from START to HOME. On a turn, a player draws a card which indicates how they can move one of their tokens – usually forward the same number of spaces as the number on the card, though some numbers allow special moves. Basically, that’s it, except that if your token lands on a space occupied by another player’s token, that player has to move his token back to START. Proper etiquette requires you to always say (shout, exclaim, etc.) SORRY! when this happens, usually accompanied by a sweeping motion of your token to clear the space. Yup, it’s really simple. Yup, it’s for ages 6 and up. Yup, there’s almost no strategy, although there are choices to be made on most turns. But everybody has an equal shot at winning and it never struck me as inane as some kids’ games.

One of my better parenting moments was instituting family game nights when the kids were in elementary school. Monthly for close to a year, and then occasionally afterwards, we had a family game night. Dad was required to be home on time. Friends weren’t invited. Pizza and a special dessert were served. We took turns picking what game to play next and we solemnly vowed to willingly play whatever game was picked. I’m sure I picked different games, but the daughters remember me always picking Sorry!

Back to the present day. Husband read the rules for Mountain Climb and said, “It’s 2-person Sorry!” At that point he was ready to donate it and I was all like, “Let’s play!”

Each player has five tokens that travel up the wooden board in a straight line. The goal is to get all five of your tokens to the top of the board. Token movement is determined by the roll of die. Basically, that’s it, except that when your token lands in a hole occupied by a token of the opposing player, you get to push his token out of the hole and he has to restart it at the bottom. We have not yet determined what is considered proper etiquette when this happens – various exclamations of glee are currently being used. I’m hooked. It’s small, aesthetically pleasing, doesn’t take long to play, and I’ve won a solid 80% of the games played against the husband.

Sadly for all of you, Mountain Climb is no longer sold. And I’m not parting with it.



Early this year, the husband and his siblings made the call to move their mother from her home in Florida to a senior living facility in Houston, near to where two of the four siblings live. We all sincerely believe this is a good decision, but it was not a decision that my mother-in-law made on her own. From finding a place to everything about the move, we pretty much had to do it all, much more FOR her, than WITH her. This weekend she moved in to her new home.

This is a woman who I consider fearless. She loves travel, adventure, and trying new things.  She’d take on anything that was asked of her. She left her small town Louisiana home without ever looking back. First to college and then with her new husband to Texas. With four kids in tow, she didn’t think twice about uprooting the family and heading to Florida. She taught in a small Catholic school where she had to learn the subjects as she was teaching them. She tried zip-lining, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling for the first time in her seventies. Travel to foreign countries and language barriers never phase her. She meets people and makes friends everywhere she goes.

She put on her bravest face yesterday as we welcomed her into her new home and there was only one time when I saw her resolve fade. The tears came, accompanied by those simple words that speak volumes, “I’m scared.”

Personally, I am fear averse. It is a base emotion that I never tap into willingly. I find no, none, nadda, zippo, zero entertainment value in haunted houses, scary stories, or horror movies. Fear is so often accompanied by a lack of control. So when I can, I say NO to scary things. I try to research, learn, and understand scary situations to keep fear at bay. Sometimes I replace the fear I’m feeling with anger.

I’m sure that my mother-in-law does not feel in control of this situation. Giving up her car and moving were not her decisions. Others are dictating her life style right now. And she is coming to terms with the fact that even her own, usually fearless mind is showing signs of betraying her with dementia. Hopefully time will ease her fear and she will embrace her newest life adventure. Hopefully she will learn her way and understand that she does still have a lot of control of her life. Hopefully her fear will not turn to anger and resentment. Hopefully having the guts to admit when you are truly, deeply scared is the first step to conquering fear.



Roaring with pride

D#2 is a LION.

Yesterday she completed the BP-MS150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. It is a 2-day, 150+ mile ride that raises money for Multiple Sclerosis research and programs. It’s a really big deal for the MS Society, their largest of many similar rides around the country in both number of participants and amount of money raised. This year they allowed 13,000 riders and have raised over $10 million, per their website.

Much about this venture took D#2 out of her comfort zone.

Our family is not known for being athletes, and she did not break that mold. (I was going to type, “athletes don’t run in our family,” but it goes deeper than that.) Yet she decided to “become” a bike rider and committed both time and money over the last 6 months to properly equip herself and train for this.

She went into it on her own. There was a group of ladies who signed up together, but she was the only one who stuck with it.

Despite a general reluctance to sell things or ask people for money, she far exceeded her fundraising goals and never lost sight of the true purpose of the ride.

It’s not an accomplishment that I ever envisioned for her. And that makes me even prouder of her.

I am proud of both my daughters; in their academic achievements, in the women they have become, in their life choices, in their friend choices, in their compassion, in all their successes thru the years. A friend once confided in me that the first time her mother ever said she was proud of my friend was after the birth of their first child. I was stunned. I hope the daughters know how proud I am of them, I hope I have told them early and often. They are indeed my pride and joy.

Today I am busting at the seams with pride for D#2. For setting an impossible-sounding goal and achieving it.

She is a LION! Hear her (make me) ROAR!

Top of the third

Baseball!! The 2017 season is underway, giving me a joyful diversion from the rest of life. My beloved Astros have a legitimate shot at winning their division while my formerly beloved and World Series winning Cubs are hoping to twist the always beloved Ernie Banks’ quote into, “It’s a beautiful year for baseball, lets win two!” My fantasy? Astros win the Series over the Cubs in seven.

Besides my annual shrine to the Baseball Gods, the other thing that makes an appearance at the beginning of baseball season is the crackerjack blanket. Crackerjack was originally a conceptual pattern for knitting a baseball season into an infinity scarf. The idea is that you use four colors of yarn to represent home/away wins/losses and knit a row or two of the appropriate color for each game in the season. I had so much fun doing this for the 2014 Astro season that I decided I wanted to do it every year. Since I don’t have the need for multiple orange/blue/yellow/gray scarves, I decided to make a crackerjack blanket. Each year I knit a striped panel and at the end of nine seasons (innings) I will sew them together into a blanket. April, 2017 means the beginning of the third inning of the crackerjack blanket. Here’s hoping for a preponderance of orange and yellow.