Dixie Peach: November 2010

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comes Out Even in the End

Stuff I've accomplished in the past four days:

1. Laundry is caught up except for one load of towels. I'd wash them but I'm out of room on the clothesline. I've been high on fabric softener all day.

2. Printed first day's pattern for the Advent scarf and have resisted starting it. I feel like a magpie that's spotted something shiny.

3. Christmas decorations are all up except for the tree. I save that for third Advent Sunday. I get all sentimental about my Christmas decorations but some of them really need to be retired. Some are shabby looking and some simply make me think "What in the world compelled me to buy that?

4. All the Christmas shopping for my friends and family in the US is complete. When I first moved to Germany this was an especially stressful task. First, I was limited to what I could buy because I had to consider how breakable the item was, how heavy and how easy it would be to pack for international mailing. After purchasing and packing I'd then haul it to the post office and proceed to pay international postage that was more than the sum of the items in the box. Then began the tense waiting until the box arrived. I finally stopped that shit when I had a box never arrive - a box that between the contents and the postage set me back a good $350. Now I shop online and have stuff sent directly to my family from merchants on that side of the world. I don't pay as much postage so they get nicer gifts and I can spend my run up to the holidays not having a stroke over a package that hasn't arrived yet.

5. Pitched a complete fit at my husband. Yelled at him for stuff that wasn't his fault. Felt so awful about it later that I cried my eyes out and offered to let him take away Bastian the iPod for a week.

6. Figured out that Bastian the iPod will fit in the speakers originally purchased for Fletcher the iPod if I would merely take out the adapter piece. I say that I deserve to take the money that I saved by not buying new speakers and sink it into downloading more music as a reward for discovering what should have been obvious to me.

Stuff still not completed even though I've had the past four days to do it:

1. Socks for B's uncle still aren't finished. In fact I've barely worked on them at all. I still have to do another set of decreases before I can even call the gusset finished. I still have a lot of inches of foot left to knit before I can call it finished. And a whole second sock to do.

2. Old TV guides and catalogs still not taken to recycling bin. I'm considering building a summer home from them.

3. Haven't taken the time to walk over to my MIL's and pick up the Christmas treat B's aunt got for us. I asked what it was and B said "It's a Spieldose". I said "That's a music box, right?" and B, in all seriousness, replied "No. It's a box that plays music". Thanks for the clarification, hon!

4. Need to drag myself to the dentist to make an appointment to have a crown put in and then go to the doctor's office to have blood taken. Bring on some more pre-holiday anxiety, if you please.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to work on a sock.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


That's how much of the socks I'm knitting are finished. I always consider that when I turn the heel of a sock - in other words make it so that the part of the sock I'm knitting changes from being vertical to being horizontal - that I'm halfway finished and since it's a pair that translates to a 25% finished project. Really I'm a little more past the halfway point. I've turned the heel and have picked up the heel stitches - in other words attached the back of the heel to the rest of the sock - and am now knitting the gusset decreases - tapering the sock down from being the wide part that goes around your heel to the more slender part that goes around your foot.

By the time this is over you may become quite knowledgeable about the different parts of sock knitting. And if you don't happen to knit socks or even knit at all I can't imagine a more pointless thing to know.

I'll see if I can get a couple pictures of my progress tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anyone Got a Spare Week?

I'm a bit self-centered. I suppose we're all a bit self-centered but my case of narcissistic behavior tends to crop up at times that make me look like an exceptional shit.

And here's today's example:

B's uncle, Gerald, has colon cancer. He was diagnosed in September and it's pretty bad. It's spread, the tumors can't be removed and he's undergoing chemotherapy every couple weeks in an effort to extend his life at least some. It's awful to see how cancer has ravaged him and all the while he's trying to be as upbeat as he can. Gerald truly is a calm, thoughtful man. He loves his books, he loves to listen to opera and symphonies and he likes his quiet life. So one would think that those of us who care about him would put him first, right?

I've failed that test.

Remember how a couple weeks ago I mentioned that I'm trying to knit a cowl for Gabi for Christmas? I've made some headway on it but I changed the pattern and as the cowl grows I can see it's likely going to be too...I be a good cowl. It's a basketweave pattern that tends to draw in the fabric. It's hard to stay interested in a project that's probably not going to be completed so I've put it aside. In the meantime I've joined a knit-along group to make an advent calendar scarf. Instead of each day opening each little door of an advent calendar I will instead get a piece of the pattern for a lace scarf and by Christmas morning I should have a completed scarf. Actually what I will have is a lump of knitting that resembles a pile of limp noodles until I take the time to block it but that's beside the point. The point of the project is to knit the same thing each day that knitters all around the world are knitting, share our experience with it and take time out during the busy holiday season to be restful and still and creative. I figure that to keep up with the project it'll take me somewhere between two and three hours of knitting each day, which is pushing it for me finding free time.

I decided that I really want to work on this advent scarf and then search for a different lace cowl for Gabi and do it for her birthday in January. So that I'd be ready for the first part of the pattern to be given on December 1st I've found the proper needles in my gawdawful nest of circular needles, bought new yarn and have been giving myself a bit of a pep talk each day to convince myself that I can really get this project done by Christmas. I normally have to take long breaks during lace projects because of the frustration that can go along with a lace project. This time I want to plow through it without a pause.

Here's where my character flaw comes in.

Back on the day Gabi was dropping hints about me knitting a cowl for her she also thought that a pair of hand knit socks was just what Gerald needed. I agreed that he could definitely benefit from a pair, what with him losing weight like mad and him being unable to keep himself warm, and while I didn't promise anything, I decided that I'd knit him a pair. A few days later I remembered that I had a pair of socks already finished that should fit him (and Darling Mollie, we maybe need to discuss how I gave away your socks before I could make them to you). Gerald got the socks, they fit, he loves them and I understand he has trouble letting them go long enough for them to be washed.

Tonight Gabi called and again raved about how Gerald loves the socks I knit. They're just the right weight, they're warm, they're comfortable and so on. I love that Gerald loves his socks. It makes me happy that he's got something going right for him during these weeks of a shitload of things going wrong. And if I'd been even sort of perceptive I'd have known that he'd want another pair of socks and I'd have already started them.

I'm not that perceptive.

Gabi has begged for another pair of socks for Gerald. And there's no question that I'll knit them for him. But December 1st - the date my knit along starts - is a week away and under normal circumstances I can only get one sock knit in one week. The selfish side of me is hollering loudly that it's not fair that I have to crank out a pair of socks before I can finally knit something for me. The sane side of me is saying "Shut up. Do you have cancer? No? Then shut up. Just be sweet for someone who's suffering".

If I don't have the socks finished by December 1st I have a few choices. A. I can knit both the socks and each day's piece of the scarf all at the same time and likely become a snarling bitch or B. I can finish the socks and then start the scarf late and perhaps knit two days worth of pattern pieces each day until I'm caught up or C. skip days of the scarf's supposed to be possible that a day's pattern can be easily left out or D. knit like a house a-fire and get these socks finished by December 1st.

I think option D has potential. The socks are simple - it's just straight stockinette stitch. No cables, no lace, no textured pattern. I can give up some spare-time activities like reading and knit every spare moment I have until they're finished. I'm a pretty slow knitter and so getting a pair of socks finished in a week will be one of the biggest knitting challenges I've given myself but maybe a good challenge is what I need.

So how about y'all cheering me on? I'll knit these socks, give y'all updates here and if I'm lagging you can give me a virtual nudge forward. Anything will help. The real advantage is that the sooner they're finished the sooner Gerald can have them because let's face it - he needs all the things he can enjoy that he can get. And I need all the lessons in putting others first that I can get.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Family History

Four years ago I wrote about the relationship I had with my father. Today's would have been my father's 85th birthday and so I dug back in my blog archives to read it. I've done that each year since I wrote it.

In that post I wrote that I don't think of my father each day. At the time it was true. At least I believed it was true. Maybe it was only my perception at the time because now I pay attention to it more and I find that while I likely don't think of him each and every day I probably think of him most days. We'll call it 28 out of 31 days.

As I grow older I look back on the relationship I had with my dad and I find more regret creeping into the mix of feelings it brings. By nature I'm not one who dwells on regrets forever. Oh I regret plenty but I also am the sort who thinks that I can't change it now so why keep stewing over it? I've also found that over the years the regret I feel has changed. It used to be regret over not having the sort of relationship with him that I wanted. That all daughters deserve. I regretted that my dad and I weren't close. That I felt that he was disappointed in me. That I did things that disappointed him. That sort of regret would soon morph into me being angry with him. Anger that some of his disappointment in me was something he could have fixed if he'd just bothered to do it. He was the adult. He had more control that I did. If he was so worried about my grades or my lack of focus or my inability to reach goals then he sure could have stepped up and lent a little guidance. But that sort of anger is like the regret I can't fix now because it's too late. Why lose my mind over something that can't be altered now?

Now the regret I feel when I think about my dad is regret over my not taking advantage of the time I had with him. So many questions I wish I could have the answers to now. I regret not asking him more about his childhood. My dad lost his mother when he was six years old. What sort of effect does that have on a kid from rural Mississippi? Why didn't I ask him about his school years? Ask him about his extended family? I found out recently that his maternal grandmother didn't die until sometime in the 1950s when she was extremely old. There must have been stories about her my dad could have told me. Why didn't I ask him more about the 22 years he spent in the Navy? I know he had some adventures I would have loved to have heard.

Well I know why I didn't ask him these things. Because I was too shy to ask. Because I never felt close enough to my dad to feel as though asking him to tell me stories was an okay thing to do. I hate that feeling. I hate that he never felt close enough to me to volunteer to tell me about his life. I had 30 years with my dad and sometimes it feels as though he is some mysterious figure. If I wasn't there to witness it myself - if it didn't happen in my lifetime - then it's lost to me for good.

But I can't fix that now. And eventually I believe I'll be able to think back on my dad without so much regret. I've put away most of my anger and I'm making place for the regret.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Show Me Your Wares

When I'm home in the US for a visit I find that I have very limited time to watch television and that's understandable. No one wants to fly 5,000 miles to see folks you only see every few years and then spend one's time watching TV. I do watch it though. I like HGTV and try to catch a few programs here and there. I watch the news. And if there's some special program I try to catch that as well. But what I really love to see on TV are the commercials. I'm fascinated by them.

When I first moved to Germany I liked to watch the commercials because they showed me products I'd not seen before or maybe products that I knew but have another name. It's where I learned that Dawn dishwashing liquid is called Fairy in Europe. Downy fabric softener is called Lenor. What we call a Milky Way in America is called Mars in Europe and Milky Ways in Europe are something else entirely. Vicks anything is called Wick because you definitely want it pronounced how English speakers pronounce Vs and not how German speakers pronounce Vs. It's where I learned that canned soups are usually not condensed, hard liquor is advertised on TV and it's possible that you may see a naked butt in a margarine commercial. You're liable to see a naked butt or even boobs in any sort of commercial.

After a while the commercials in Germany became passe and I tuned them out. Then I went back to the US for a visit and my interested in American TV commercials rose and with each subsequent visit my interest only continued to rise. I liked some commercials because they were simply amusing but my interest was really in what they were selling. I didn't want what they were selling but I loved seeing what there was on offer to the American consuming public. There were new products. Improved products. The same old product but with a different packaging or label. There were new stores and services to offer. I could watch American TV commercials and get a mini refresher course in American pop culture. And if I happened to be in the US near a big holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas then I'd get a feeling of nostalgia. There's nothing like seeing a commercials for Cool Whip and Pillsbury crescent rolls to make me think of Thanksgiving.

I have an application on my computer that live streams British TV and what's the thing I like best to watch? The commercials naturally, and for the same reason I like watching them in the US. I just like seeing what they have to offer. I feel like I'm getting a glimpse into ordinary life in Britain when I see what they consume and what shops and restaurants they have and what services you can get. There are lots of products for sale in Britain that you can buy in Germany. Some of them use the exact same commercial - we just see them dubbed in German. It's funny to hear how the jingle for Calgon water softener uses the same tune as is used in Germany but the English lyrics don't fit in quite as well as they do in German. But what I find irresistible are commercials for things that to me are very British. I got such a kick out of seeing an ad for frozen mince pies. It's not something I'd see in Germany or in the US.

Christmas is coming and the commercials for the holiday have already started. I'm nearly as excited to see the ads as I am the special Christmas movies and programs. Too bad that that even the most clever commercial can't sell me their product.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Making Myself Do It

The thing about not writing is that not writing makes it harder to write when you decide you want to get back to writing. And, as it turns out, also seems to make you construct some pretty awkward sentences.

Since I was for well over a year shunning any writing that was any longer than a Facebook status update I feel pretty out of sorts. Idea come into my head but don't seem to form themselves into coherent sentences and I'm afraid if this keeps up I may have to give up all together. Give up before I've even given myself a chance to get started good. So to that end, and if you'll kindly indulge me, I'm going to take some time over the next few weeks or so to just write simple things - stuff with the aim of getting myself into practice. It may be lists of things or maybe just a small memory of something that pops into my mind. Nothing fancy but then again fancy is a word seldom used in reference to me.

They say the best way to learn to write is to write so I'll take that advice.

Fears I'd like to conquer:

1. Riding escalators. A drunken fall down one over fifteen years ago gave me a pretty strong fear of them. It used to be that I'd avoid them at nearly any cost but doing that has become not only inconvenient but embarrassing as well. In the past six months I've gotten better and use them almost exclusively. Riding up one is no trick at all anymore but riding down? I'd like to do it without screaming internally.

2. Kitchen hazards. My husband was a professional chef before his accident. I've heard a lot of stories about what it's like to go to cooking school for a couple years, work as an apprentice cook and then graduate, work as a cook and then actually be the one who runs the whole kitchen. I've also heard lots of stories of how he's cut his hands repeatedly, burned himself and even the terrifying story of how nearly boiling oil was dumped down his leg. All these stories have convinced me that if I went to work in a professional kitchen I'd be fired within an hour. I must have overly sensitive skin on my hands because I shy away from any source of heat. Taking anything out of the oven or off the stove required that I wear the thickest oven mitts I can find. I cannot bear to fry food if my skin is in any way exposed. I wear an old glove to cover my hand while frying bacon. And chopping vegetables takes me quite a while because I'm afraid of cutting my fingers. I can't even fathom using something like an electric slicer.

3. Birds. I have a love/hate thing with birds. Birds that are outdoors, flying around doing their birdy thing are all right. And birds in cages are fine even if I feel sorry for them. The problem is when they want to interact with me. I get a little wiggy if pigeons walk too close to me. Sparrows that land on the same park bench as I'm sitting on are okay but keep your little ass on that side. And heaven forbid I be indoors when a parakeet is loose.

4. Electric drills. I can use them in a desperate situation but all I think about is the drill bit breaking off and flying into my skull. To that end I have to ask someone to come drill holes for me every time I want a picture hung.

5. Climbing ladders. I don't mind heights. What I do mind is my crap sense of balance. I've been skittish about climbing too high since I was in college and stepped backwards off a desk onto a chair that was supposed to be there and was instead there. One trip to the ER and diagnosis of a mild concussion later...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Shuffle - Don't Promise What You Can't Deliver Edition

Once in a while I have to remind myself yet again that there's a reason why I don't knit things as gifts for others. Let me correct that. I knit virtually everything as a gift for another - I just don't knit them as a specific gift for a specific event or holiday. That's because I'm almost always doomed to either not finishing it on time or picking a project that's so irksome to knit that I'll give up in the middle of it.

B's aunt - the one that I switch from being very grateful for to her being the one I'd like to strangle - is one hell of a hint dropper. The other week when she was here visiting she gave me a wink wink, nudge nudge that she's not only like a pair of hand knit socks but she'd like a cowl. Or snood. Or wimple. Or smoke ring. Whatever you prefer to call it. One of those tube-like scarves you wear around your neck and then can pull up over your head like a hood.

Socks are easy to dole out. I tend to have a supply of hand knit socks at the ready. A cowl is different. I didn't let on like me knitting a cowl for her would be possible but after she left and after I kicked around the idea a little I thought that I'd have enough time to knit for her a simple lace cowl for Christmas. She's a pain in the ass to find a gift for anyway so this project would save me all sort of frustrating and fruitless shopping trips.

I found a simple pattern I like. I ordered the yarn - very nice, high end yarn. Even ordered new circular needles because A. I didn't have circular needles short enough for the project and B. I never know where in the hell my circular needles get off to anyway.

I've started twice now to knit this cowl and twice now I've ripped it out. It's not a difficult pattern to knit but it's one that can be easily screwed up by failing to do one increase or one decrease. And goodness knows I despise fixing an error in lace knitting. I despise it even more when I've got 132 stitches in a round to hunt through to find the error.

Finding another pattern to knit - one that's not a lace pattern - seems to be a good alternative but it's got to be one that's going to be able to use this yarn with these needles. I could go with other yarn but these needles will be a must since I really don't have any circular needles that aren't too long to accommodate a cowl that's about 22 inches in diameter. So far I'm not having any luck so the other alternative - make 22 stitch markers, stop whimpering and just knit the lace - seems more likely.

On to other things.

It's likely passe and cheesy to do an iPod shuffle on Fridays but my friend, Jane, likes it. And if I can't give Aunt Annoying her cowl for Christmas the least I can do is give Jane her Friday Shuffles. Plus y'all need to meet my new iPod, Bastian. Let's go.

  1. She's A Beauty - The Tubes
  2. Fallin' & Flyin' - Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell
  3. Affection - The Lost Boys
  4. I Drive All Night - Roy Orbison
  5. The Belgian Tune - Blackbeard's Tea Party
  6. Queen Bitch - David Bowie
  7. Mrs. Vandebilt - Paul McCartney & Wings
  8. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding - Die Toten Hosen
  9. Town Without Pity - Gene Pitney
  10. Selfmachine - I Blame Coco

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Aaaaand Here's Two

I purposely didn't write a blog entry yesterday.

When I made the decision to write in my blog again I realized it would coincide with NaBloPoMo and I'd been an eager participant (and smug...what?...accomplisher?) up until the time I'd went on my self imposed hiatus. The itch to try it again was felt and I found myself talking myself out of it this time around.

A big reason - maybe really the only reason - I stopped writing in my blog was because it became like work to me. All day I would consider things to write about, compose paragraphs in my head that would soon be diluted by the time I actually got around to writing actual words, weigh one topic against another or - worse - find myself with nothing to write about that interested me. Writing is like work at times but it should be work that at the end of it all gives a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and not work that gives the same feeling a burned out customer service representative gets when she's been screamed at for the 400th time about a late payment charge and OH MY GOD CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO MY FAMILY WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THIS 42 CENT CHARGE IS RUINING US?!?!

I told myself that this time I'd do things in my own time. I'd write when I felt like I wanted to and if I really didn't give a shit about writing that would be fine. Challenging myself to write every day even when it becomes painful would only end up pissing me off and make me start hating to write and what would become of us then? I'd be deprived of an outlet for my thoughts, the ability to commune with others and you'd be deprived of reading about...well...the Christmas market or some other selling-fried-cinnamony-dough-snacks street festival.

So I took it upon myself to sabotage myself from the start. Break the streak before one gets started. No NaBloPoMo-ing. And no forced writing. I'm trying very hard to cut out things from my life that feel imposed if their imposition isn't going to improve things for me at all. I want to find the fun that goes along with the work.

And maybe this year you'll get pictures of fried-cinnamony-dough-snacks.

Monday, November 01, 2010

So I Came Back

This thing still work?

So after an absence of nearly a year and a half, blah blah blah know where I'm going with this. I blogged. I got tired of blogging. I stopped. I got to urge to write again. I came back. Your classic a-peach-and-her-blog story.

Life continued even though I failed to document it in words. Since the last time I wrote here a few things happened:

Right after I late wrote here, and I mean within a couple days afterward, my MIL's live in mooch gentleman friend, Gerd, showed his ass on my and B's tenth wedding anniversary. Obviously not literally but close. Metaphoric ass-showing is a no-no with my MIL and within a week she'd told him that he needed to find another place to live. We were elated.

Our dog, Bonnie, developed tumors around her bladder and in May we had to let her go. Putting a pet to rest continues to be one of the worst things in the world one has to eventually face. I cried until it like to broke my heart.

B and I once again became magnets for freak neighbors. The near-constant piano playing from the neighbors above us was one thing but the end was being terrorized by other neighbors. One never knew when yet another fight would break out in the hallway - complete with the smashing of beer bottles against our door. We found another flat that's bigger, more beautiful, in a better location and, curiously enough, cheaper than our old flat. We're on the top floor, I have a nice view of the city, our neighbors are nice, it's quiet here. I love it. And now that I've made that declaration in writing I've probably doomed us.

I lost about twenty pounds. I then gained back about fifteen. I'm thinking of it as recycling.

MIL got back together with Gerd late last winter. She didn't have him move back in with her but he was in her place all the time. My MIL didn't tell us for quite a while but we suspected that he was back on the scene. And as I had predicted at the time Gerd once again showed his ass and get was given the gate one final time. Really final. Changed the locks sort of final. We were elated.

I still knit. Still read a lot. Still get giddy of the idea of the Christmas market (opens on November 22nd...mark your calendars!). Still am ridiculously crazy about my husband.

The really good things never change.