Monday, March 31, 2008

Livin' My Life in Cars

My car had a 2 night, $270 a night, all expenses paid trip to Northeast Muffler while we were on vacation.  Truth be told, it actually had about a two week vacation.  I hadn't driven it since March 14.  I knew it had a little bit of an oil leak (okay, and the hood release was broken too), but the fine folks at Northeast Muffler looked it over last Thursday and let me know that it actually had several leaks.  Because I live in the country, NM had to order the parts from Saturn on Thursday and couldn't do the dirty work until Friday.  When Cindy gave me the bad news, I told her I'd prefer to leave the car there overnight because I'd probably have to put in 4 quarts of oil just to get it home and another 4 quarts of oil to get it back.  She said "Yeah, you're pretty much pouring the oil on the ground at this point."  You have to love the automobile repair professionals...such funny people.  

I've been trying to understand my negative relationship with cars.  Perhaps it's because I have only owned one new car in the time I've been driving; perhaps it's because I live in the country, where things that go wrong often go very wrong.  Your car doesn't just break down on the road; it breaks down in the middle of nowhere where there's no cell service (though the advent of the cell phone has made me a little more comfortable about driving).  Also, the distance from where I live to just about anywhere that anything interesting happens is a minimum of 45 minutes.  Sure you can get to Freshtown or the Post Office or even to Millerton to Oblong Books, but you're pretty stranded without a car; if you're me, and you don't like to ask for help, you're definitely stranded.  In any case, I rarely drive anywhere without feeling slightly apprehensive about what could happen.   

As my parents often point out, I seem to enjoy making my life more difficult for myself.  I knew by March 14th that I had to get the car taken care of ASAP, but I waited at least another week before I called to make the appointment, knowing full well that I would not drive my car until I got it fixed.  I suffer from an anxiety disorder, and by waiting, I got to keep the car anxiety close to the forefront of my brain.  Maybe the anxiety I can control is preferable to the anxiety I can't control?  And then there is the anxiety that is bound up in the possibility that the garage will find more wrong with my car than I ever anticipated, and that has happened more times than I care to remember.

I don't know that I will ever overcome these car issues.  It's a ridiculous manifestation of my anxiety because I'm not exactly sitting at home in comfortable denial while my car is off the road.  I feel powerless and dependent and stupid.  I want my car to be safe, I want my family to be safe in my car, and I do not care to be stranded on the side of the road with a hungry toddler.  This summer, we're planning to buy a new car because neither of our vehicles is really large enough at this point to cart our stuff around.  We couldn't go camping right now if we tried, for example.  Plus, I'm beginning to think the average Saturn is made to last about 8 years, and mine is a 2000.  This time I'll buy an automatic so we can both drive both cars (clever, hunh?), and maybe I can convince my husband to take on the care of my car (it's worth a try).  In the meantime, there's still a rattly noise underneath that is probably going to earn my Saturn another little vacation soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Be It Ever So Humble

We all survived our longest separation yet (two nights). I had pangs as we drove away from Poughkeepsie, leaving Duncan in the capable hands of his grandparents. There was a tiny hole in my heart where I could sample what it would feel like not to have him; I didn't dwell there longer than necessary. I think that all Jamie and I did for two days was sleep and eat (I didn't even knit so there was NO progress on the sage green mystery garment); it was strange not to be tired. I realized that I use tiredness as an excuse for virtually everything, and when it is removed from the equation, I have to think a little bit harder about my motivations. Contrary to my hopeful longings, it did NOT feel like Bermuda when we returned. It is rainy and gloomy, but the spring bulbs are definitely working theirway up toward the unseen sun.

Duncan was an angel for Grandpa and Grandma Martin, but he was excited to see us on Wednesday. That is a hug I will carry with me for a long time...until it is replaced by another so memorable. What's interesting is that Duncan spent the next 24 - 48 hours testing the limits of his parents - as if he wanted to see if the rules had changed in our absence, or if we had been replaced by pod people. I think all is back to normal now. We are being protected by the Little People Professional and Volunteer Fire Brigade today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring at the Deerhill Inn

Spring is a little far behind in Vermont.  If you didn't have a calendar, you wouldn't know spring from just another winter day.  I'm not sure why we like to come here during March because it's like stepping back two weeks in time.  Mostly, we like that it's quiet; we have the entire inn, almost the entire town, to ourselves.  Our innkeepers upgraded our room since we're the only visitors, and the service is incredible.  Amenia will seem like Bermuda as we drive back down the mountain and head into New York.  

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Three Batches Of Cupcakes Later

Whew! In case you thought we were all work and no play this vacation, we just finished Duncan's Whirlwind Birthday Tour: 3 batches of cupcakes, 2 pairs of grandparents, 2 aunts, 2 uncles, 2 cousins, 1 Easter bunny, and a partridge in a pear tree in 8 days. Thank you to everyone who helped to usher in his 3rd year; he is well on his way. And honestly, I don't think I can look at another cupcake for a while.

The stealth knitting project is on an upswing. I was, indeed, doing the yarn overs wrong so now I have managed to knit two buttonholes and finish the right side. Hopefully, during our upcoming trip to Vermont I can finish the right side and the left side. NOW we're cooking with gas!

Guess what we found outside today? No, guess! Crocus! As soon as I get a chance I'll upload the picture that was taken just before my darling boy crushed them with his delicate touch in a scene reminiscent of Of Mice and Men. Usually he's good about "GENTLE," but I think he was just too excited to be outside enjoying some much-needed sunshine.

Does anyone else find my focus on math in this blog to be a bit odd, considering I teach reading? Just wondering. Meanwhile, there's one more cupcake that didn't fit into the container...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fifth Amendment

Hm.  I have played more with the comments.  Using my various "non gmail" addresses, I was able to post an anonymous post and also one labeled with my name (no e-mail necessary).  If you choose Name/URL under "Choose an Identity," you can type in your name; URL is optional so just leave it empty (unless you have one).  I hope this helps someone.  I seem to have about two readers, both of whom now have gmail accounts, but maybe others will want to read and comment.

Tearin' It Up In Amenia

We know how to party here in Amenia. We spent yesterday engaged in some long overdue house cleaning, which was, again, no fun for anyone. The dust bunnies threatened to grow into Easter bunnies, and much of our yard had moved indoors. I was questioning whether the bathroom was sanitary enough for my child. Everything is clean and lemony now.

Furthermore, high on our success with purging Duncan's space, I gathered the fortitude to deal with our own book avalanche. Again, I neglected to document visually the state of our books, but it much resembled Duncan's pile of 12 month clothes and the book overflow under the coffee table. There were stacks and stacks of books posted around our bedroom - Christmas and birthday books I hadn't had the time to make space for. This kind of situation is fine if you're single, or even if you're married to someone who can overlook your quirks; a toddler, however, finds towers of books to be excellent climbing material. Many have been the falls and near misses, not to mention my annoyance at having to stack the books AGAIN. It finally occurred to me that: a) we will not be buying any more bookcases until we buy a house - there is literally nowhere else to put them; b) no one in our house will be reading Aristotle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, or the 20 year old copy of Gleitman's Introduction to Psychology that launched me into fame and fortune; so c) something had to give. It was amazing how much bookshelf space was freed simply by filling a small U-Haul moving box with books we literally never open. I'm sure the movers will be taking that box to our next house, but for now, THE BOOKS HAVE BREATHING ROOM! Everything is on the shelf. It's like a breath of fresh air, which is a good thing, because...

Today is spring! Even though it was dreary, cold, and windy, and we had to wait until 4:15 p.m. to see the sun, it is unequivocally spring. I have faith, which is probably why Easter tends to arrive with spring. Even if you don't believe in the whole Christian tradition, how can you not believe in the power of spring to bring rebirth?

As for the knitting...could I be more of a novice? First, there is nothing more painful than ripping out 1/2 inch of knitting because you weren't paying attention and went too far. Then, not once, not twice, but three times I knit and ripped out the three rows involving the first button hole. I keep losing a stitch. Either I don't remember how to knit the yarn over, or I am supposed to lose the stitch (somehow, I suspect the former). How much will it matter if I lose that stitch twice on the right and left sides? Perhaps the Yarn Harlot can live with such ambiguity, but I cannot. I can, however, read so I guess I'll research the yarn over before I try again. The Yarn Harlot probably knit at my level when she was 2. Can you be more novice than novice? On the bright side, I'm incredibly proud of my sister Lorna who ALSO set out to knit something other than scarves and was FINISHING (I know - it's a word foreign to me these days) a bag when I saw her this weekend. I'm jealous. The only things I have finished in ages are the gauge swatches for this sage green thing without button holes.

But it's spring! Breathe it, think it, feel it (even in Amenia).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Worse Before Better, II: The Overflow

Duncan's second birthday wasn't all about cake and tractors.  Duncan's second birthday also necessitated a ritual that I am hoping will now become annual instead of semi-annual: purging.  We spent yesterday folding and packing his 12 - 18 month clothes, some 9 - 12 month clothes that still fit into last April or May, and a smattering of his 6 - 9 month clothes that just happened to be kicking around.  Now, we just moved in August, so you would think we might have taken care of some of this (no tittering from the peanut gallery who moved all this stuff from CT to NY), but if you think that, you just don't know us.  It was not just the clothes that had outgrown their storage units but also his toys.  His baby toys had to make way for the stockpile of new art supplies, train sets, and stuffed animals he received for his birthday.  (Did we just do this at Christmas?  I think so, but I wouldn't swear to it).  I busied myself with the clothes; I couldn't watch as my toddler's babyhood disappeared into cardboard boxes relegated to the attic.  

His books had achieved critical mass as well.  (Un)fortunately, my husband had the living room books taken care of before I could take a picture of Mount Book, which had overtaken the overflow book basket under the coffee table.  The overflow of the overflow basket was a pretty good indication that his bookcase was also overflowing.  Although I missed the photo opportunity, same loving husband also reminded me that if you scroll down to the tractor picture, you can get a pretty good view of life under the coffee table.  With most of the board books packed away, we discovered that the "big boy" books actually take up less space!  There is breathing room in Duncan's bookcase so feel free to send us books at your leisure.

A good time was had by no one, but the result is well worth a day of vacation.  His closet is outfitted with stacking bins for whatever new toys didn't fit in his toy boxes, and we fit his diaper accouterments into the closet as well; we managed to clear a nice piece of real estate where we will eventually put a toddler table and chairs.  On Friday, we head to the mall to outfit Duncan with his spring and summer wardrobe; one more quick box to fill with 18-24 month clothes (and an entire spring and summer wardrobe to wash and fold), and we're off.

It Has To Get Worse Before It Gets Any Better

Sunday, March 16, 2008

No Comment

Why can you not leave comments?  I don't know why you cannot leave comments; for now, my settings enable anyone to read and comment on my blog.  However, for personal safety (and to reduce SPAM and other tinned meat products), comments are supposed to be sent to my e-mail address to await my approval.  Melissa and Marcie could not comment, yet Courtney did. Perhaps, comments by people whose names begin with the letter M are prohibited?  I am so new to this.  Keep trying.  I've double checked my settings; I'll check out the Help button next time I log in.

104 / 3

It's a strange situation for me.  Having knit these 104 stitches (with no stretch, on needles made of plastic, which has been a tactile nightmare for me) for 5 inches, I now have to divide them into three sections and leave them hanging, live, on what approximates large safety pins.  (When I reached this stage, I was secretly thrilled that I had not gained or lost any stitches!)  I know that for veteran knitters (even probably most novice knitters), this is no big deal; for me, it is a leap of faith.  This enterprise could unravel in seconds under the right (wrong) circumstances.  I am reminded of the Yarn Harlot's recent experience with the grape socks and listening to the needle gently hit the floor as hours of delicate sock knitting simply disappeared (although that is probably an obscure allusion to anyone who might happen upon my blog).  I imagine that soon this stealth project will become more recognizable.

I set out to challenge myself and break out of the world of scarves, hats, and mittens, so I am going to trust that this will just work out; may the yarn gods look upon me with favor.  

This blog experience is also new to me.  I am an inchoate blogger, but I am glad that I shared my blog.  Courtney is now thinking of a travel blog; Andrea is thinking her life is too boring to blog (but as a new dog mother with a baby of her own on the way, I disagree); Janine is intimidated by the blog (but sounding intrigued); Marcie and Roger are my idols as novice bloggers who are documenting Baby Ben so beautifully.  As for me, I'm enjoying the writing, having a place to post some pictures, and the sharing.  Thanks to my tiny little audience for reading so far!  Maybe soon I'll figure out how to add some links so you can check out the blogs I'm reading!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Wary of the Ides

Today is:  Einstein's birthday, Baby Benjamin's original due date, the last Friday before Spring Break, and one day before the Ides of March (of which we are wary).  I'm not sure how we can mark this excitement, so close on the heels of Duncan's birthday, except by posting a picture of the ever-famous "TRACTOR!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake!

We are all wiped out by the sugar, the tractor, and various additions to the GeoTrax collection, but here's a picture in case you worried that the birthday boy wouldn't get his cake.  Up next in the post with knitting fiascos!  (Unless something more exciting happens between now and then!)

1 + 1 = 2

So far, being 2 has consisted of eating a bagel on a ride-on John Deere tractor and taking a dozen cupcakes to daycare.  Last year, when Duncan turned 1, he had no interest in his cake (though he ate brussels sprouts like candy).  Apparently, turning 2 is all about cake.  When we inquired about his preferred birthday dinner, he replied "cake."  When we asked "what tomorrow is," he said "cake."  "Whose birthday is it tomorrow?"  "Cake."  "How old will you be on your birthday?"  "Cake."  Our unwillingness to serve cake on the penultimate night of his second year as well as our unwillingness to serve cake for breakfast to mark the beginning of his third year were met with admonition.  Never fear, young toddler, there will be much cake in the week to come.  

By the way (refer to previous post), Duncan DID wake me up at 12:40 so that I would spend the moment of his birth with him at 12:41.

Cake and tractor pictures to follow, but here is a picture of his first birthday for comparison.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1 X 2 = 2

Tonight, while I sleep (hopefully), my baby will turn 2.  I'm sure the event will be much less dramatic than his actual birth day, which was a very long day with myriad twists and turns that narrowly avoided an emergency c-section, visited a vacuum extractor, and ultimately resulted in the arrival of Duncan Collins Martin, 7 pounds 14 ounces, 21 inches.  He missed his due date by 41 minutes, a lateness that can be attributed to my utter hopelessness at "pushing."  (Give me a break...I'd been awake for about 24 hours and had all kinds of chemicals pumped into my body).  

One day you're pregnant, and the next day you're some one's mother.  You go to bed 1 and wake up 2.  It's surreal.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cotton: The Fabric of Our Lives

This yarn has been kicking me in the teeth for at least a week now - longer if you count the 3 separate internet orders to accumulate the yarn (plus extra to replace what I used in numerous gauge swatches), stitch holders, and long enough needles. It has required two gauge swatches, neither of which actually "GOT GAUGE," though one came closer to the other. This is a secret project for a secret person; its identity will gradually become apparent, however, and if you know me, you'll be able to guess the recipient. I decided to make a bold foray into the land of knitted garments, leaving the scarves, hats, and mittens far behind. I am doubting whether I have the fortitude for this project.

The yarn is nothing fancy: Lion Bran Organic Cotton in Sage. It needs to be wash and wear, and the recipient's mother (too many hints) will appreciate its organic nature. I've never knit cotton before and am struggling with its lack of stretch. It's taken me 4 inches to achieve a tension that is almost comfortable. I'm also not fond of the feel of this cotton on these plastic needles. Next time (I aim to make three more of these babies), I'll knit it on metal circulars (probably Turbo Addi's). I'm glad that it's beginning to feel better because I need to get some better karma into this piece!

Today is a day for rain, vanilla cupcakes, meatloaf, painting with Duncan, and the long wait for more pictures of baby Ben. In short, hibernation is the name of the game.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Healthy Sense of Wonder

Our new friend Ben was born today.  I haven't met him yet; I haven't even seen him yet for that matter, but I hear that he is pretty special.  His arrival has left me nostalgic for our early days with my own son, Duncan, who will turn 2 in 6 days.  How these little people arrive in the world is nothing short of magic, no matter how they get here.  Sometimes, I can't imagine how Jamie, Duncan, or I survived to see him turn 2 given our lack of experience with the whole baby rearing game.  Sometimes, each day feels so long that you can't foresee waking up to do it all over again; then, suddenly, 724 of those days are gone.  Childhood is fleeting.  My eyes have welled with tears all day as I have been completely overwhelmed with love for my beautiful, 2-going-on-20, little boy.  I hope that I can always recapture this feeling.  Especially after he drives my car through the garage door.