Monthly Archives: September 2004

vest progress (can it be true?)

In between picking up limbs (Can you BELIEVE that I am going to STILL need a chainsaw to move some of these things? This is AFTER the loggers for crying out loud!), I have been working diligently on M’s vest. I am about to the place where I ripped it out the first time (ARGH).

still life with unfinished vest and sock monkeys

Monkeys are the most helpful creatures.

I plan to make it to the arm holes during the Presidential Debates tonight. I also plan to eat popcorn and sour patch kids while watching, so I may not make it that far. I wouldn’t want to mess up Michael’s sweater with fingers coated in sticky, buttery deliciousness.

With the power back on, I’ve been catching up on my blog reading (a lot can happen in two weeks and I am adding a couple new sites to the What I Read Regularly List) and looking at “before and after” shots of Gulf Shores and Perdido Key. Some folks have slabs where their houses used to be and all of their stuff is floating out in the Gulf. I’d rather be picking up limbs for the rest of my life Any Day. Thanks for all of the kind thoughts y’all have been sending our way, I am thinking happy knitting thoughts back at you!


Here’s what you’ve missed! There is surprisingly little knitting.

Wednesday, September 15

Fetch Great Gran from the farm so that she can stay with us.
Prepare the bunker. This is the interior hall of our house – the little TV is in the upper left – Great Gran isn’t just staring at the wall. Bake brownies and make soup. The wind picks up.

Evening and Dark:
It gets really windy as the sun goes down, we retire to the bunker to watch Channel 5. The lights flicker a couple times before finally going off around 9:30PM (what’s the deal with hurricanes making landfall at night?). The phone still works. Can’t really hear anything in the bunker – our house is tight!
We begin the long, long night of winding the radio and listening out for tornado watches. We are still listening to Channel 5, they are broadcasting on a radio frequency as well *. Channel 15 in Pensacola has been off for a while: Ivan blew their tower down.
The leak by the fireplace has come back and there is another mysterious leak in one of the kitchen doors.

Thursday, September 16

The eye gets to us around two in the morning. Ivan followed Highway 59 up from Gulf Shores (where it made landfall) right to Bay Minette. The fun part is, I can look out the window right now and see Highway 59. But that does mean that we got a longer break than most people. Angus goes out to use the bushes. It’s pretty creepy out in the eye.
We all sleep through the second half.

It’s still very windy. We go outside to move the truck and promptly get stuck in the wet fill dirt in the front yard. Try manfully for an hour and a half to get it unstuck. Give up. Lots and lots and lots of trees are down all around the house. Lots of trees. At some point the phone line finally breaks.

Load Great Gran into her car to take her home. We can’t get to her house because of the massive cedar tree in the road. We have to go up someone else’s road and drive through the field. There’s a tree on her breezeway but no serious damage. No power, but she does have a phone. She has a generator so she is all set.
Hitch a ride with a neighbor back to town, he yanks our truck out of the mud with a chain. Beautiful afternoon.
Empty our fridge.
No lights, no phone.

Friday, September 17

Shelters are open in Baldwin County, M and I go to provide Emergency Communications (yes, I am a Ham) until they fix the phones. Work on those socks of M’s. Make it to the heel and realize I don’t have the instructions. Do some math. Turn the heel. Get the phone fixed up in my shelter (the last one) and pick up MREs. I love those things. They are very convenient when there is no power.
I discover the cause of the mysterious kitchen leak. That is the worst damage to the house. Hooray for that!
After checking on Great Gran, we take games and brownies to the shelter.

Saturday, September 18

No power. Check on the shelter. Things seem fine so we leave.
At Great Gran’s request, have an aborted trip to Mary Esther to check on the house. Turn back after realizing there is no gas on the way (due to no power) and the detour is Way Long. Will try again tomorrow with more gas cans.
Post Office gets power back and mail resumes.
Visit Winn Dixie with a short list for Great Gran. They don’t have power yet but their generator runs the emergency lights and the register. The experience of walking through the grocery store in the dark, noticing what people buy as “storm food” (there is no ravioli but loads of spaghetti-o’s) is Just Surreal. Employees are cleaning out the freezers (cart loads of chicken). I am a little dazed by the whole thing until I get to the ice cream freezer. All that ice cream. I would have helped them eat it when the power went out. That makes me teary.

Sunday, September 19

Make it to Mary Esther. Remember the pier?

sticks in the water

See the tree in the lift? It’s like the Boat Fairy came.

More trees. One of the smaller cedars is on the roof. Since that’s the only one I’m worried about (is there a hole under the branches?), find a guy and give him cash to take it down. No hole. There is a bite taken out of the eaves on the other side (tree), but it didn’t get the roof part so that’s good. Take lots of pictures for Great Gran. Clean out fridge. Mary Esther has power.
MRE for lunch (bean and rice burrito) and the long trip home.
Return to find that Great Gran got her lights back.
Still no lights at our house but a neighbor has duct-taped the phone line together.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Loggers come for the good trees.
I start putting everything back together.
No lights. More MREs
M borrows a generator so that he can hook up his computer to work.
I plug in the little TV to see what is going on in the world.

Tuesday-Friday (September 21-24)

Loggers take away 6 truck-loads of trees, M works, I clean, Farm for supper, no lights. I can see the neighbors’ houses for the first time. I work a little on M’s vest and then tear the whole thing out because it has been on the needles so long there is a line. Sigh.

Saturday, September 25

Lawn is mowed (yay!).
Lights! I heart power guys! I turn on lots of lights and buy ice cream for the freezer.
I re-do the band on the front of the vest.

*Once the worst part of the storm was past Mobile, they stopped giving useful information about where the storm actually was. I am still mad at them. And they kept forgetting that they were on the radio. Telling us that you are showing us a picture of the storm doesn’t help AT ALL. Grrrrr.


At this time tomorrow there won’t be any electricity. It’s surreal to be sitting here typing and know that. That is one thing hurricanes have going for them that tornados and earthquakes don’t: you know when they’re coming.

We came back to Bay Minette* yesterday. I’ve been up since six battening the hatches at our house and out at Great Gran’s. All the potted plants are in their respective garages along with with most of the lawn furniture. All the birdbaths have been tipped over. I’ve opted for no plywood on the French doors. I figure: if you are putting plywood up to keep your doors from being ruined, once you screw things into your doors, they are pretty much ruined. I’ll take my chances with that one. But there is plenty of water and bread (truck loads of cheap white bread have been coming into town all day), library books (priorities, folks) and food for the critters (and critter treats). I made brownies. Can’t have a storm without brownies. And we’ve moved the ham radio stuff into the house. There is also lots and lots of yarn. It may be a while before I post again because of that whole electricity thing, but I’ll have plenty to show you when I do.

My Great Gran-mother left me a treat in the back yard to make me feel better about this whole thing. It has come up right in the middle of the grass! Last week there was no sign of it and all of a sudden there is this reamarkable, exotic looking lily thing. I love it when stuff like that happens.

red spider lily

Ya’ll be safe.

*When they show you the maps on TV, look for Alabama’s Pants Legs (a.k.a. Mobile Bay). Bay Minette is at the tip top (the crotch, if you will – really more like the left front pocket – at the tip top to the right – you get the idea) of the pants legs.

P.S. Did you know that if Ivan goes to New Orleans they’ll be flooded for six weeks? Being below sea level sucks.

takin’ a break

I’ve been taking a little break from M’s vest.



The hair was the only part that made me want to scream. For little dolls with monkey legs and teeny, tiny clothing, that’s pretty good. They are all destined for careers in modeling. See? If you still don’t believe me, click here and here. They just love the camera.

I’ll get back to the vest tomorrow.

pretty weather

How do you get to make a Highland Thing? Practice. Practice. Practice.


I swatched the design from the Highland Thing again this morning to see if there was a noticable improvement. It’s blocking now so I’ll have to get back to you. The next step is practicing in the round.

M’s vest is coming along, I haven’t taken a picture of it because there is really nothing interesting going on. Please enjoy this lovely Boy and Dog shot as a Consolation Prize. We spent yesterday waiting for Tropical Storm weather from Frances – which never showed up. Today (as you can see from the picture), is Just Beautiful. Very windy (which I love), but the sun is out and it is nice and cool.

Since Mom is here, I have been working on her My First Sweater Project. I’ve gotten her to settle on a design. This is my pattern of choice for several reasons. First, I needed a project that she would finish so it had to be something that wasn’t too difficult (read: frustrating) or have a whole bunch of new techniques. There is shaping on the sleeves, she’ll have to pick up stitches to make the neck band, learn to seam and do a three needle bind-off. I think that’s enough for a first sweater; there is no need to complicate things with set-in sleeves, a button band or a fancy stitch pattern. I’ve ordered her a copy (and a little bit of sock yarn for myself) from One FIne Yarn.

There are two complications with my Mom and knitting sweaters. The first is that she is allergic to wool. Which is Not Cool. Wool is nice and stretchy-fluffy and covers a multitude of tension sins. Wool’s forgiving nature allows a beginner to create a garment that looks good (sometimes great) without being perfect. The alternative fiber of choice, cotton, does not. In fact, with less give and fluff, cotton will show everything. Seemingly out of spite. This brings me to my Mom’s other Knitting Handicap: she likes things to look perfect. Weep for me, people.

I managed to solve both the Wool Thing and the Perfectionist Thing with one yarn: 1824 Cotton. This stuff has a nubby texture that hides uneven stitches like a champ, creating a great fabric with an interesting texture. And the colors are Just Lovely. A sweater would run about $60. This is about the norm for a “decent” yarn. I explained my rationale, and got Mom to swatch with it to see what she thought. “Why is it so bumpy? This doesen’t look good. Am I doing it wrong?” I reminded her that she liked the tank that I had made and she just looked at me. I sighed (inside I was screaming and tearing my hair). And went to look for something smoother.

Turns out, I had some Cotton-Ease leftover from that tank I made up. Mom (of course) likes smoother better. Since the Cotton-Ease is 50% acrylic, it is cushier than other cottons, isn’t splitty, and it is an insanely good deal (since it is on sale, one sweater will be about $15). We could do worse. My biggest problem with it is that it comes in bright enough to hurt your teeth, candy colors. All subtelty is lost on this yarn. Which is fine for Mom, she likes bright. It took her two minutes to pick Popsicle Bluefor her sweater. She had three or four back-up colors, but Popsicle matches the socks she just finished.

I, on the other hand, am not fond of brights. I loath them. A viscious, internal struggle ensued. Part of me kept screaming “you’ll look like a Jelly Belly!” and the other part accused that part of Yarn Snobbery. The first part replied that not looking like a a piece of fake fruit had nothing to do with snobbery. I ended up ordering Orangeade. If you’re going to be shocking, you may as well go all the way and Blind people.

If there are any newbies out there who would like to break away from scarves and try something new (with support), let me know. The pattern is Knitting Pure and Simple’s “Classic Drop Shoulder Pullover for Women” which is available at several yarn stores. It can be made in any worsted weight yarn as long as you can get the gauge of 18 sts to 4″. It’s a great First Big Project.