~:: Small Victories ::~

I found a little box of chocolates in the fridge.  I didn’t mean to.  I wasn’t hunting for it.  Left over from Swiss Colony. There were just a few in there.  And I ate them all. Today.  For lunch.


A gift from a very dear (if balmy) buddy.

I want to blog.  I want to make you laugh. Actually, I just want to reach out and touch the back of your hand to let you know I’m here.  Is that the same as echo location, I wonder? Because it just feels like friend-biz to me. I have not been sharing photographs because I haven’t been taking any. January is not charming me this year. And you can only take so many shots of your desktop.  So I am going to pepper this with unrelated images, loved but somehow passed over last year.  That okay?


Having given up on fixing the old microwave (Thanksgiving looming), G muscles the new one into place.  What a handy guy.  (Notice my bag of knit pony stuffing saving the stove top.)


1) Christmas is not completely put away.  I am still defiant about leaving the lights on at night till the end of January. But it’s the tree that’s the main problem; the bag we bought for it years ago savages it every time we stuff it in there. (Did I hear you say, “GET A REAL TREE?” Don’t. The number of lights I use on a tree qualifies as torture under anybody’s rules of engagement, I don’t care how dead the tree may be when we start.)  But there are other things, too; they need to be put away properly.  I don’t have properly in me.


A Christmas owl for Chelsea, the owl maven.


A mysterious mess on the project table.  What can it be?



An argyle hippo for Gin, the hip hippo maven.

2) I hate Microsoft 2007 for Mac. I’m just sayin’. I want Word Perfect back.  Less auto format, more control.


Small face at the window.  Autumn.  Still some green.


3) I am still freaking out over this book business. I read the first page of  The Gardener this morning and found about eight things I needed to edit. And I’m trying to figure out how to write braggy things about myself for publicity. And how to find channels for product exposure.  I am NOT a salesman. I’m just a writer. But I’m learning a heck of a lot about inDesign. Wow – how they come up with these programs is beyond me.  So cool. Lucky me, when I upgraded PhotoShop back V.3 time, they gave me thirty days of Lynda.com training as a thank you.  Five years later, I was shocked to see the offer was still good.  And I love it.


A Thanksgiving apple pie for Lucy, as she jets around the world.


Chaz opens a Christmas box with golden paper in it (see the reflection of it on her face?).  The gold paper is supposed to make an exciting present out of what may be the ugliest scarf every knitted for a decent girl.  EVER.


Murph, sporting his Christmas sweater, and the other present his mother gave him.  Explanation coming at another time.


Dear Laura, the good sport, wearing the ugliest hat ever made for a decent girl.  My very first hat effort.  If you put this and the ugliest scarf together at one time, you could be arrested for possessing a weapon of mass destruction.

4) This is how I have spent the month:

A) (isn’t this outline fun?) I started my annual bout of Scanning the Family Photo        Albums. The books I end up with at the end of the year are usually between 300-440 pages, but that includes a lot of single-very-favorite-photo pages, so I only end up actually scanning – oh – maybe 250-350 pages in the first six weeks of the year. But I’ve always been worried the river will flood or the house will burn down and the unscanned history will be lost forever—or else, I’ll die before and do it, and who would do it then?  So at times I’ve thought, why not just go ahead and scan the entire dang library?


Chaz and friend.  Late summer.


Then I look at the bookshelves and realize how much there is to do and remember how mind-numbingly boring it is to do it. At least five years’ worth of project left.

This year, though – I ripped through the five albums earmarked for the project (I’m sort of retired, remember—filling in time till I kick the bucket). Started scanning January 3rd; finished in five days. I guess I’m good at it now.  Actually, I’m a machine. A clock-work miracle. Steam-punk mama. I had it down to eighteen moves per page, timed perfectly – (I know because I timed myself), a dance of precision.  G came in one time to hug me and I simply knocked him over and danced across his chest.  And I listened to Radio Lab so that my brains wouldn’t fall out. A few times, I wondered if the process was burning calories.  So I just kept going.  One hour, two hours, finally three hours a day.

All in all, by the time I finished on the morning of January 23rd, I had scanned fifteen hundred and ninty pages.  That’s one thousand, five hundred nine-oh.

I have backed them up to three drives, Mozy and now I’m committing them to DVDs.


January’s work: a very fat sheep. Linda, please forgive me.

BUT I’M FINISHED. With the scanning at least.  The scanning and the Christmas chocolates.


And a very red fox.  I made him from alpaca instead of the mohair he’s supposed to be, and my DK wasn’t fat enough for my needles, so he’s a white-spotted red fox, which doesn’t make him less endearing in his mother’s eyes.  Renny, I call him.  You know, short for  – yeah you get it.


B) I found the digital manuscript for Breaking Rank, the only one of my NY published novels that’s completely out of print.  And I got out the book.  And I transferred all the editing that ended up in the book to the manuscript so I can e-book that, too.  Except for the typo hunting being done by my mistake-sniffing friend, Kathy, that’s finished.  So all I’ll have to do is set up the cover and the formatting and the blank-space images and the copyright pages and that will be finished too.


Fox and sheep, or couldn’t you tell?  They aren’t shivering.  But I was when I shot them.  Captured them, I mean.

Done.  All this stuff done.


So why don’t I feel finished?


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67 Responses to ~:: Small Victories ::~

  1. Dawn says:

    I was so happy to see a post from you on my reader. You’ve been missed. : ) I can see that you’ve been very busy. The fox, the sheep, the argyle hippo…oh wow, so cute! I don’t blame you for wanting to keep the lights up, long after Christmas. January is a dark month.
    I’m excited about your next book that you’re preparing for e-readers. The Gardener was so good.
    All that photo scanning that you’ve been doing made me think of a story I saw the other day, about a Chicago nanny. Here, I’ll let you see the story for yourself, it’s quite amazing.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075228/What-nanny-saw-Housekeepers-stunning-images-1950s-Chicago-working-class-America-new-light.html
    I can’t even imagine how much work that would be, to scan all those pictures. I still need to scan pictures too. It’s a little overwhelming, but very important.

    • Rachel says:

      That is a really neat story Dawn!!

    • webmaster says:

      But I did keep up with my Reader, huh? So that was good. I even had to change the header, because it was still a Christmas one. But I’m so used to being three months behind, it feels a little odd to catch up. Yes – January is SO dark and SO heavy. But I noticed this morning that it was reasonably light at five after seven – so there’s hope!! The sun WILL return. I noticed, as I came back from the horses the other day, that the sun is unexpectedly, even weirdly far south in the morning. I know it’s probably always been like that in winter, but I JUST NOTICED. Which is what makes winter dawns so odd – the shadows are thrown in the opposite direction than I expect them to be. I make it my personal code not to rise until after first light when everything wet is frozen and there are no leaves. I’ll check out the link. I’m not sure I know how much work it was – just how glad I was when I was finished. Except – it’s like getting off a merry-o-round – you’re not so sure how to walk without spinning for a while.

  2. Rachel says:

    I wish we lived across the street as I long to see your Christmas lights during this drear and grey time of year…….

    I love Chazi’s jammies!!!!

    Do me a favor. Since you are such a pro…… help me to scan all of my photos now and back it all up. It overwhelms me and my poor kids haven’t seen any of the photos I’ve taken them over the years………… they’re all in boxes!!!! Shame on me. It’s overwhelming. That’s why you don’t feel done. You need to do my photos now. :D

    • webmaster says:

      Oh, dream on, sister of my heart. The very thought makes my blood turn to mud. No, it’s good for your character to sift through all this (good luck telling your children apart as babies). I HAVE, however, scanned pictures of your children at very young ages – in case you need a reference. And I will be very glad to teach you the dance. I wish you lived across the street from me, too – not just because of the lights. Chaz has two pair now, different colors. And Chelsea got the same ones (from me), so they are twinseys (how will visitors tell the roomies apart?). I prefer plaid myself. By the way, the sweater looks MUCH better on you and you are getting it back. Just as soon as I get up from my desk, which may be weeks.

  3. Donna says:

    Happy to hear your voice! Happy to see your pictures! I am starting my knitting with a hat…a gnome like hat, but I really want to be able to make me some to those cute animals. How long do I have to knit before I can try one? Which one might be easiest? When I come to visit, I better plan to be there awhile, because I want to look into all of those books of history! Amazing. Next you should make copies of each book so each of your kidlets can have a set one day. :-)

    • Donna says:

      Oh, and I love your sparkles hanging in the header!

    • webmaster says:

      The animals aren’t that hard. Mostly, you just need to know knit, purl increase, decrease, cast off. And I HAVE made copies for them – each child but M has the entire library – about six books so far – big old fat books. The one of my dad’s life is the absolute coolest – letters written by his grandparents, pictures of WWII, college – civil war portraits of his great grandfather and his children, and all the stories dad used to tell us (read:tall tales and outright lies)when we were little. So plan to stick around for a LONG time.

      • Donna says:

        Wow…multiple copies…and your eyes aren’t crossed or anything yet? I just got new glasses for near work…computer, sewing, reading and they are making me happy already.
        My butt is still looking for a comfy seat!

        • Donna says:

          I learned knit and purl…not sure about the increase part. Gonna go and see if I remember how to get some string on the needles. She showed me a fancy way. I might remember…
          Mostly I am shaking my head that I am learning something new…really? Do I need a new thing to do? But I love those little animals.

          • webmaster says:

            There are a couple of fancy ways. Rachel showed me the one we think that our friend Julie of Little Cotton Rabbits favors. But I can’t remember it now, so I’ll have to make Rachel show me again – but I’ll have to wait till she forgets about the picture scanning thing. And they have youtube videos about every possible cast=on in the world. I know. The way I fell into this whole thing – the knitting of toys, knowing Linda, finding these friends – was because I stumbled on the idea of knitting a horse. So I Googled knit horse patterns, immersed myself in these interesting crafty blogs. Found the ancient knitting books they were using. Starting using “Waldorf” in my search string. I think I probably started it all just cruising Etsy. Before that, I didn’t read a whole lot of blogs – just a few I’d found. One that was linked to me after I’d written my scathing send-down of Twilight – a very witty woman who had blasted it with an aplomb I still just find awesome.

            Anyway, it was not liking any of the patterns I’d found and writing Linda on Etsy to ask her if she was ever going to make a pattern for the horse she was selling there that sent me to her blog. The rest is history. A little knit horse has brought me so much joy. You, I harvested from Sue Spargo. If I get nothing else from following her work with interest (I bought that book she first published in French), You are prize enough for me.

            • Donna says:

              So, I was just knitting and had a pattern plan in my head…5 knits and a purl row. I thought I purled, but then when I got ready to do the next row it was all wonky…so, I took it all out and will try again tomorrow. And I’m OK with that. Monica, my teacher and mother of one of my most favorite students ever, gave me a couple of books to read…Maggie Righetti seems like she might be useful and interesting, but I am reading another book that I am loving so I can’t read about knitting right now. And you know what? I am so OK with all this tiny tension…is the wisdom part starting to kick in????
              And I am so glad you found me…so glad.

            • webmaster says:

              There are always going to be tiny tensions, because there’s only so much time in any given minute – but so much more possibility. So allowing the tension and letting yourself enjoy parcelling out the process over days – wisdom indeed!

        • webmaster says:

          I do a layout with the images then send them off to Blurb.com to be made into hardback books, printed on demand. So I end up ordering five or six of each. My dad’s book sold about eight extra copies—to my aunt for cousins on that side of the fam.

          • Donna says:

            I have seen that … and made a couple of little books through shutterfly…it is a gift beyond measure!

            ps. blogger won’t let me comment on my own blog right now….

            • webmaster says:

              i LOVE doing those books. I actually made a very small square one for Gin’s Max when he was first learning to read – a first reader illustrated with crazy pictures of Max himself.

  4. You HAVE made me laugh. Repeatedly. And this was a blog full of so much goodness, that I can’t even remember what all I was laughing at. I only remember the satisfaction of the laughter.

    Okay, the clothespins! I GET the clothespins reference! Or I am at least smug enough to feel confident that I know the explanation. Makes me smile, it does.

    Your gifts, given and received, are all wonderful – and Laura’s hat is FULLY included. I want to knit that fox too. I bought 4 more of Linda’s animal patterns, have printed them out, scoped out some yarn, but have yet to knit them. She hadn’t released her fab fox pattern before I made my purchase, or I’d have selected it, I think. More likely I would have selected a larger package. Yes, must be honest with myself.

    Your cedar shingles are wonderful! We too will have some cedar shingles whenever our siding gets done. Currently, our siding is ugly ol’ house wrap. Torn, flapping in the wind, house wrap.

    • webmaster says:

      But house wrap is a statement waiting to happen. It could be anything – any color. That’s very exciting. And having things flap in the wind is – poetic in the otherwise prosaic winter. And you DO know what the clothes pins are for. I have given every married couple a bunch of these at some point. Laura is the kind of person who, as is evidenced in the picture, got it pretty quick. I am proud to say that I have made at least two of Linda’s patterns so far. I really need to do the armadillo, though. I love him. i love him bunches. Have you looked at Alan Dart’s stuff? Holy cats. And there are a couple of other people I think are really clever. I really like making toys. But you are the braver one – you and Rachel with your cute sweaters and stuff.

      • Donna says:

        I, too, have come to appreciate the singular beauty of house wrap…but only on the back of the house where none of our home association neighbors can see it anymore!

        • webmaster says:

          Let the church say, “AMEN!” We actually had naked plywood on the west side of our house for about five years before I made my brother put up the siding there. We moved in before we’d finished that wall, and then had children and business and no time to think about it. Fortunately there were trees over there and the neighborhood didn’t have to see it.

          • A statement waiting to happen. PERFECT. Now I can sit back, listen to that flapping and hear it as possibility. As anticipation. The world driving by must tingle with it. Actually, I’m sure they’re entirely habituated to it, given that one small hunk of our house (when we added a bathroom, the ONLY bathroom at the time – it was all outhouse before that) was left house wrapped for long YEARS. There was no point in doing the siding, cuz the old summer kitchen was going to get renovated. Had no idea it would take over a decade to get there.

            Righty-o, will have to check out Alan Dart. The horses have been one of my favourite knits yet.

            • webmaster says:

              I have to write to you about the horses.

              Yes – that’s the way we go about building things – as I said. Glacial, but moving none-the-less. It’s good when your neighbors tend to forgive you more often than not.

  5. Chazi says:

    I love my scarf, and EVERY time I wear it I get compliments. And your FOX AND SHEEP–SO cute.

    I had no idea you’d scanned that many pages. You crazy. Awesome, but totally crazy.

    Also, I love those pics of me and Toby ._. My tooooobyyyyy

  6. I love that you shared all of these random, gorgeous photos that would have never had the chance to delight us. Especially since I should have just enjoyed the pictures and subtitles, skipping the text for all I understood of it… you author, computer techy person you. ;)

    Blessings, Debbie

    • webmaster says:

      Oh, you are so silly. But now you have encouraged me to do even more image dumping. There were things I really longed to share – and I’m not sure why? But I do want to share them still, and it makes me sad when I haven’t. This puzzles me, as I think about it. But you do the same thing. You show faces that you love and talk about the things they do. We don’t write just for family. But I think we expand our family as we write. I think, the more we care about each other, the more light we have inside, and the more hope there is for the world.

  7. Teje says:

    Hi, so nice to see you after a while! I have been more busy also but just yesterday I was thinking of you! I enjoy always your text and photos! Congratulations to your book and good selling! Your knitted animals are so cute! I make only flat things – with any 3d I feel incapable.
    Best wishes! x Teje

    • webmaster says:

      Oh, Teje – I suspect you don’t come back to read answers. I sometimes forget to do it myself. But it’s so funny that you said this, because all yesterday I was feeling so 3d stupid and admiring the people who do work in it. I can do it when I knit. I just have to learn to do it when I sew. I love your flat things.

  8. Jenni says:

    My goodness you are a machine! Good idea to scan all those photos but it sure takes a long time to scan one, I can’t imagine doing all those. Loved all the photos to this post and you will have a laugh because the first thing I said was ‘what a lovely horse’ then I went hang on a minute that’s my horse …..:-)

    Fantastic to hear you are doing another book. Having just finished ‘ The only Alien on the Planet’, which BTW I couldn’t put down, I was going to beg you for more! Now I don’t have to beg!

    Love the little fox but I am being dumb about his name, you will have to enlighten me!

    I laughed at the comment about pushing G aside and walking over chest, ask Billy about me and my knitting ;-)

    • webmaster says:

      I got “Renny” from renard, the French word for fox. Have you ever read The Little Prince? It’s a french book, translated into English eons ago, and odd and strange and off-kilterly charming. We had it in my house in French – why, I do not know, since my father never actually spoke more than three or four phrases of French, and I would try to read it when I was little. “M’apprivoisez,” was the bit that caught me most – it’s said when the fox, who is wild, is yearning to be tamed. I guess it spoke to me. He explains that the Prince must come and sit in the same place every day and be quiet and patient, and that every day, the little fox will come a bit closer and a bit closer, till they are friends. I shouldn’t have assumed everyone would know French, eh? But I always think everyone knows so much more about everything than I do.

      I am SO honored and delighted that you have enjoyed these books. That is another kind of dance, but I won’t knock anyone down this time –

    • webmaster says:

      And about the red horse – which got huge ooooooos and ahhhhhhhs from the children – that’s hilarious. But didn’t it feel good, though, seeing the thing from a another perspective, liking it very much, then realizing it was something of your OWN HANDS. I’m delighted.

  9. Jenni says:

    PS chocolate for lunch is a good thing ;-)

  10. Julie says:

    I’m glad you ate choccies for lunch because it makes me feel less guilty about the chocolate brownie I substituted for a healthy breakfast this morning. Also as Jenni said chocolate for lunch is a good thing – it gives you energy for the afternoon and it certainly sounds like you need a whole lot of energy at the moment – you have a lot on! I think one tenth of what you are doing would overwhelm me! January is such a hard month to get things done it – the cold and dark saps energy and I think we all are fighting the urge for hibernation! Good job you have all those bright and heartwarming images to lift both your and our spirits – I do love your little fox and lamb xxx

    • webmaster says:

      Oh – hibernation. THAT’S WHAT’S GOING ON. Why didn’t I ever think of it? I’ll tell you, when you have no children left to get up for school, the great temptation is to lie in for hours till the sun is up truly. And why not, I wonder? Haven’t you earned the right after all those decades of being responsible to make up your own mind when you are allowed to get up and when not? G’s grandmother certainly felt so. When I drag myself out at eight in the morning, I feel very righteous about it. But then I suffer the rest of the day, the whole day thrown off by an hour or two.

      And you are so kind to me, Jules – you know good and darn well how loose they are, how unlike your own perfect work. I am delighted whenever I come even close to seeing my rows as beautiful and smooth as your always are. Sometimes they are that way for almost quarter inches.

      What I have been doing, on a serious note, is not one tenth of what you do in a day, every day. You are always my hero.

  11. Keven says:

    Well, I was going to comment, but you don’t need my comments — you have plenty and what I would say would not be interesting to your friends. Just know that I love you. I have no idea what the clothespins mean. Guess I’m just dense.

    • webmaster says:

      Whatdya mean, I don’t need your comments? Of COURSE I need your comments. And what you’d say would be said among very nice friends who are very interested in very nice people. You’d have to read Breaking Rank to know about the clothes pins. And not many have, so almost nobody knows about the clothes pins, unless they happened to live in my house about twelve years ago. You’re only dense for not making the comment you were going to make, silly.

  12. Chelsea says:

    My owl! I love him sooo

    Great to see the ‘missed’ pictures– and I know the feeling of not being finished or accomplished, even though you are. I guess it’s because for people like us, nothing is ever finished.

    • webmaster says:

      Well, now, that promises us a life of eternal frustration, doesn’t it? or else, guarantees that we’ll never, ever be bored!

  13. Kathy V says:

    I always forget what I was going to comment after I read everyone else’s comment.s

    You have ben awful busy. I’m impressed that you had all those books made up to start with. I petered out about 10 years ago. Actually, when Michael quit spending so much time in the hospital, I quit scrapbooking. Now I’m about as pathetic as Rachel.

    I agree. This January has not been inspiring. At all. It’s been just plain wierd.

    I’m purposely not fixing my typos. Just for fun.

    • webmaster says:

      You walk, then, on the wild side. Typos be danged. It has been weird. It’s been worse for me mot knowing what day it is, and for the Sabbath seeming to come every three days, and because it’s so warm, but I don’t trust that to be real. I am always looking the gift horse in the mouth, wondering what the problem will be, at what inopportune moment it will hit and how much it will cost. I sort of petered out (where did that expression come from, I wonder? Salt peter in gun powder?) when Gin moved. There was a gap between film and digital and it hit in about 2004=5. When I got the hang of digital, it started up again, but I never re=picked up video. Why are we up this late?

  14. webmaster says:

    Actually, I just searched the net and came up with this odd site:

    While there are some ideas mentioned there that are kinda – stupid – as you see from my own guess, some have a shot at sense (my own guess being the measure of sense, evidently). I really like the picture in my head of this trail of saltpeter going from the rock behind which the miners are hiding, leading to the explosives down in the valley. They light their end of the “fuse” (read: trail of saltpeter), and it starts fizzling and the flame travels down the trail, till in some place or other, the mixture of the black powder gets thin, not so much saltpeter, and then maybe NO salt peter for a long enough distance that the flame simply fizzles out, half way there. So I have decided that’s where it came from. That this could be taken as a metaphor for the apparent fizzling out of St. Peter’s resolve makes it even better. Or sadder.

    • Kathy V says:

      I concur with your decision. I don’t like the idea of “Peter”-ing out referring to the apostle. Like he opted out. Even if it does make for an interesting analogy. Let’s stick to salt peter.

  15. Natalie says:

    WOW! You have been a busy little beaver. The fox and hippo are simply darling. My favorite part is the panache the plaid gives the hippo.
    You are such a good example with preserving your history. That is another area you can mark me lame in. I have so much just waiting to be done and even supplies to do it, now I just need to find the time. Oh, that elusive time…..

    • webmaster says:

      Natalie – how OLD am I? I’ve got time instead of kids. I will admit that I kept my photographs in good order from the beginning. Some times better than others. That’s the one thing I did. But you know – soon enough you, too, will be old as dirt – and then you’ll have time.

    • webmaster says:

      Oh, and I did think using that repurposed argyle was one of the cleverest things I’ve ever done.

  16. Ginger says:

    Well, here I am. Commentor #64. A special slot. First of all, if I had created the fox and the sheep, I would have felt quite accomplished for the month. Add the crazy scanning and you’ve got me beat by about 1500 miles.

    Now that we all know about your steam-punk mama skills, we’ll be attempting to lure you over to our dens and show you our books and plead on bended knee on behalf of our miserable progeny who might have just scraps of knowledge about their forebearers because they didn’t have YOU on their team.

    I hope those Difficult to Photograph Darlings kiss your feet for doing this. Probably won’t happen today or tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure it WILL happen. How fortunate they are!

    • webmaster says:

      I think, rather than having kissed feet, I’d like chocolate. Or breakfast (not in bed). Or dinner and a movie. The wonderful thing about children, as you know well, is that when they thank you, they often do it with their lives. And really, would we want to make them hold still for more than thirty seconds? Now, as to the “luring” part – this is what I have to say about that: it was in your den, at YOUR FEET, that I learned to make these photo journals in the first place. YOU taught me about archive paper. YOU taught me how to organize the past as I went. YOU were the one who gave me this gift in the first place. I would be honored to teach you everything I know about the rest of this process – from the scanning to the taming of Photoshop. My mistakes could save you months of work. And you’d love it as much as I do. So your kids DO have me on their team, as my children have always had you.

  17. Shannon says:

    I think you don’t feel finished because there were only a few chocolates left. Now if you’d eaten the whole box…

    • webmaster says:

      I believe that you are right. In fact, I am TOTALLY SURE that you’re right. And I’m going to make a point of finishing from now on. But I need a new box now –

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