cocoa purl

Chocolate Covered Misadventures (knitting, childrearing, surviving) of a Passable Mind

C’mon Baby, Do the Locomotion June 20, 2008

Filed under: adventures,BG,knitting,Uncategorized — cocoapurl @ 10:39 pm

Racecars, boats, trains, trucks, motorcycles, even dirigibles. All boys LOVE locomotion.

This father’s day weekend was all about locomotion. We went to the Poconos this weekend to redeem BG’s raincheck for his stockcar driving lesson (warning – very annoying web site) that we (me and pretty much our entire extended family) got him for our anniversary/his birthday. The weather held out, though we were a bit nervous given the little lightning bolt icon that came up when we checked local weather Saturday morning.

This time around it was a little different atmosphere – being the day before Dad’s day, there were lots of families that treated their respective “Dad’s”, mostly to rides. Slightly less testosterone than the last time, but I had my Koigu sock with me – as good an estrogen shield as any. A purple, green and yellow handmade sock is a fine antidote for sitting in the pit of Pocono International Speedway. Which, by the way, matched the purple car that BG drove just so, though I kept that to myself at the time.

If you look closely, you can see the whites of his teeth.

And while I didn’t make it to my local WWKIP in Rochester, I represented at the speedway. I’m pretty sure I was the only one there. But who knows – maybe the tough-guy drivers, instructors and pit guys were sitting in the trailer in their badass fireproof jumpsuits, knitting away on some socks and debating the pros and cons of dpn’s and circulars. Not likely. But the mental image amuses me to no end.

Not too many men can pull of a bright red, white and blue jumpsuit. But even dudes are checking him out.

As for how he liked it, I give you exhibit A:

Clearly he didn’t have any fun. At ALL.

I asked him as we were leaving how his back dealt with it all (I was afraid to even mention how he was going to twist his three herniated disks into that car, Dukes of Hazzard style. You’d think for $120,000 they could afford door handles. Or even DOORS.) His answer: “My back?”

On Sunday, we went out on the Colonial Belle, a local canal boat that does tours down the Erie Canal. It was a great day – they had a guitarist on board, who, in addition to lovely canal-touring ditties, also did a fab rendition of the Gilligan’s Island theme (which is still in my head, unfortunately) and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. (He had some ghost karaoke-style backup singers doing the ba-ba-ba‘s, but I couldn’t seem to locate them. Did I mention they had a full bar on the boat?)

The captain was a great guide, and pointed out all sorts of areas of interest and points of history. BG and LG had hot dogs, BG got a beer, mom-in-law had a margarita – good times. LG wasn’t completely enthralled, but tolerated the 1.5 hours of relative inactivity fairly well. His high points included going under the bridges (he has a bit of a thing for bridges – and ones that raise up? Forget it. He loses his mind.) and spotting the high tension wires.

And, dutiful historian of family activities that I am, I FORGOT THE CAMERA. Dumbass.

Over the course of the weekend, I finished one Jaywalker, out of previously mentioned purple Koigu, literally by a nose. Or a toe. I was getting very nervous as my remaining yarn ball got smaller and smaller. I kept holding it up to BG in an effort to use his spatial soothsaying abilities to give me some sense of things – will I finish the sock? Should I put in a contrasting toe? And where can I find Koigu in northeastern Pennsylvania? He was no help, but I managed to finish the sock. I think it was because I knitted faster and faster as I got to the toe – I hear that helps.

Will I make it?

Must knit faster…Hey! Are those caution cones ahead? Oh, wait, that’s just my toes.

I’m feeling the urge to cast on another big(ger) project still – I have a slew of Debbie Bliss Silk Aran burning a hole in my stash that I got on sale at Knit n’ Purl’s going out of business sale. I’ve been thinking (still) about Something Red, but I may go with Sprout instead. I’m not completely sure about the cables, though – they strike me as a little out of place. So basically, I’m still deciding to make a decision. I’m feeling a little flush with victory from the CPH – a pretty dangerous thing, as I’m even thinking of trying Lace Ribbon. Again.

Lace Ribbon

Lace Ribbon – so pretty, but I don’t know that my attention span and lace are compatible.

Happy Father’s Day to my BG, and to my Dad. Thank goodness for Dads. Who better to teach about how that liftbridge actually raises up, or why you probably shouldn’t somersault off the couch (they speak from experience). BG is a combination of good cop, explainer of all things, kisser of booboo’s (the bumps, not the dog. At least, not very often – BooBoo’s oral hygiene is questionable), giver of bear hugs, and builder of the best train tracks. Not to mention that he plays endless rounds of CandyLand, changes poopy diapers (level 4 toxicity), cleans the litter box and even the dogs’ late night gastric emissions from ill-conceived “snacks”, and watches the Do the Alphabet video AGAIN even though This Old House is on. All without complaint. (OK, maybe the diapers evokes a fairly dramatic grimace and a shudder.) Thanks, sweetie – you’re the best.

And while I’m sure my sister and I were such angels that discussions of gravity vs. us were not required, I thought I’d say: Thanks, Dad – not only for keeping the number of visits to the emergency room down, but for helping to make us into decent, law-abiding citizens. Who also know the merits of carburetors vs. throttle body injection – an important life skill.

And to my Mom and stepmom and mom-in-law – it goes without saying you rock! I neglected to give you a blog shout-out on Mom’s day. Sorry about that. So much for the “decent citizen” part – you did what you could with what you had to work with. On the upside, I comb my hair regularly, floss, and eat all of my broccoli. I even take a vitamin. Usually. And I’m doing my very best to make the world a nicer place, and raise my boy to do the same. But I just can’t bring myself to wear pantyhose/knee-highs. Or eat beets. They’re just gross.

You all have a pair of pretty hand-knit socks with your names on them. See, you DID raise me right.



Can you keep a secret? November 9, 2007

Filed under: BG,blog,news,rambling — cocoapurl @ 9:04 pm

I can. Its one of my talents, I suppose. Some people are athletic, others good at math. I can keep my mouth shut. It may not come in handy as much as math (= Nobel Prize, or at least being able to calculate tip) or athleticism (= $$, endorsements), but it has its moments.

The second week of October is big in our house – BG’s birthday is the 10th, our anniversary is the 11th. This year, it wasn’t just any ol’ anniversary – it was our 10th. (We’ve been sharing the same space for thirteen years, actually, but you don’t get credit for the pre-marriage years. Maybe because they were probationary.) Since the tenth is the Tin Anniversary (or the modern equivalent, aluminum), the obsessive gift giver in me really needed it to be both a)Memorable and b) Keeping with the metal theme. I came up with a doozy, if I do say so myself: Race car driving lessons.

Those of you who know my husband know this is potentially a dangerous idea – not because he would hurt himself – he’s actually an excellent driver – but because it would be like giving heroin to a former cocaine addict. BG was very into cars and hot rods growing up – he has many fond memories of various male family members driving him and his cousins on country roads, very fast. This was in the days before shoulder belts, or even seat belts, in some cars, as well as, he feels obliged to point out, without strict DUI laws. He fondly recalls the six-pack rattling as he and his cousins butts’ rose off the seat over a particularly fast hill.

My next problem was how to pay for it. Being a race car driver, for even just a few hours, is not cheap (I’m sure a good portion of this fee goes to their liability insurance). So as relatives began asking what to get BG for his birthday, I mentioned my idea, and viola – donations to the BG-Racer fund began to come in. After some quick math, (with calculator of course), the tickets were bought. I’ve never taken longer to hit “Submit” in my entire life – I think I sat there for at least an hour.

The day of our anniversary arrived – though I was empty handed, I told BG that he needed to be ready and caffeinated for a significant amount of driving the following Thursday night. It was an Oscar-worthy test of my mettle – I told him nothing more than he needed to pack for two nights and put a full tank of gas in the car. My fabulous mother-in-law (who contributed significantly to the BGRacer scholarship) was coming that afternoon to hang out with LG while we were away.

He quizzed me and asked me and tried to be sly, but I was having none of it. As scheduled, we left right after my lecture on Thursday night.

I gave him turn by turn directions (for FOUR HOURS), hoping that his spatial superpower would fail with a lack of visual stimuli – I wouldn’t let him look at the map, and it was pitch black out. Sure enough, these factors short circuited his internal mapping ability, and he had no other clue where we were other than the “Welcome to Pennsylvania” sign.

The mystery remained as we got up bright and early the next morning – we needed to be there by 7:45 am, and I wasn’t taking any chances. So we were out of the motel by 7. I won’t comment on how attractive we were, but I did manage a shower and a cup of tea for me, coffee and danish for him.

It was pretty foggy out, but out of the mist emerged the giant “POCONO RACEWAY” sign, and BG muttered “No WAY.”

From then on, he was smiling so much I think his lips stuck to his teeth.

We went through a half-hour of orientation – me, BG, and three other couples and a single guy. We sat through the informational DVD, which, in all honesty, I tuned out as they were talking about the geometry of turn 1. It was more fun to surreptitiously watch BG as he soaked up every word, every moment.

THIS makes it go…

“THIS makes it go very fast… “

The other significant others and I settled in to watch as the boys got suited up for their ride (in addition to the drive, they got a three-lap ride as well). I am proud to say that BG was the only one that didn’t struggle to get in through the window – must have been all that “Dukes of Hazzard” as a kid. For some odd reason, I kept hearing theme music in my head, which ranged from the Rocky theme (when he was getting suited up, helmet in hand) to “Sweet Home Alabama” (when they were pulling out), to AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. Not ordinarily on my internal playlist, but there was an awful lot of testosterone floating around.

Happy. Very Happy. VERY Happy

Happy BG. VERY Happy.

At this point, it was becoming mistier and mistier – not raining, precisely, but the air was becoming more and more sauna-like; only without the heat. Sitting on the metal chairs under our pop-canopy, we (the other ladies and I) began to seriously chatter, teeth wise. And turn 1 was becoming a mystery – as we watched, the cars disappeared into the fog. This didn’t bode well – after all, those headlights are only painted on.

BG arrived back a few minutes later – turns out, three laps go pretty quickly at 160 MPH – with the report that they may not get to drive today. But he seemed not bothered at all by this info – he was positively giddy. I scanned my brain quickly for any withheld information that would upset him ordinarily – “They were on sale…I know its a lot for yarn, but they’ll be GIFTS…I forgot to take your T-shirts out of the dryer”, because now would be a GREAT time. He was impervious to disappointment, bad news, even shoe shopping. But I came up empty.

He didn’t get to take his drive that day, but we got a rain check for the following spring. As it turns out, I think this was a perfect way to go, because now he will have the benefit of anticipation, too.

Later that day, we went to an outlet mall, where I went, you guessed it – shoe shopping. On our way home, we took a “detour” so that I could go to Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival.

Still Smiling Tuckered

Still smiling…….. and note the race car hat hasn’t come off, even for a nap.

Pretty Yarn

Meanwhile, I’m manhandling all kinds of pretty yarn…

Yarn Rainbow Hats

All natural dyes – can you stand it?

I probably could have garnered all kinds of sweet deals for myself at that point, like lifetime exemption from cleaning the bathroom, weekly pedicures, or no diaper changes for a month. He was feeling, literally, no pain – not from shopping, or from walking around looking at people looking at yarn. He did eventually retire back to the car for a nap, but even for that he held out an awfully long time. Just IMAGINE if he had access to a race car all the time – what a happy boy he would be. But for now, I think him getting to sit in one and take a ride is pretty darn good.

I’ll keep you posted on when he actually DRIVES it this spring. We may not be able to get him out.



Planes, Trains and Automobiles July 20, 2007

Filed under: adventures,BG,LG — cocoapurl @ 12:28 am

It comes as a surprise to no one that our kid is pretty obsessed with all things mechanical. After all, it could be said that I am mildly mechanically inclined (if I do say so m’self – after all, I know “lefty-loosey, righty tighty”), and BG…Well, lets just say that’s his main superpower. Whenever I make the mistake of asking him how a repair is going, I usually get something like, “Well, there’s a flyrod that’s attached to a flange, which allows the piston…” At this point, I mostly hear a loud buzzing noise, but the point is, BG can instantly and easily visualize how something works, down to the last nut, so to speak. Its like having X-RAY vision, without the Peeping-Tom part. We’re still trying to figure out a way to exploit this power of his – sort of like having a numbers-blessed savant with you in a casino. If only there was a way to win a million dollars by being able to diagram something (TO SCALE!) in your head.

Anyhoo, LG is obsessed with trains, excited by cars/trucks, and pretty interested in airplanes. In fact, its a point of pride with my husband that LG can identify if a plane has a propeller or a jet engine by its sound. So it seemed a logical thing to go to the Annual Big Airshow. Armed with naught but a Radio Flyer wagon, Bunny Grahams, and about an inch-thick layer of sunscreen, off we went.

This air show is no ordinary show, I’m told – its “a big one”. This would account for us losing our car…but more on that later. Its held at a historic aircraft museum – which in these parts, means a small hanger with lots of pictures and a few airplanes attached to a cleared field airstrip. A REALLY big one.

Sidenote: This is the same airshow I took my Dad to years ago, during which he almost was carried away by hurricane force winds while trying to “save” a 2,000 lb. airplane from turning over. That’s my Dad, the engineer – had I asked, I’m sure I would have had a perfectly logical, physics-backed explanation as to why he would NOT have been flipped into the air like a pancake if the wind had decided to take the plane with it. But I didn’t ask. Besides, I’m pretty sure Dad loved every second of it, and because the wind ended up deciding against going all Dorothy on us, he was the ONLY thing that saved that plane that day, by gosh.

Getting back to our day at the airshow:

So much to see!

Who looks more excited? Tough call…

LG was pretty amused by it all – not sputtering with excitement, but most certainly entertained. BG, on the other hand, was pulling us (literally) from plane to plane, excitedly pointing out to LG all the design differences, introducing him to the pilots, putting him up on his shoulders for a better look. From that, LG mostly just remembers the plane with the teeth.

Highway to the Dangerzone
Can’t you almost hear “Highway to the Dangerzone”?

LG, for his part, was very into the one lonely helicopter there; the pilot offered the driver’s seat (wrong term, I know, but clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about) to all the little boys that wanted a look. A bigger kid, maybe 6 or 7, balked; but my normally stranger-shy boy immediately lifted his arms up to the guy, clearly giving the order “I go IN there!”

(I’m not being sexist about offering the seat to little boys, just stating the obvious. Girls were scarce, especially asking to sit in the driver’s seat. Maybe because we call it the driver’s seat. OK, THAT was probably sexist.)

I go IN there!
Leave it to my boy to find the dangerous red button.

After an ugly, low-blood sugar induced episode, (both me AND LG, quickly rectified by awful but so timely airshow burgers), we pressed on. The giant cargo plane was getting ready to take off…or do something….

(One of the annoying features of airshows for me is there’s so much PREPARATION. I mean, we watched this thing get ready for 3o minutes before it even started its engines, and then another 30 before it even moved. Oh, wait! They’re moving the chucks! Maybe…no. Wait! I think I see the pilot! Um….No. But wait! Guys in flight suits are telling us to move back – they must REALLY be ready now! OK, Buddy, watch this! Oh….no.

Maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad, maybe I was getting a little tired by then, maybe it was the jet fuel. I know its a thorough process, etc etc. All I knew by then is both LG and I were getting pretty gosh darn impatient.)

This thing was big and it was loud…the sort of loud that you know you probably shouldn’t be listening to. LG was having none of that, and administered safety procedures accordingly.

Safety first!

After we finally saw the thing lumber down the field runway, and we could hear each other, LG proclaimed, “TIME TO GO”.

I’ve never heard these words out of my boy’s mouth. Ever. Especially in light of the diversions in store. But he was pooped. All morning in the sun + running to every destination + sheer, stuttering awe + hamburgers + an hour or so after naptime = TIME TO GO.

TIME TO GO, Daddy.

But there was a problem. The F-14 (or F-16, F-18 – honesty, I didn’t really care at that point) was supposed to do its thing in 30 minutes. BG was trying to stall, and even suggested we shop(!) for a t-shirt for the little guy. You know he had to be desperate to kill some time to suggest such blasphemy. But alas, LG was firm – WE GO.

As we made our way to where the “parking lot” was, I began to get kind of a sinking feeling – the kind you get when you knew you should have been paying attention to something important. To wit: we had no idea, not one iota, or even an inkling, where our car was. The three or four rows of cars had become 10 +, two or three deep. (We weren’t that early – really.)

Worse still, we noticed there were people, tribes of families, wandering around like desert nomads in search of water. Family after family clambered by us, craning their necks in search of that familiar glimpse of roof rack, sticker, Mickey Mouse antenna cover. We joined in, convinced that we were in no such position – we were right over there. Yes, I’m sure of it – there’s the white RV we passed where the people were laying on top getting hammered….you know, next to the black Ford…

A half hour and several white RV’s later, I may have been getting a little testy, possibly directly in proportion to LG’s lack of amusement. I remember muttering something about BG’s special spatial superpower; where was it now – its ALWAYS his job to remember where we park…

And then, there it was…the sea of cars parted, and a single shaft of sunlight beamed down on our dusty green subaru. I heard the Hallelujah chorus in my head (another benefit of growing up with bad 70s-80s sitcoms – built in sound effects and laugh tracks at just the right moments). No sooner was LG strapped in when BG casually glanced at the clock – why, there’s only 7 minutes until the super-cool jet arrives! Whaddya know!

(While I don’t think he lost our car on purpose, it was just a little too pat in retrospect. My BG isn’t that underhanded, and my passive aggressive radar didn’t sound. STILL…)

The jet screamed overhead, dipped and looped and did its thing for about 15 minutes. BG stood outside the car, craning his neck to see what would happen next. Needless to say, LG and I sat in the car. In the air-conditioning. And quite happily, I might add.

A few mintues later, we pulled out, and BG dabbed the drool from the corners of his mouth and let out a satisfied sigh, as if he’d just eaten a large meal. Moments later, LG’s head bobbed and weaved, his pacifier fell out, and he was out cold.

My boys were tired, a little sunburned, and satisfied. Life is good.



Great Balls of Yarn July 8, 2007

Filed under: BG,rambling — cocoapurl @ 8:18 pm

Considering when I started this blog, I did mention that knitting is pretty up there in my priorities, it occured to me that I might write about it. I always have at least 3 ongoing (read: unfinished) projects, but one of my latest ones includes The Yarn Ball that Ate Rochester. Or at least, The 5-Pound Yarn Ball That Could Soon Be A Footstool.

Inspired by Mason-Dixon Knitting (in this case, the book, not the blog, but LOVE them), I have begun my own Plot-To-Divest-BG-Of-All-Gross-T-Shirts-Disguised-As-A-Shaker-Rug-Project. The ladies of Mason-Dixon call it Calamari Knitting – you cut said nasty T-shirts across from armpit to armpit in inch wide strips, resulting in inch wide loops of T-shirt yarn that you loop together into one long strip.

Inclusion of Cracker-Eating Boy for Scale

Inclusion of Cracker-Eating Boy for Scale

Now, the trick will be convincing BG that his well-worn (and to him, just right) tees could go to a better place – my giant ball of yarn. In BG’s mind, there is a very strict and time-honored lifecycle for his shirts:

NEW – The rules for this catagory include wash in cold water, no matter what, fabric softener (Sigh. “If you must”), and absolutely positively no dryer. You heard me.
SLIGHTLY USED: Modified slightly from above, except the occassional drying. This is more my rule than his, and I usually claim that it was an accident. Do you know how hard it is to find places to hang t-shirts around the house? In February? In Rochester?
THOROUGHLY USED: If there are blemishes to the fabric and or holes, the shirts are then subdivided into A: Work Shirts or B: Sleep Shirts. The criteria for each are far too complicated to discuss here…I think there is consideration to fabric makeup, lycra content, etc. This is the point I put my wifely foot down and declare a moratorium on public wear.

Now, as far as BG is concerned, no shirts will ever leave this last catagory. Even if its just an elastic neck band held together with strips to the armpit: it rarely, if ever, gets demoted to the garbage.

This is where my diabolical plan comes in. If I can present my case, oh so subtly, that the shirts will in fact live on in this rug of the future, and if they’re TOO worn, well, that would’nt make for a very sturdy rug. Hey, I’m not above using BG’s kryptonite: INEFFICIENCY (OR INEFFECTIVENESS) OF DESIGN. If there’s a way to improve something by modifying some aspect of your technique; well, I think he’d sooner eat wheatgrass than risk a sub-par product. Besides, I have an even more insidious superpower up my sleeve, the use of which leaves me weak, bewildered and in need of chocolate: passive-agression. I was raised in a passive-agressive petri dish. Don’t mess with me: you’re liable to feel guilty later without really knowing why.

If you or someone you love are subjected to t-shirts that have long overstayed their welcome, send them my way. Other possible removal tactics: Recycling, or any Green angle (including not having to use industrial chemicals to get the things clean), The Resurgence of Craft in America (Especially among the shiftless Generation X’ers). Or you could bat your eyelashes/flex your biceps. Whatever works.



Thomas the Train and Gender Reassignment June 2, 2007

Filed under: BG,kid's stuff,LG — cocoapurl @ 7:40 pm

BG is not afraid of a little modification. In fact, he thrives on it. While shoe shopping, I made an offhand comment about how the heel was too high, but that I really liked them. “I could modify that for you,” he said. He wasn’t kidding – he wanted to modify $90 dollar shoes to his (or my) specifications. I pointed out that it may make more sense to buy the right thing in the first place, but that argument fell on deaf ears. His gears were turning on how to balance them post-modification so that my toes didn’t point up like a leprechaun’s. He doesn’t come with me anymore. (Hmm, coincidence?)

I love this about my BG (not being irritating while shoeshopping, the modification thing). It makes him fearless and incredibly handy. Which is why I no longer blink an eye when he performs surgery on, well, anything.

We went to the Train Store this morning. LG’s eyes boggled. Somehow he was both slackjawed and grinning at the same time.

We walked out one hour and one minor tantrum later (we got off easy), with a box of wooden track and a Bertie car. I don’t know which one of my guys was more excited. Actually, I do – LG fell asleep in the car on the way home, while BG was busy coming up with the Perfect Track Configuration. It’s the perfect use of his spatial superpower.

(For those of you unfamiliar, there’s a whole gaggle of characters associated with Thomas the Train. I have a suspicion that some are completely random and created for the sole purpose to divest adults of $10 each time another one shows up. But that sounds cynical.)

Evidence of an Obsession
Evidence of An Obsession: The entire sheet of stickers off the paper and on his shirt in under a minute. All before breakfast.

Anyhow, while LG is still napping, BG spends a good hour and a half working on this track. But there’s a problem.

The Less than Perfect Track
The Less than Perfect Track. Note the trains lined up in the background. I don’t know who did this. I don’t really want to.

With a piece of the track in his hand, he says, “I need a female. All I have are hermaphrodites. Or are they bisexual? Anyway, I’m going into the garage.”

The Surgical Table
The Surgical Table
We Can Rebuild Her. We have the Technology.
We can rebuild her. We have the technology.

She Makes Everything Work Better
Five minutes later, he has sucessfully reassigned the gender of said track, or at least, one end of it. He doesn’t know yet what to do with the remaining, um, item. I’ll aslo refrain from the obvious commentary on how everything is better now that the piece is female. But behold the track:

Pure Boy Bliss

Pure Boy Bliss.