Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yes, I knit a dog.

A while ago a friend gave me a copy of Knit Your own Dog, a book I really wanted. of course, the moment it arrived there was someone else who was very interested in it. Cora looked at every page, but really there was no contest. She wanted a poodle. And she wanted it to be pink. Pink and white. With specific directions about which parts should be which colors. I read through the directions, tried to visualize them all, and it turned out it was possible to do it the way she requested.

I do like her expression.

A few weeks later we trekked down to Fargo (where the yarn stores are) and I bought the yarn - a pink boucle and some white Cascade. And I was ready to begin! One of the first things I discovered is that boucle yarn and I are not tempramentally suited to each other. Then, at the point where the two sides of the body are joined up to make the neck and head, I forgot one of my own cardinal rules of knitting: Just Trust the Directions.  I thought the directions were wrong. I thought I had it figured out how it should go.

Oh, I was so wrong.

Does she stand at a jaunty angle because she has great confidence?
Or because I might have made some mistakes?

To fix my mistake, once I realized it, would have meant ripping out 10 rows of boucle madness. I set the dog aside for two months. Last week Cora asked about her poodle; she knew I had started it. So, two days ago I took another look at it, decided how I would "fix" my mistake without ripping things out. It meant having the "wrong" side of the stockinette stitch facing out on the belly, but I decided I could live with that. I knit the head, learning and using the loopy stitch, which was fun, and then last night I stitched the whole dog together and stuffed it.

Pippsi's good side.

I propped her up (there was never any question of the dog's gender, given who would name and own her) on the kitchen island, took some photos, and left her standing right where Cora's cereal bowl normally sits.

Happy with her dog!

This morning, Cora got up, dressed, went out to the kitchen, and then the squeals of joy commenced. She named the dog Pippsi, which I think suits her quite nicely.

Cora and Pippsi making faces.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer: part one

Swimming lessons are summer's first order of business.

Finally, a bike of her own to ride!

Still not crazy about the helmet.

Summer solstice is here already - somehow I missed that six months in our new city had already gone by, and now the days already going to start shortening, though I doubt we will really notice it for another month or two. This has been Introduction to Kindergarten month, with Cora in a kindergarten class for the first half of every day, at the same school where she will start in the fall. It has been great - she loves it, especially the daily trips to the school library and getting to bring a book home for the night. Her reading is picking up speed, too. We've already done one round of swimming lessons, with round two scheduled for July. Yesterday we signed her up for a week long ballet camp, and in late July she'll get a chance to try out gymnastics, too.

July and August stretch ahead with great promise - I'm able to take some time off and concentrate on reading, writing, and sewing...and unpacking. We still have many boxes surrounding us. Plus, there are trips to the Y's pool to me made, picnics to be eaten, a county fair to visit, road trips to take, gardens to weed, and lots of fresh vegetables from our new CSA to eat! There are a lot of adjustments in living farther north - while most of them are winter-related, summer is also different. Having to wait to plant until the first week of June. The CSA won't start until the last week of June. The farmer's market just started last weekend. But, we're adjusting. We're doing just fine.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

People who love books: a note of caution to Summer Reading Programs

This is me at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara, CA. I worked there for 2 years in college - second best job I ever had for the job itself, best one when you consider that I met Chris there. Bookstores are great and terrible places to work when you love books. I don't think I need to explain that.

It turns out that Cora is also a lover of books and stories and really anything that has the smallest shred of narrative attached to it. She is starting to read a little for herself, and she loves looking at books by herself, and of course we read to her. Lots. Sometimes more than we might choose on our own.

On library trips, she maxes out her card. Her Intro to Kindergarten class goes to the school library every morning and each child checks out a book. Yesterday, the boy she shares a locker with accidentally took her book home. Oh, the tears! I asked her what the title was, thinking we could find it at the municipal library, and she cried, "I don't know! I can't read that well yet!" Do you know how hard it is to try to find the title for a book that has a purple cover with a cat whose tail makes a C on it? I sincerely hope that boy brings the book back on Monday!

So, it seemed like a natural thing to do, to sign her up for the Summer Reading Program at the local library.

Except that Summer Reading Programs are largely designed for kids who don't read or whose parents don't read to them much.

For example, a child can earn a coupon for a dish of ice cream for every five books they read or that parents read to them. Cora could be earning a coupon every day, were I to fill out her sheet honestly. On another sheet, you cross out an icon for every 15 minutes the child reads or you read to your child. Every 16 icons you earn a button, at 32 you win a ticket in the toy prize lottery (there are Barbie dolls at stake!). Again, if our sheet were an accurate reflection, we could cross off at least 12 icons a week.

So, why not fill out the sheets accurately, honestly? I remember doing a March of Dimes read-a-thon one summer. I must have been about 11 years old, give or take a year. I canvassed neighbors (who had no idea and pledged x amount of money per book I would read) and relatives (who knew better and pledged a flat dollar amount). I read lots of books. Some neighbors were appalled, some quizzed me on the titles, some were so aghast that I changed the sign-up sheet so they could give a flat amount (the $5 they anticipated shelling out instead of the $50 it turned out to be).

When it comes to reporting on reading, sometimes it is better to be modest. Especially if at the same time you keep your own list, in all its lengthy glory, to show off to people who will appreciate it, such as fellow readers and grandparents!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Two things I wish I had a photo of

Yesterday I saw a girl, maybe eight, walking her little tan pug on a leash. She was also carrying an oboe.

This morning, a young woman on a white sidewalk with green, green grass to either side, halfway between her parked red bike and a yellow house; she had a red bike helmet and a bright orange dress - not neon, just bright.

One made me happy because of the juxtaposition, the other because of the colors.