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Fine, fine, fine, here it is. June 16, 2014

Posted by philangelus in sarcasm.

Fine, fine, fine, here it is.

You people, seriously.

You crocheted what? June 16, 2014

Posted by philangelus in family, knitting.

Scene: The Judgment Seat of God

God: Let’s talk about the morning of June 16th, 2014.

Me: Um…okay…

God: What did you crochet?

Me: Oh. Oh, no.

God: Well?

Me: You’re not going to hold that against me! The kids were pestering me! They thought it was funny!

God: And…?

Me: But…but…it’s just one thing!

God: Yes.

Me: Are you saying that one thing encapsulates my whole life?

God: Are you saying it doesn’t?

Me: Well, come to think about it, no, I can’t say that.

God: So what did you make on the morning of June 16th, 2014?

Me: A crocheted fake turd.


Maybe that’s during pre-trial, so that when you’re judged in public, you’ll be able to respond.

God: State for the tribunal the name of the person who taught you to crochet.

Me: My grandmother, {Firstname Lastname}

God: And state for the tribunal what kinds of things she crocheted.

Me: Lace. Lots and lots of lace.

God: And…?

Me: And…altar linens.

God: And state for the court what you were crocheting on the morning of June 16th, 2014.

Me: Do I have to?


And then the Tribunal gets to make sure they heard you right.

God: Does the Tribunal have any questions for the accused?

Tribunal: What did you do with it?

Me: I gave it to the boys so they could leave it on random chairs in the house.


Of course, God is a merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

God: I have decided I will not punish you for the craft item you produced on the morning of June 16th, 2014.

Me: Thank you!

God: I have decided that someone else will handle it.

Grandma: JANIE!!!!

Me: Um, yeah…thank you.

Revenge Yarn, warm and wooly May 19, 2014

Posted by philangelus in sarcasm.
Tags: , ,

Dear Local Yarn Store,

You may or may not remember me. My husband came into your store a week before Mother’s Day to buy me a gift. You probably don’t remember him either, but on gift-giving occasions he goes to your fine location and you point him toward all sorts of gifts for knitters. In the past, he’s gotten me a yarn bowl, a yarn buddy, numerous skeins of sock yarn, a pattern book, and a project bag — among others.

We like patronizing local yarn stores. Local yarn stores, so you tell us, may cost a little more than online shops, but the help you get is invaluable. It’s the guidance and the human touch that matter.

When he went into your store the last time (note, “the last time”) he brought with him a pattern and a copy of your sales flyer. I’d highlighted the brand and the type of yarn I wanted, and the pattern specified the yardage required. I was going to make a sweater, so he was making a big purchase.

On Mother’s Day, I discovered you’d sold him the wrong yarn, worsted weight instead of sport weight. So on May 13th, I went back with the yarn and the receipt to exchange it for the right weight yarn.

You refused.

I’ll repeat that: you refused to exchange the yarn you had sold him when it wasn’t the yarn I’d specified on the flyer and not a yarn that would work with the pattern he showed you.

You told me he’d asked for DK weight yarn. I know that’s not true because he didn’t even know that DK was a yarn weight. Moreover, it goes like this:

  • fingering weight / sock weight
  • sport weight
  • DK weight
  • worsted weight

So you sold him a yarn that was two levels heavier than what was specified in the pattern. You then said the yarn you sold him was a “light worsted” and could be used for the sweater, even though a “light worsted” is a) still a worsted and b) still one weight level heavier than the pattern said.

You said you hadn’t seen the pattern. Which I find interesting, because you knew what yardage to sell him.

You told me I’d highlighted the wrong part of the flyer, since the yarn brand name is also the name of a type of yarn. And yet the one you sold him wasn’t that name either.

So let’s get this straight: you are willing to lie to a customer rather than admit you made a mistake; you are willing to drive a wedge between spouses rather than exchange yarn; and finally, you are willing to blame the customer rather than read.

I told you that since the only reason he shopped here was the (supposed) personal touch and the helpfulness of the staff, my husband no longer had any reason to shop with you. You didn’t care. I wished you a good day and walked out the door.

On the way out, I felt nothing but relief. Because now I’ll still make a nice sweater (I’m already browsing patterns that work with the heavier yarn) and I will no longer accidentally patronize the shop of a liar.

My only regret is that when I walked in there, you had a table full of ladies knitting. And I really regret finding out afterward that this was actually your beginner class — the first day of your beginner class, no less — and that they had to witness you treating me like garbage. Do you think in the future they’ll want to buy from you, knowing if they (or you) make a mistake, you’ll blame them rather than exchange their purchase? I didn’t mean to have that conversation, no matter how politely, in front of your other customers. 

Regardless, I no longer care. I’ve scrubbed you from my Ravelry profile. No one who looks up my account will have any clue you exist.

And today I bought yarn from your competition. Twelve skeins of yarn, including a sweater-quantity of a highly-rated, beautiful burgundy yarn that yes, is sport-weight. I call it Revenge Yarn. 

Revenge is a beautiful sweater, best served warm and wooly.

Have a nice day.


The best day of your life? May 6, 2014

Posted by philangelus in pensive.
Tags: ,

Five years ago, I dashed home between errands to find that after ten days of failure, we’d trapped the cat.


I had almost exactly ten minutes to spare in my schedule, so I burned rubber to get the cat and the cage back to the animal shelter. She was bleeding from her paws from trying to claw her way out of the bars, and she kept yowling. I snapped the above picture because I didn’t know if she’d test positive for feline AIDS or FeLV and they’d put her to sleep before I ever saw her again. She howled in rage and terror the whole way there.

When the cat shelter volunteer unloaded her from the car, she said, “This was the best day of your life, the day you walked into that cage.”

Before I left I looked at the cat — bleeding, trembling, maybe about to be euhanized — and I couldn’t agree. She was fine outside, fine until she’d gotten injured. She’d survived for six months in a wildlife-filled, relatively car-free Swamp. She came when I fed her but wasn’t so hungry she’d walk into the cage for ten days.

Later we found out she’d been shot by a beebee gun, twice. Her leg was permanently wrecked. And from her behavior we deduced her previous owner was either neglectful or outright abusive.

Last week, while puttering around my bedroom, I heard a rhythmic, “tik-tik-tik-tik…”

The cat was sitting on the bed, looking at me lazily. I wasn’t interacting with her at all, and yet she was purring.

Our previous cats were happy with us. I have no doubt about that, although Hazel would have burnt at the stake before admitting it, and yet none of them ever sat there just purring. Purring because their human was in the room, purring because there was warm sunlight and a soft bed and a bowl full of food and a cuddly brain-damaged cat companion and no one to hurt them.

So was it really the best day of her life? At the time I said no. For six months after, while the cat slunk around depressed, I’d have said no. But now I wonder.

I looked at the devastating things in my own life, those plunge-points of tragedy where the ripples spread out and changed everything that happened afterward. I can’t say those are the best days of my life, those days where I did the equivalent of ripping out my own claws trying to escape the cage that had suddenly trapped me. I can see where they formed me, but you’re never going to get me to say they were good. Emily’s death created a lot of good (in the world, in me) for example, but I will never, never say her death was good.

Yet maybe the cat awakens in the night sometimes from a nightmare of a suddenly-slamming cage and steel bars, panicked, and would never think of that as a good thing. Maybe she likes where she is now but doesn’t connect it to the horrible stuff that came before. So I don’t know: maybe we never recognize the best days of our lives.

Timey-wimey…cars? April 3, 2014

Posted by philangelus in angels, geekery.

Some background:

When I got my first car, the much-beloved and still-missed Studentmobile, I put a statue of St. Michael on the dashboard. When I got the big blue minivan of doom twelve years ago, I wanted a St. Raphael statue, but I couldn’t find one, so I got another St. Michael. I figure the defender against evil is just fine for American highways, right, even though St. Raphael is the patron of travelers.

Last Saturday I went to the Post Offal to mail a hat to one of our blog-readers and afterward stopped at the secondhand store looking for knitting needles or yarn. None, but I did find a St. Raphael statue, about three inches tall and with a marble base. One buck.


When I paid for him, the cashier asked who it was, so I said, “My caseworker.” St. Raphael has been much better to me than I deserve.

For example, in 1991 I wanted a date for Valentine’s Day and he’s the saint of finding your marriage partner, so I talked to him for 30 minutes about potential dates and asked him to pick out someone for me. I’m sure he realized that if he didn’t get rid of me once and for all, I’d be back again eventually, so by the end of the week I was dating the guy who I’m still married to.

Walking outside, I felt a little surge: I could put him in my car.

I thought, “I’m not going to evict St. Michael. He’s been there twelve years.”

Come home. Put St. Raphael on my desk. Prepare for the rest of the day: violin lesson after noon and Kiddo4 for birthday dinner in the evening.

Next up: violin lesson gets cancelled.

Change in plans: birthday dinner out will be birthday lunch instead.

Pile everyone into Big Blue Minivan of Doom.


Patient Husband takes wrong route to restaurant and we get stuck in major traffic. 20 minute trip takes 60 minutes. We get there and there’s now a 45 minute wait, meaning kids wouldn’t start eating until 1:15.

Change in plans: McDonalds.

Patient Husband: “We should just stay in Ten Miles Away until 5pm.”

The Yarn Store took about fifteen minutes. Hmm. We decided to drop by the car dealership, since we’re planning to replace the twelve-year-old van sometime before our oldest enters college, on the grounds that whatever car I’m driving when he starts college will probably be the same one I’m driving when Kiddo4 graduates. I said, “We’ll just get on their list, and whenever they need an easy target to reach end-of-the-month incentives, they’ll call us. We might get lucky.”

At the car dealership: “We’re just looking at the pretties.”


We spent 90 minutes there, with the kids locking each other in display model trunks and clambering all over nice clean engines and putting footprints on beautiful leather seats. In desperation the sales guy took us for a test drive, and my Patient Husband and I made lots of one-liners and stupid remarks, and finally in a fit of panic the sales guy realized that if he didn’t get rid of us once and for all, we might eventually come back. And he couldn’t deal with that.

With tears and hand-wringing, he and his manager offered us $4000 over book value for our trade-in. I asked for more.

Um, yeah. Guess what?


I figured we’d get called toward the end of some month sometime, and I forgot it already was the end of the month.

But here’s the question: how did my guardian angel know in the morning that we were getting a new car in the evening? We weren’t even supposed to be at the dealership, let alone buying a car. Car-buying was supposed to happen in September. Or was that the Holy Spirit (who obviously would know)? Because in retrospect, that “You can put it in your car” feels a lot like “You can put it in the new car.”

I’ve written stories (unpublished) where angels have some non-linearity in time, and it would work with that. But…but… Really? Timey-wimey?

And yeah, St. Raphael fits just great.


A bunch of knitted fun March 22, 2014

Posted by philangelus in knitting.

Pictures or it didn’t happen? Well, these things happened, and I hadn’t taken pictures.

This is from the summer, only I never got around to photographing it. It’s called “Faberge” and it’s far more beautiful in person than you can imagine.


I went for the black/teal with copper beads to get a verdigris and steampunk feel. I really like how it turned out.


Using last year’s birthday yarn, I finally made a Silk Garden Scarf. This is breathtaking in person, and I love it, love it, love it. People stop me to admire it.


A pair of Evenstar fingerless gloves. Can you find the miscrossed cable? I figured no, and I didn’t drop back twenty rows to fix it. Mistakes give it character. No, really.


Two “Irish Hiking Hats” for the homeless ministry. More on that in a future post.

IMG_2658 IMG_2656

And then this, which is also a prayer request. We found out one of my husband’s relatives was diagnosed with leukemia. She’s in her early teens. Please pray for them. As for me, I’m not good for much in the world, but I can knit. Since she’s undergoing the kind of chemotherapy that takes your hair, I offered to knit her a chemo cap. Her grandmother suggested it be pink. Everyone else suggested it be soft, lightweight, draw attention to the face, and cover the hairline. I found this pattern on a chemo cap website:

IMG_2665Now the day before we found out about this young lady’s diagnosis, I’d received a gorgeous skein of Silk Garden Light as a gift. I wasn’t sure what to do with it since it’s a DK weight, but I knew a project would turn up. The next day, after we heard about her diagnosis and I went looking for hats, I knew why God had worked it out that I got given ths particular skein.

You’ll notice it’s not pink.

IMG_2646But it’s like a rainbow, and it’s so bright, so cheerful, so sweet. I hope she loves it.

Please pray for this young lady as she begins a two-year series of treatments, and also for her family.

Dignified conversation March 8, 2014

Posted by philangelus in kiddos.
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Kiddo4 has always listened to everything, but it’s more obvious lately. Driving with the radio on a couple of weeks ago, I heard him say, “Mom? What’s ‘dignified’?”

The word had just appeared in a song. How do you explain dignity to a kindergartener? So I said, “Someone who’s dignified uses restaurant manners all the time, and always wears church clothes.”

K4 is very, very proud — inordinately proud — of his restaurant manners. Like all the kiddos so far, he’s practiced them and works hard whenever we’re in a restaurant. Waiters love these kids, although I suspect it’s more by comparison to other kids than to adult diners. I have at times taken all the kids out solo at young ages to fine dining establishments like Dunkin Donuts and practiced our restaurant manners. For some reason, they really liked practicing them and wanted to do it a lot.

And as for church clothes, this is the boy who wanted to wear a suit and tie to church so he’d look like the Beatles.

He processes conversations a long time, though, so you get interactions like this:

Kiddo4, gravely: I use the sink.

Me: What?

Kiddo4, speaking very deliberately: I heard you saying to Dad, ‘I don’t know what he’s using to wash his hands.’ I use the sink.

Me: I said that to your father {note: weeks earlier} because there was no soap in this bathroom.

Kiddo4: Oh, I just ran the water on my hands.

Me: Yeah, that’s not really good enough. That’s just taking your hands for a swim.

A couple days later, I related this conversation to my Patient Husband, who said, “Oh! That explains why he pulled me aside and said, ‘Dad, those times I washed my hands when there was no soap in the bathroom, I didn’t just use water. I used shampoo.’”

So apparently not only does he think I’m too stupid to know we use a sink to wash our hands, but he also cares that we think he was walking around unwashed.

Rules are important to Kiddo4. We went out to dinner, and I ordered a margarita. Kiddo2 said, “Mom? Don’t you have to drive home.”

I said, “The rule is one drink per hour. We’ll be here longer than an hour.”

Kiddo4 looked up, his eyes bright. In an awestruck voice, he said, “Will you tell me when it’s an hour?”

I hadn’t parsed it out yet when my Patient Husband said, “You don’t get another chocolate milk.”

Ah, you see: one drink per hour. He knew we always told them to ration their chocolate milk in a restaurant because they’re not getting another one. But this time, this time for some reason, the rule was one drink per hour.

Anyhow, two days ago, we were sitting at lunch when he looked up  at me. “When I outgrow all my clothes, you can just buy me church clothes, and then I’ll always use restaurant manners, and then I’ll be….what was the word?”

“Dignified,” I said. But I think he’s getting there just fine in his regular wardrobe.

God knits a pair of socks March 6, 2014

Posted by philangelus in knitting, religion.

Chapter One: She hadn’t spoken to me in over six months when I contacted her about something. Two days later she replied, “I’m sorry for the delay, but we had to make some end-of-life-care decisions about my father.”

Flashback Prologue, two weeks earlier:

Me: Hey,  this is a really cool sock pattern for worsted-weight socks!

Me: Wow, worsted-weight socks knit up so fast!

Me: Well, I don’t like this pattern, but I bet I can make other worsted-weight socks. Here, I’ll order some yarn to do that.

Me: Hey, look at this awesome yarn! I love the green-and-purple. I’ll order two skeins of ‘vineyard,’ that way I’ll have one skein per sock.

{shopping cart screws up, demands I log in, logs me in to an empty shopping cart.}

Me: I’ll just re-add them to my shopping cart and buy them now.

{shopping cart screws up again.}

Me: This better work.

{re-add yarn to cart, make purchase, all fine.}

Three days later:

Me: Yay! My purple-and-green yarn is here!

{opens package, discovers brown, white, tan and rust colored yarn.}

Me: Wha…?

{checks online purchase and apparently the last time I re-added the yarn, I clicked on the wrong color. Instead of the vibrant Vineyard I got the much more sedate Riverbed.}

Me: Well, it’s still nice yarn. {{knits for five days, discovers each skein will make two socks, so one skein is leftover, untouched. Socks are beautiful, thick and warm.}}

Back to Chapter One:

Friend: I’ll see you in two days even though it’s all terrible.

Me: You sound like you could use a warm fuzzy. Hey, want a pair of socks? Actually, would your *dad* like a pair of socks?

Her: Yeah, wow, he would!

Author’s note: sock-weight yarn used for socks knits up at about eight stitches per inch and I think ten rows per inch of length. That means your average pair of socks has something like ten thousand stitches. But worsted weight yarn knitted up for socks is closer to four stitches per inch and only about five rows per inch. You’re talking about a pair of socks in a quarter the time. They don’t look nearly as nice and they’re bulkier, but they also don’t take twenty hours per pair to knit.

Chapter Two: 

Me: I wonder if I have yarn for slipper-socks…hey! Wait! I still have that other yarn! And look, it’s in manly colors! And I know it makes nice socks because I’m wearing the other pair right now!

{{proceeds to knit for about 5 hours straight, finishes one sock}}

Me: I wonder if I could make the stripes line up on these socks, because they don’t really line up on mine, but they’d look better if they’re not super-not-matchy.

{{finds place in pattern where yarn colors will repeat in proper sequence}}

{{knits for another 5 hours}}

Second sock finished. Yarn runs out approximately two yards after the toe of the second sock. Stripes are almost perfectly matchy.

Chapter Three:

Me: I hope they fit him.

Friend: Wow! If they don’t fit him, I’m wearing them!


I’m convinced God made these socks. Because I shouldn’t have had the yarn at all, let alone in that color. And I shouldn’t have had the experience knitting worsted-weight socks. And if I hadn’t made contact with this person on one of the infrequent occasions where I do see her, I wouldn’t have known to make them. And the fact that the yarn ran out with maybe six feet left…? That’s got God’s fingerprints all over it.

Please pray the recipient has a peaceful passing and for comfort and peace for his family.

My favorite Ash Wednesday blessing EVER. Really. March 5, 2014

Posted by philangelus in religion, sarcasm.

There’s a bumper sticker that always makes me laugh. It says, “Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you’re a jerk.”

(I’m toning down the last word because, well, family-type blog. But beware there will be….a rude word ahead.) {ominous fanfare}

Whenever I’ve seen that bumper sticker, I’ve laughed with relief: someone — finally! — understands me. I’m trying, and God loves me, but inside me I figure I’m a redacted-to-jerk and everyone knows it. But sugar-coats it. We go to church and the priest flinches, then says, “Jesus loves you” and leaves it at that.

Except once. My favorite Ash Wednesday Mass ever.


Because a priest told the truth.

Catholic high school. Mandatory Mass. Junior year. We’d all been split up by year to attend different Masses, and we got Father Prior (who was great, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. May he rest in peace, but I hope he remembered this afterward and got a giggle out of it too.)

We went through the readings and he gave a homily, and then it was time to do the ashes, and he began pronouncing the blessing over the ashes.

And he said, “Lord, bless these asses.”

Slip of the tongue, sure, but… High school juniors. Yeah, um. Cue everyone struggling to keep composure and even Father Prior battling laughter so much he turned beet red. And with tears in my eyes, I stood there, shoulders shaking, and you know what? He was right. Looking back on high school, we were teens — we were jerks because teens so often are. We had the draaaaaaama and the posturing and the attitudes and all that normal garbage that goes along with life in high school. Lord, bless these burnt ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms. But more than that, Lord, bless these asses, because all of us humans are capable of acting like an ass at some point or another, and we need your blessing anyhow. In fact, because of that, we especially need your blessing.

Jesus loves us all. And everyone else knows…well, you know.

How insightfully helpful March 4, 2014

Posted by philangelus in family.

“What’s that?” I said, squinting at some white fuzzy stuff hooked to my Patient Husband’s shoe.

I tugged it, then said, “Don’t move,” and I started unwinding a really long thread from both his shoes. Kiddo2 came over to help, and then we began giggling because there was like a mile of the stuff.

Finally I said, “Lift your foot,” and freed the last bit.

“Where’d it come from?” said my Patient Husband.

I followed the thing backward, backward along the tiles, until it reached the supply closet. I opened the door, and on the floor was a spool of white thread, dutifully unspooling its 150 yards of thready goodness in order to help hold the world together. I imagine the Brain-Damaged Cat snagged a bit of it under the door (he’s learned there are good things to be pulled out from under doors, even though he’s not entirely sure what they are) and from that point you can piece together the rest.

I said, “It would have been funny if you’d gotten into the car and driven off that way.”

My Patient Husband said, heartbroken, “But now how am I going to find my way home?”

I’m a total hardass. I kissed him goodbye. “You have a GPS.”

He brightened up. “I have two.”

Ten minutes later, Kiddo3 came to me, holding a Dead Sock. “I slid on the floor,” he mourned, “and it snagged on a nail, and now there’s this big hole in it.”

“Give it to me. I’ll see what I can do.” Because apparently the spool of thread knew it would be needed today, and it crept out of the closet because it was trying to be helpful. It just was ahead of its time.


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