The Recliner

Today would have been my Grandpa’s 103rd birthday.  A few years ago my mom uttered this infamous – in our family – statement, “It makes me feel better knowing that if grandpa wasn’t already dead he’d be dead by now.”  She’s right.  If my grandparents weren’t dead already they’d probably be dead by now, but the week bracketed by their birthdays is still one that pulls at my heartstrings.

Adding to the angst this year is that we finally got rid of their recliner.  When my grandma died, I inherited this gem.  I was poor, just out of college, and furnishing my first apartments and home.  Somewhere in there Grandpa’s recliner became mine.  I didn’t care what it looked like because I just wanted a comfy place to sit.


Now the recliner has lived with me 16 years, which is longer than it ever lived with my grandparents. The chair has seen me and my boyfriend turned husband through innumerable head colds and bouts of bronchitis: nothing is better than a recliner when you are stuffed up and coughing.  My daughter has spit up, peed, pooped spilled, and snotted on this chair.  Throughout her infancy breast-milk was leaked all over it because I loved nursing in this chair.


When our basement construction started, heralding the end of the recliner’s life in the house, the baby chickens pooped on it while my daughter sang lullabies to them in the garage.  I hand medicated little baby Rosie chick in that chair.  There may or may not be mice in the chair because there are mice out there.


The time for the chair to leave our home had come.  No more would my daughter recline the back, extend the footrest and launch herself off her indoor playset.  Finally I could stop worrying which kid-friend would end up with stitches from emulating my daughter’s antics.  We will never figure out where that missing thumb screw goes: the one that fell out of the bottom one recline. I’m sure there is a whole set of knitting needles and stitch markers hidden in there, never to be found.


Before putting the chair out to the curb I went out to the garage, curled up, and read in it one last time.  The book was A Man Called Ove, a perfect choice because my grandpa could have been named Ove he was so much like that character.  I read, I cried, I remembered, and I watched my cats stalk spiders and mice.  Finally, I turned off the lights and, like a dope, said “Goodbye chair.”  By the time I got home from work the next day it was gone.  My mom said, “It was an awfully big memento,” and it was.


The first post-chair evening I was down in my study digging around in my sewing machine cabinet and for a moment I smelled cigarette smoke.  Throughout my childhood my grandparents were both smokers and that scent still calls up memories of them.  At that moment I realized that one of them was reminding me that my sewing machine belonged to my grandma.  I remember sewing Halloween and theater costumes side by side.  I still use her manual, filled with her hand written notes, every  time I need to sew on rickrack.  I still have a big memento and one that isn’t going anywhere.  All I need to do to reconnect to them is sew something and, you know, my husband did just mention that the chicken coop needs curtains.  (Well he actually said “The chicken coop needs window blankets,” but either way it means sewing project.)

A Continuing Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

Frustrated with their tiny knit presidential candidate situation the bad guys and evil Lego figures took matters into their own molded plastic hands, as evildoers so often do.  If no tiny knit Trump was going to be an option for them, they were going to create a leader they could follow.  As a surprise to everyone, mad scientist Lego has some pretty decent skills with the double pointed needles.

Voila!  Tiny knit zombie is complete and was presented to the leaderless toys, but something didn’t seem right.  While tiny knit zombie was evil and green he just didn’t seem presidential.  How would he attract undecided voters?  Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of a zombie – even a mouthless zombie who can’t eat brains – as president.  They needed to do something to improve his image.  

Mad Scientist turned to the real human election for inspiration, and with just a few stitches tiny knit zombie became a viable candidate.

Complete with red tie and a distinctive toupee, the toys present tiny knit Trump-like zombie candidate!  Now there is a brain enjoying leader any toy can support, or that’s what these guys hope.  Let’s see how he does against tiny knit Hillary in the debate.  In the meantime, we are going to keep him away from the baby toys, because the way he “kisses” their head makes the mommy toys a bit uncomfortable.  It’s like he’s smelling veal as he caresses their little heads.  Hopefully he can overcome that flaw.

Third post in a potential series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the second post here, and the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see for the zombie pattern and visit her site at


Another Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

I just couldn’t make a tiny knit Trump last night.  I turned my back on my plans at the last minute.  The debate started and my double pointed needles refused to be sullied with Trump yarn.

Then, the unexpected happened when a certain subset of toys revolted.  It turns out some Lego figures – with ringleaders mad scientist, witch, and Viking – joined with The Joker, Little People The Joker, and Two Face to violently protest tiny knit Hillary being the only candidate in our household.

It’s chaos here.  Tiny knit Hillary is safe, and recovering, but we need a second tiny knit option for president.  Who could have anticipated this turn of events?

Second post in a potential series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see for the pattern and visit her site at


A Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

Have you seen the amazing Mochimochi Land knit presidential candidates?  The maker of my favorite tiny knits released this adorable free pattern the day of the first presidential debate.  I was smitten!  What a perfect project to distract me from the debacle our United States election has become.

Image from Mochimochi Land 

My plan was to knit one candidate during the first debate and the other during the second debate.  I didn’t feel like I had the right Trump skintone yarn, so I started with Hillary.

Isn’t she adorable?  My daughter thinks she looks like a mermaid, because her legs are so short.  It took exactly one debate to go from yarn to tiny first-woman-supported-by-a-major-political-party-for-president.  I was a bit miffed when big unknit Hillary walked out to debate in a red pantsuit (Hello!  Did someone neglect to tell the candidates about their party color schemes?) but I stuck with Democrat blue for tiny knit Hillary.

Now here’s my problem.  I intended a balanced approach to this knitting project, but did you happen to see the news this weekend?  I’m not sure I want a tiny knit Trump in my female majority household.  Now, tiny knit Trump doesn’t have a mouth (neither does tiny Hillary) so I won’t need to worry about him saying distasteful things, but will I be able to leave him alone?  Will he make inappropriate moves on the Barbie Dolls?  What about the Lego Friends girls?  Will they be safe?  What if Ken and the Lego boys see tiny knit Trump act disrespectful and think his behavior is okay?  Do I want my toy room to become a hostile environment like that?  Or do I believe that was all part of tiny knit Trump’s past and now he’ll follow a script and be respectful.  Such a knitting dilemma.

Suggestions are welcome.  In the meantime the toys are conferring.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see for the pattern and visit her site at

A Knit for One Hundred Years 

How do you acknowledge 100 years of life?  The invitation clearly said “no gifts” but my fingers itched to make something to celebrate my grandmother-in-law’s birthday.  I wanted to make something soft, useful, bright and bold because she loves red and purple as all 100 year-olds should.

Nothing in my stash seemed right, so I was off to my local yarn shop.  Not only did they have this amazing purple alpaca yarn with bright pink highlights, but they recommended the perfect pattern, Trillian and even had a sample so I could see and hold it: an asymmetrical narrow shawl that could be worn several ways.  It would be pretty, soft, elegant and functional.  Thank goodness for real world yarn shops.


I had never knit a shawl before or anything this big on size 3 needles, and time and birthdays wait for no knitter.  It didn’t take me long to realize this was a more involved project than I had anticipated.  The knitting began to take over every moment of my free time and several moments of my not free time.  Soccer practices, conference calls, long drives, and parties all became opportunities to knit.  My husband drove everywhere so I could knit.  I became a public knitter out of desperation.  At the end I used my plane trip to Austin to knit for 2 hours non-stop each way.


Blurry car knitting

Deadlines are motivating and two days before the big party I cast off my last stitch and wove in the ends.  Blocking opened the lace edge and hid the little snare from my cat’s attempt to drive me absolutely crazy with her disrespect of the knitting.  The day of the party I wrapped up the finished object in tissue and set it in the gift bag.  10,570 stitches to celebrate her life.  It seemed like a big present.  Maybe too big.

Truthfully, I had never knit anything for her before.  My in-laws aren’t crafters, so I had not made things for them, because I never knew if they would be appreciated.   I set my lone gift bag next to a basket overflowing with cards.  Everyone else had followed the rules.  I was so nervous that my hand-cramping gift would be frowned upon that I didn’t ask her to open it.  After she danced, ate, and celebrated with a room full of friends and family I said, “I made you something” as I told her goodbye.  Desperate that my little gift bag not be thrown away or misplaced I also told my father-in-law, and his sister.  I was worried that she wouldn’t like it, but terrified that she’s never see it.

When the phone rang the next evening with her number displayed on the caller id my stomach flipped as I answered the phone.  “Johanna,” she said in her creaky voice, “I love my shawl.  Thank you so much for thinking of me.”  She loved it.  She loved the color.  She said, “I wish it was cold so I could wear it now.”  And just like her grandson – my husband – the thank yous were done and we were off the phone in under five minutes.  Who knew brevity was an inherited trait?

Tomorrow it’s supposed to dip into the 40s.  I hope she wears the shawl.  I like to picture her playing bridge, at choir practice, or doing crosswords at home wrapped up in warm softness made by my hands.  She is 100 in age, but still lives in her own house, does laundry in her basement, and leads an independent life even after being widowed the day I was born.  In the end, my 10,570 stitches are nothing compared to her 36,525 days on this Earth.

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Community Recap: Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5K

I’m thrilled that my “thought-provoking” equality post was featured in the Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5K recap along with three other bloggers. What a great opportunity to celebrate writing and running: two of my favorite activities wrapped up together. Join me next year? You’ve got a whole year to train! News

From September 19 to September 26, we invited members of the WordPress community to join us in one of our favorite yearly traditions: the Automattic Worldwide WordPress 5K (open to runners, walkers, cyclists, and hikers — and any other type of ambulation). Here are some of the stories and photos people shared from their corner of the world.

Live from Whistler

Our company is distributed, with Automatticians currently based in more than 50 countries. But once a year, we meet for a week to work and socialize in person — and we always set aside some time to run together, too.

Automatticians preparing for their 5K in Whistler, Canada. Automatticians preparing for their 5K in Whistler, Canada.

This year, our Grand Meetup took place in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. And on the morning of September 19, a few dozen of us braved the chilly early-morning weather for a 5K in the lush mountain landscape. If this…

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Equality? #wwwp5k

img_4616“Gender inequality doesn’t exist anymore.” My husband declares with the emphasis of someone seeing his inherent privilege fade away. He goes on to outline the female project manager giving him fits, the multitude of females at high levels in his company and his aggravating female client. For an engineer who started his career seeing cubicles filled with monthly images of scantily clad women wielding power-tools, this twenty year rise of women from calendar to manager has been rapid and probably unexpected.

I can’t really argue too much with him. I manage a team of engineers, half women and half men. With our matching engineering degrees we make the same amount of money.  (Well, we leap frog. When I get a raise, I make more. Then he gets one and he makes more.) We have similar responsibilities, similar jobs, similar flexibility to balance parenthood and employment.

We both coached our daughter’s soccer team. He does the dishes and laundry. I shop and cook. He fixes the broken fence; I sew buttons on when they fall off. I handle plumbing issues and he handles electricity.

We raise our daughter to love math and science. We raise our daughter to sing and love books. We raise our daughter to be a strong person and gender roles aren’t a topic we ever think to discuss. In her world the best mathematician in her class is a girl. The best speller is a girl and the person with the best handwriting is a girl.

But I’m a runner. I love running when I travel for work. Last week I left my hotel room with my phone in hand and my room key in my pocket. I don’t wear headphones when I run, because I know it’s not safe. I hate holding my phone when I run, but I’m somewhere strange and no one knows I’m leaving and no one is expecting me back. On the off chance something bad happens I can call. On the off chance something really bad happens the last known location of my cell phone might be traceable.

I’ve taken a self defense class. I know what to do if I’m attacked. I know where to gouge how to shout and how to best strike someone to knock them out. I know that if someone attacks me with a knife I’m supposed to grab the blade. My stomach clenches every time I think that: grab the blade. Can you imagine? Have you ever imagined? If you are woman, you might have. If a man, probably not.

I never go for a run and don’t think of my safety. I vary my route. I’m aware of my surroundings.

In Austin I jogged out to my favorite run along Town Lake. Somehow I got turned around and found myself out on this amazing path I’ve never seen before. Maybe I usually run on the opposite shore or maybe I go the other direction?  Regardless, this new route was filled with people so I felt safe and headed out to enjoy an adventure.

Then I came to a fork. One side continued next to the river and the other diverted off into a wooded sanctuary. One side was safe and the other was unknown. I stopped and waited. Every single runner, walker, cyclist stayed on the main path. No one turned. No one sought out the shady refuge from the 92 degree heat. Minutes passed, and my desire to keep running waned. I turned around and headed back the way I came. As I neared my hotel I wondered what was down that path. Was I just being silly? Then I remembered the woman who was attacked the week before walking in my neighborhood. Better to be safe than sorry.

The genders are equal in lots of ways. But my little girl and I will have many conversations in her life about how to keep herself safe. How to make sure she has a friend watching out for her at a party. What the consequences could be if she drinks too much. How to be aware and not look like a victim. Why she shouldn’t wear “that dress”. If she’s a runner I’ll teach her what I’ve learned, and hopefully she won’t take the wooded path either, even if it calls to her soul. Safety first.

My husband and I are equal in many ways, but I have long hair and breasts and physical attributes that mark me as a potential victim.  I am smaller than my husband and I have soft places that bad men want to hurt and probe. My daughter has smaller softer places. I am weaker and could be overpowered by most men, if they wanted to. I have to teach my daughter things I would never teach a son. Just like black families have to teach their kids how to act if a cop pulls them over, which is something that I would never think to teach my white daughter.

“Have you ever worried about you safety?” I ask my husband when I get home from Austin. “Do you worry about being in a park after dark, or walking to you car at the airport?”

“No. Why?” he asks.

The conversation has to start somewhere. With a kneel at the anthem. With a conversation between two almost equals who love each other. Inequality exists.

My musings from my 5k around Austin, Texas and part of the WordPress WWWP5K.

Austin Run – #wwwp5k

I didn’t head out for a run in Austin to develop an equality epiphany.  My original goal was to share one of my favorite running cities with the #wwwp5k crowd.  I started with a simple thought, “Hey!  Wordpress is doing a bloggy run thingy?  I blog (occasionally) and run (even more occasionally) so I accept your challenge WordPress!” Everything about the blogging while photographing while running challenge made my multitasking soul tingle.

Even better, I found myself in Austin away from my family which meant my normal wife and parent duties could be replaced by a photo blogging run.  Austin is one of my favorite running cities, and I have epic running memories there.  I did my only marathon in Austin. I had an amazing trail run wipe-out in Austin, and hours afterwards gave a speech in front of hundreds of people.  Unbeknownst to me I didn’t bandage my wounds well, so during my presentation blood began dripping down my leg from under the gauze.  (Let me tell you, people really pay attention when you are up on a stage, leg oozing blood, and you are wearing a skirt and heels.)  Austin is a running happy place for me, and Town Lake?  It’s a special idyllic natural haven in the heart of downtown.

Now, I had a run in mind for this blog challenge.  A run I’ve done many times out toward Zilker Park.  It is about 4 miles, so met the requirements of the #wwwp5k.  Yet somehow my plans went awry and I found myself a lost and the miles stretched out as I explored a new path.  Other runners, have you ever had that happen?  Somehow my 5k stretched into an 11.8k run/walk.  (Map and mileage courtesy of Map My Run.)


Now, before you get all impressed with my running ability – “Well I’ll just run…let’s say…over twice as far as I planned” – you should know a couple of things.  1. I live in Colorado and was running in Austin.  Sea level is totally my friend.  2. I didn’t run all 7.3 miles.  I ran out the whole way and then ran/walked on the way back, so I ran a 5k and then went extra at a variety of paces.

Let me show you this amazing running city!  First off, proof that I was in Texas. Even the pedestrian bridge that runs across Town Lake features Lone Stars.  Yee haw!


It was here, just over a mile in, that my route went awry.  I think I turned left off the bridge when I normally turn right.  Or maybe I don’t usually cross this bridge?  Anywhoo I was not on my planned route, but not lost.  As soon as I passed under a bridge, heard high pitch squeaks from above, and saw this warning sign I knew: Congress Street.


Only in Austin.  You see, lots and lots of bats live under this bridge.  Their nightly flight is an Austin tourist must.  It is also something I try to avoid on my early evening runs, because while I think bats are super cool, the idea of running through gobs of them is a little creepy.  (Yes, a bunch of bats is called a gob.  Look it up.)

Past the bats I start seeing the things that make me really love running on Town Lake.  The water, the water birds, the lush greenery and look!  Rowers!  I don’t see many rowers in Colorado.  One specific lady caught my eye.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the woman in the back of the nearest boat is rowing in a hijab.  It was 92 degrees out, I was sweating buckets in my tank top and running shorts, and this amazing lady is out there rowing.  I wanted to jump into the lake, swim over and applaud her ability to exercise in that heat with a head scarf.  Seeing her got me thinking about equality, and how much of the world is up and arms about what women choose to wear on their heads, or at the beach, or while participating in the Olympics.  It seems like we are always wearing too much or not enough to cover or show off our bodies.

My brain was working when suddenly, my dirt path changed and I was running on this really cool winding concrete bridge thing.


I’m assuming this gorgeous path is new, otherwise I’ve been missing an awesome run for years.  I got into my groove and passed some pretty standard running icons:

Ah mile markers.  I only saw this one, which really gave me no idea how far I’d gone, since you need two for context, but I kept going.  Then I saw an outdoor workout area that no one was using, or has ever used.  (Really, does anyone ever use these things that are on all running paths all over the United States?  Anyone?)  Just past the vacant outdoor gym I came to a shaded path that looked like a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day.  It jutted out into Town Lake and no one was on it.  This was the location of my equality epiphany.


I jogged in place a bit, then just stopped and waited to see if anyone went on or came off the trail, but no one did.  As much as I wanted to explore, the solitude just didn’t seem safe.  I ran out a bit farther, then decided that it was hot and I was tired, so I started walking home.  I was vacillating between feeling like a wimp for skipping the shady trail and feeling proud for being safe.  As I was berating myself I was distracted by this odd sign.

No fishing on this concrete sidewalk please.  The hooks get stuck in people when  you cast and really, we’ve just heard the sidewalk fish just aren’t biting.  Also if you do manage to catch one they taste really gravely.  No fishing in this area.  It’s best for everyone.

I might have decided, during the walking part of my run, to check out the Pokemon Go scene.  Nothing like contradicting your “don’t go down the scary path” safety decision like pulling out your phone and playing a game while walking.  I don’t usually do this.  I feel that Pokemon Go is a fun thing to do with my kiddo but not something I interrupt my workout time with.  But I was walking, and Austin has much different Pokemon than Denver does.  Really.  I’m not making excuses to justify interrupting my run with playing a game on my smartphone.  Well, let me tell you something readers.  Those Pokemon developers have a really annoying sense of humor, because this is the creature that popped up on my “run”:

Oh yeah, Pokemon Go developer?  You are going to mock me while I’m out exercising?  You are going to throw a Slowpoke at me?  I mean, I know I stopped running to walk a bit but do I deserve this?  I did not, but since I was wasting battery life, and having a charged phone – and not being distracted by Pokemon Go – is key to being safe, I stopped my game.  I acknowledge that my aforementioned multi-talking soul took it too far here.

With the sun setting I picked up the pace to ensure I missed the gob o’ bats.  (Did you look it up yet?) and then stopped to photograph the paddle boats heading out to watch the evening bat surge.

With that I headed back to 6th street and down to my hotel, managing to catch this last selfie as I went.

Austin, how I love your running scene.  Whether I’m heading out to Zilker Park, my planned run, or exploring this newly discovered “Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail” and boardwalk, I’m never disappointed.  Readers, I hope you all enjoyed the run, and check out Town Lake the next time you are in Austin.  Watch out for virtual Slowpokes and literal bats!  Oh, and be safe out there, wherever your feet take you.

Second part of my musings of my 5k around Austin, Texas and part of the WordPress WWWP5K.

Grown Up Bubble Guppy Sighting

Alert!  Just outside of the University of Austin is a statue of an adult Bubble Guppy.  They become so majestic when they mature. Who knew?

(I realize this post has a limited audience, but you Nick Jr aficionados who are now humming the tune to bu-bu-bubble bubble bubble guppies should appreciate this image.  For the rest of you? I refer you to Wikia to learn the wonders of this childhood underwater sea cartoon.)


-image from Wikia 

Call me farmer Afthead

The Afthead family got some chickens.  After the rough experiment fostering kittens last year we left the mammal group of the animal kingdom in favor of the bird group.  Meet Buffy, Rosie and Hope.


“What?!?!  You got chickens?” asks Hope.  The girl with her face in the camera was named after Hope Solo.  We got the chickens during the Olympics and little Afthead decided the representative of the Ameraucana breed had to be named after an American athlete.  As a big soccer fan she decided Hope was a good chicken name.  (Given Ms. Solo’s antics during the Olympics I think having a chicken named after her is appropriate.)

This goofy girl is a Buff Orpington.  I really wanted to name her Buff Orpington the Third, because she’s such a formal sounding breed, but Mr. Afthead won these naming rights.  Buffy was the obvious choice for this brave vampire hunting fowl.  In the coming years I’m hoping that in between laying eggs for our family she’ll star in her own sitcom or maybe a movie about a vampire, werewolf, chicken love triangle.

Finally we have Rosie, the littlest of the chickens.  From the beginning she’s been the sweetest, the most friendly and, of course, was the one that almost got sick and died the first week.  Yeah, we appear to attract sickly animals.  After panicked googling, visiting feed stores, and syringe watering this little girl she’s now in great health.  All that hands-on attention in those early weeks has made her brave, well socialized and willing to pose for pictures.   “Who’s a pretty bird?  You are Rosie!”  Momma Afthead got to name this one, and I went for the obvious color-related name for this member of the Rhode Island Red breed.

So that’s our flock.  Really, I have no idea why we are trying this adventure.  We aren’t big local food people.  We aren’t even big egg eaters.  I think Mr. Afthead wanted a project, and converting little Afthead’s old playhouse to a chicken coop seemed like fun.  Of course little Afthead was in: what kid doesn’t want chickens?  It’s all I could do to keep her from grabbing bunnies, turkeys, miniature goats and peacocks from the feedstore the day we got the birds.  Man, that kid loves animals.

Me?  I’m still on the fence about about being a chicken farmer.  While I love them much more than I expected I don’t appreciate my morning, “Are the chicken’s dead?” routine.  I’ve never cared if skunk, fox, coyote, stray dogs, feral cats, or opossum lived in my backyard before, but now they are all chicken dismembering predators waiting to infiltrate every nook and cranny of our chicken habitat.  Ugh.  I’m crossing my fingers and hoping we can get these girls through to the spring, so at least we start getting some eggs.  I’m also hoping if something gets them it isn’t a week when my husband is traveling.  I don’t want to handle a chicken murder scene alone.

Now off to go find some overalls, a nice straw hat and a toothpick to chew.  Come back soon, y’all.  I tell ya more chicken stories.  Ah yup.  “Bawk!”