24 December 2009

Saying "So Long" to the Big Dead Tree

Ever since we moved into base housing (July '09), we've been surrogate owners of a big dead tree in our front yard. It was somewhat embarrassing because all of the neighbors could see it.

After all, it was big. Bigger than our house.

The neighbors, well-meaning souls all, would stop and render their opinions, "Your tree is dead", and their advice, "Hang some plants from it, dress it up a little". We always thanked them but there wasn't much we could do about it.

The ultimate decision was made by others, of course, and so it was that, on Monday morning, a truck equipped with a cherry-picker pulled up in front of the house and released two men determined to bring down The Big Dead Tree.

I felt sad. The Big Dead Tree hadn't been bothering anyone. Anyone at all.

Except, of course, my husband who kept having to drag the branches off the roof and out of the lawn to the field across the street. The Big Dead Tree dropped branches day in and day out. Some of the bigger ones crashed to the ground with a vibration that made the house shudder but most of the smaller ones fell unnoticed and simply lay quietly in the yard. Not bothering anyone at all.

The two men rode that cherry-picker basket up and down all day long, the incessant noise from their chainsaws threatening to explode the contents of my brain, until The Big Dead Tree was stripped bare.

Limbs and branches had been falling falling falling, booming against the ground in angry, noisy protest. Our house shook and trembled in response throughout the operation. When the sun set, the men left and The Big Dead Tree stood cold in the yard as if finally accepting its fate.

It was now a tall, bare, stump.

The next day, more men came and took their chainsaws to its body. The tall, bare, stump was cut into sections that boomed to the ground. The windows shook when they hit.

Soon, all that was left of The Big Dead Tree was a pile of logs lying in a mound of sawdust. It was the last time our yard would be littered by the old nuisance.

The men cleaned up the yard and took all signs of their activities with away with them. They left the yard clean as a whistle...

...no more Big Dead Tree. No tree at all, in fact.

Now that's sad.

~ j

21 December 2009

All I want for Christmas is a Fern Glade beret

This is the Christmas present I made for my daughter. It's a slouchy hat from the pattern Fern Glade. You can find it at knitty.com, my favorite site for alternative knitwear patterns.

I've used this pattern twice before and absolutely love it. I'm looking forward to making another one for my mom.

My yarn of choice is the bamboo-blend, "Spa", from Naturally Caron. The color of this hat is 'naturally 0007'. I've used 'ocean spray' for this pattern but I also have 'rose bisque' and 'soft sunshine' in my stash, patiently awaiting their turns.

The only adjustment I advise for Fern Glade is to take out the K1 stitch on Row 14. (Now that I look at it again, the editors have struck that stitch out and all is right with the world of Fern Glade.)

If you decide to knit this one up, you might want to use a stretchier yarn than I did. Knitting the headband too tightly or loosely can backfire if your yarn can't compensate and bounce back.

Lastly, I don't use circular needles. Just can't get a good rhythm going with those things. So I use dp needles. No matter which you choose, you'll need U.S. sizes 3 and 6.

I hope you enjoy creating Fern Glade as much as I have. You can find the author of the pattern, Megan Marshall, on ravelry.com or at her blog, I saw her STRANDing there.

Happy Knitting! ~ j

18 December 2009

Fort Knox creator and USO team up for Military Kids

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2009

Fort Knox cartoonist Paul Jon has created five special pieces of line art for a USO coloring contest for kids. The art features the Fort Knox characters, Major Joe Knox, his wife, Jane, and their two boys, Donald and Wesley, as well as typical scenes of USO events for kids. The top entries will be featured on the USO's blog site throughout the week of December 27th.

The USO reported an immediate, record-breaking response, with more than 130 downloads of the art in the first two hours the contest was posted. You can read all about the contest on the USO's web site

Fort Knox Cartoonist Paul Jon is a military brat himself, and he approached the USO with an offer to help military families. The USO came up with this project to give children something fun to do for the holidays.

Paul Jon is the son of an Army colonel whose tours of duty included Fort Leavenworth, Fort Jackson and Fort Knox. In addition to his daily and Sunday Fort Knox duties, Paul Jon runs the creative services department of a software company, and his artwork has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online publications across the country. He earned his B.A. in journalism from the University of South Carolina. He is married and has two beautiful goldfish.