My Husband, The Genius!

To be honest, I wasn’t horribly upset when my cell phone was stolen in Ireland.  It was the least of the missing items – and I didn’t like it very much.

I hate talking on the phone because I have a hard time processing audial information over a phone.  Listening I seem to be okay at, comprehending is hard, but answering in a way that makes sense is just too hard. Folks who call me get used to silence, followed by frustration.

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the fibro, but it meant that my pink razor (yes, it was 5 years old) was an attractive purse-weight and used only for emergencies.

I had craved an iphone for a long time, but I couldn’t justify the expense for either the phone OR the AT&T service contract.

But when I found myself in the market for a new phone, I came across a solution.  I found a used iphone 3G at ebay (it had a crack on the back so it was pretty cheap) and it had been jail broken – unlocked – so I could use a T-mobile sim card. 

An iphone image from the 4th

T-mobile actually has a department devoted to assisting folks who use one of their sim cards with iphones.  Who knew?

My local Tmobile office gave me the sim card, Gerry got me added to our current contract for $9 a month (we’d canceled my old phone in May) and I was good to go.

If I want internet that’s a whopping $30/month, but I think I’ll do without it and just use the wifi built into the iphone and scoot into a friendly caribou coffee when I need to surf the web.

I’ve had an ipod touch for a few years, now that has passed on to Gerry who’s making very good use of it.  So I was able to easily transfer all of my audio books, photos, movies, onto my iphone.

Last night as I was syncing my phone I allowed myself to be lulled by the siren song of the pop up status window, and to my dismay I found I’d clicked “Update” and soon my iphone was installed with the newest operating system.

Genius & Genius Jr

The newest operating system wiped out my jailbreak.  The fugitive had been captured.

My Hero

But then along came Gerry.  While I went off to bed with a very sore neck, back and legs, he sat down with the iphone and searched online until he found out how to jailbreak the newest operating system.

He said it didn’t really take that long to DO it, it was just waiting for the steps to install themselves that was the long part.

Either way, I’m very proud of him, and very happy to have my wonderful cheaper-than-I-would-have-dreamed iphone 3G back again.  Yay me!

How lucky I am to have a go-to guy who can figure things out like this?  I know I could have, eventually, but it’s a relief to hand something over when I’ve reached my own frustration level.

Pain Again

I’ve done a few days of Yoga this week at the suggestion of my physical therapist.  It’s DEFINITELY a stretch for me – physical, emotionally AND intellectually.  At Core Yoga, where I’m trying out a free week, the rooms are kept very warm.

For me, this is a sort of living hell (I know it’s wonderful for the stretches, but I turned so red in one class I really scared the teacher.) According to my acupuncturist I have a very HOT constituency (extreme Yang) and BOY was that evident in the first class I took!

They don’t heat the rooms for the C1 (beginning) classes, but the one I took came right after a C2 class, so the room was REALLY hot from that one.

After I figured that out, I went to an 8am class, which was much cooler, and I did a little better.  I’m definitely going back, although I have yet to determine if this is the right place for me.  It may be a bit more hardcore than I’m ready for.

I was heartened that there was one stout woman with white hair near me (we were about the same speed, but she had better balance) and other folks in the 8am class who did NOT look like Yogis, so maybe that would be the place for me.  I felt a little conspicuous for my lack of balance and extra girth in the first class.

Whether the yoga is having an affect on the pain is not yet determinable.  I’m still in that ‘first few classes’ state where I can feel the muscles I’ve been using this week, so it’s a different kind of layer of pain on top of the fibro pain.

This is the point where it would be easy to walk away, but I feel that would be in error.  I have to give it a better chance.

Right now, though, I think I’ve drifted into another flare up.  Achey, sore, very loud ringing in my ears (that’s the determining clue for me) and a sense of malaise and depression.

So I’ll sit and work today, I’ll try to get on my bike, and with any luck I’ll get the last videos finished for the Lace & Twisted Float classes.

In case anyone’s interested in what my videos are like, here’s one I just finished for the lace class:

5:30 in Raphoe

This morning I was up at 4:30am.  Heaven only knows why.  I guess my body is still readjusting to a new time, and the stresses of the trip may be catching up.

Of course, there are WORSE things than being awake to see a glorious morning over Donegal.


Yesterday we visited the Ulster Irish-American Folk Park – a wonderful recreation of life in 16th-18th C Ireland, then walk through a ship, then a recreation of life in 17th-19thC America.  It resonated with me in ways I hadn’t expected.


I don’t think of myself as Irish – partly because my mother and grandmother were insistent that we were Scots-Irish, a totally different thing (in their eyes, and I’m certain in the eyes of many)

That strong belief sprung in no small part from the religious convictions my mother’s family held (I was raised Methodist, but my mother insisted I be baptized Presbyterian. I’m STILL trying to figure that out…)

Gerry does a dead-on imitation of my mother, “NOT Irish, honey.  ScotsIrish…”

In my mother and grandmother’s minds, it seems that Irish = Catholic, and we were not Catholic.  We have more than one John Calvin Modesitt or James Calvin Modesitt in our family tree. Thus, we were – like so many others in Appalachia – Scots-Irish.

Greater minds than mine have been unable to clearly explain what I’m dancing around here.  There’s such a painful history of religious and class persecution, and as I try to explain to the kids my own understanding of it, I realize how little I can truly comprehend.  All this while driving a stick shift with my left hand and driving on the opposite side of the road.

Watch For Little People

Oh, I DO read a lot.  I try to immerse myself in different historical texts when I visit a place, but each person’s perspective can be so different based on where they stand (or their ancestors stood.) A well-intentioned comment made in ignorance might be perceived as insulting.  At least, that’s what I try to get across to the kids – who see themselves as Jewish.

Wandering the historical recreation created a few peaceful hours of introspection.  The kids had a blast with the animals (especially the chickens), the antique methods of existence and  the freedom to RUN and burn off energy in a very engaging environment.

For my part, I spent my time pondering that although my family is over 300 years removed from Ireland / Scotland / Wales, I’m only 2 generations removed from a time when spring houses were necessary to keep butter cool and if you couldn’t make do you went without.  My mother was born in 1919, her mother in 1889.  In grandma’s corner of West Virginia, in many ways it may as well have been 1789.

I spent a good deal of time in the Weaver’s hut, talking to the spinning woman (she was lovely!) and then in the American area I was unprepared for how homesick a red maple and dogwood would make me.  Dogwood always makes me think of my mom – her favorite tree – and there was on in lovely bloom yesterday next to the pig sty.

Chatting with another lovely re-creator I told her about my family history, the whole Scots Irish thing. She waved her hand and said, “Oh, same thing.  You’re Irish.”


For my entire life I’ve believed that my dad’s family name was French, but my notions are all falling away like dogwood blossoms.

Recently while digging through my family ancestry at the LDS website and, I’ve found that the Modesitts who arrived in Maryland in the late 1600’s seem to have sprung from nowhere.

Mysteriously, at around the same time a family named Mothershed can be traced from England to Maryland, all with the same first names as my Maryland ancestors.  I’ve read a theory on some of the genealogy boards that the name changed upon arrival in the New World from Mothershed to Modesitt.

The two names DO sound an awful lot alike, especially the way my family’s always pronounced it – Mod-uh-set.  Food for thought while I’m away from home.

One things for certain, we certainly LOOK like an Irish family!


Burning Peat in the Stove

As a perfect augmentation to our history lesson yesterday, the home we’re staying in is a blend of old technology and eco-friendly modern practices which are in themselves an excellent lesson for all of us.

The house has central heating, but it’s a BIG house with 19C inefficiency, so our host family heats the living room and kitchen with burning stoves.

Bread Crock & Peat

They don’t burn wood – they burn long bricks of peat wrapped in a layer of charcoal – with additional charcoal chunks tossed in when some more immediate warmth is needed.

The fires have to be de-ashed a few times a day, and if they’re not started (or revived) early in the morning we have a very cold kitchen to eat in. Peat and charcoal have to be carried in by one of the kids regularly.

The kitchen itself is divided so the refrigerator & cooktop is in one room, the sink in another, and the ‘warming stove’ in a third.  Cooking dinner is like running a relay, no microwave here! 

Thank heaven for M&S prepared dishes or we’d be spending more time than we’d like cooking, or more money than we’d like eating out!  We’re not lazy, but it IS our holiday…

Sweater Drying Above the Stove

There is a washing machine, a nice one, but our hosts use Laundry Balls instead of detergent (they kindly left some detergent for our American needs, we’re giving both methods a try…) And they have no dryer.

Clothes are washed and spun and hung above the kitchen stove, where in about 12-24 hours they’re dry and peaty-fresh.  It certainly makes one think twice about wearing a shirt only once – not a bad lesson!  We may put a laundry line on our back deck when we get home (but not inside, we lack the big old-fashioned kitchen! with room for clothes!)


Perhaps it’s like the physical sensation after taking a long, long walk, or a hard bike ride, when 30 minutes later your body kicks in and THEN you start getting hot all over and sweating.  Delayed physical response.

A Parsnip / Carrot / Potato Gratin, Homemade!

A week ago tomorrow we lost the wallet.  For all intents and purposes we’re back on our feet as far as having support here & backup in the US.

But it’s as if – physically and emotionally – the whole adventure is just catching up to me today.

When you have kids, and a husband who is counting on you to be the chief organizer, you tend to push the fear aside so you don’t unduly freak out the loved ones.  But the fear will always come back and it must be dealt with.  This morning is my dealing time.

And, to be honest, I’d rather deal with the emotional stuff now than have had one more thing to juggle at the time.  But that’s what’s got me up early, I think.

As I’ve said, folks have been SO kindthank you to all of you – but the loss of that darned wallet (and the funds therein) was huge.  [Me = dope]

I’ve decided that a small way I can thank folks who’ve helped us out is to give them one of my upcoming online knitting classes (their choice) if a donation’s been made to our ‘Robbed in Dublin’ fund.  It’s the least I can do, aside from a most heartfelt THANK  YOU!


Is anyone out there a flash guru?  Gerry’s finishing up a semester of classes through St. Paul College on computer stuff (Web 2.0 and Flash) and he’s having a DEVIL of a time getting one element of a page to work.  But upon this element his project balances.

He’s been dealing with more pain and exhaustion on this trip that we’d anticipated (the stress is getting to him, too!) and that’s clouding his ability to think clearly.

Gerry Stays Behind to Work

The past 2 days the kids and I have journeyed far and wide, enjoying our Irish holiday, while Gerry stayed here trying to make a button animation work smoothly.  I don’t understand Flash at all, but apparently when he swaps a button image it goes back to the root image and changes that, too, instead of saving a different version.

We all think differently – that’s the mantra of my classes – and I would NOT change the way Gerry thinks for anything in the world.  He has perspectives on things that I never see, and he’s clear-headed at times when I’m filled with confusion.

But the reverse is true, too, and I feel physical pain when I see him – like an toy shop wind-up doll – running into the same corner again and again and again.

He doesn’t seem to have the mechanism to back up and head for a different corner, at least not when he’s worried or in pain.  Who does? So he gets to the point where the stumbling blocks to finishing a project get bigger with every run-in with the corner, and he’s unable to see any way out of his dilemma.  It makes me think of me a few days ago when I just couldn’t figure out what to do next to reduce the agony of wallet loss.  Maybe he’s still experiencing that?

It’s so painful for me to see.  And there’s pride, too.  We all have it – me more than most – and Gerry is not usually a prideful person.  But when you feel that you’re not operating at top speed [Gerry], I think it makes it hard to get advice from someone who usually seems to skate through stuff [me], so my offers to kibbutz haven’t been met with much success.

Jaysus in Glenveagh

And, honestly, what do I know about flash?  Nothing.  It’s my OWN silly pride that makes me think I could be of any help whatsoever in this situation.

So we’re in Ireland, Gerry’s stressed and in pain, he can’t get his homework done for his project that’s due – oh, did I mention it was due today? – and I feel that I’m absolutely NO help to him at all.

In fact, I feel rather that I’m screwing up his whole semester by dragging him to Ireland, forcing him to go through the physical stress of travel, the mental stress of a new country, and the emotional stress of being robbed, just in time for him to NOT be able to finish his final assignment.

Oh, look, the sun’s up.  Time to go get some peat and think about this tomorrow.  For today, we – the family – are off to Enniskillen Castle!

Green = Euros, Pink=Sterling

Duck, Duck, Spruce!

I’ve been trying to get my ducks in a row, using organizational skills to help me re-align my always-too-high expectations of myself.  It’s working, but mentally it’s difficult to re-frame how I view myself.

I realized the other day that I have been having a very hard time remembering what I do from day to day as I knit up pieces.  Work I’ll do on one day will seem like it was done by a stranger when I pull it out the next day. (That may be because I’ve been crocheting instead of knitting…)

Parts is Parts

So my worksheets have become my best friends, I take copious notes of everything that I do (I’m a HUGE fan of the iWorks application, Numbers – I’m a groupie!) and I’m realizing that this may be the best way to work for the time being.

The two projects I’ve been working on lately (a doll for Interweave Crochet and a cute little duster cover in knit AND crochet) have taken me longer than I’d expected due to the constant notation.

I’m one step away from the old guy who writes down every thing that he eats every day.

But both projects are rather small.  Working and re-working them is a good way to ease into a new mindset about my productivity.

I love color

I’m trying to view this as an example that everything is in constant flux.  Nothing is carved in stone – not even STONE

Just ask the Old Man of the Mountain!

It’s not a bad lesson to relearn every now and then.  It’s good for the soul.

My online classes are doing very well – I’m SO happy with the students I’ve had (I’ve been very lucky!) and a recent survey I sent out to former class members is bringing me a lot of great food for thought.

If you’d like to take my classes in April, though, you’ll have to move fast.  This is just a friendly reminder that I won’t be offering the Guided Combo or Handbag class in May or June, so April is your last chance to take either before July. 

The Self Guided class will, of course, be able to carry on without me while I travel to Ireland and Ohio.  Work amongst  yourselves…

I heard today from TNNA that they’ve turned down my teaching proposals.  To be honest, I hadn’t expected they’d take them.

I’ve been pretty outspoken here in the blog (and to the Offinger powers that be) that I feel it’s important to treat knit and crochet instructors as valued members of our industry.  I feel TNNA/TKGA has relied on the love teachers have for our craft to offer them less in compensation/travel & accommodation than the average yarn shop offers.

That, and my classes probably didn’t excite them very much.

All’s well, though, as the design group I belong to, The Stitch Coop, has decided to rent space and teach some alternative classes in Columbus.  These will be open to the general public (and any TNNA members who’d care to join us) and will run June 10 – 13.

Stay tuned here to my blog for registration information, and let me know if there is a class you’ve been wanting to take with me (that is, if you’ll be somewhere near the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, OH in June!)

Ultimately, I think it will work out as a win/win; more folks can take my classes, and I can keep more of the earnings for my own offerings.

Max and Hannah do their chores around the house in exchange for their allowance, sometimes Max dusts & Hannah sweeps, sometimes it’s vice-versa.

Rhymes with "Riffer"

But I’ve noticed that since I bought a name-brand duster with a handle, both kids want to dust more.

But those paper refills are really expensive!  So I worked up a crocheted version using PolarKnit polar fleece yarn (a veritable dust magnet!) and after a few washes it’s still working well.

Here’s the pattern for the crocheted version, and a knit version, too! If you use one of these handle-with-prong dusters, maybe this will work well for you, too!