Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Potato Chip Scarf

Now for something completely different.  I offer you,,,courtesy of my dear friend, Carol Sue, the directions for a lovely scarf , ta - da....
the Potato chip Scarf.    I consider myself a novice when it comes to knitting.  It's odd but 20 years ago I knew a lot more than I do  today.

Back to subject - if you know the basic knit stitch you can make this scarf.   It can be made on just about any size needle with just about any yarn.   In this project I chose Sz. 8 needles and a lustrous bamboo yarn that would be considered  worsted wight.

Cast on 20 sts.

 Knit the 20 sts.
*Knit 8 sts.  Turn project and knit the 8 sts.
 Knit 6 sts.   Turn and knit.
 Knit 4 sts.  Turn and knit.
 Knit 20 sts. *
 Repeat until scarf is the length you want.
 Bind off.

 Note,,,when you 1st begin to knit, two appendages will appear. (lol)  Maybe they look like potato chips to someone. 

 Keep on knitting and soon the scarf will start to turn on itself and make
a sort of ruffle.
This is as far as I've gotten on 1- 3 oz. skein.  I will probably go thru 2 more to get the length I want, but every yarn will be different, depending on yardage. 

Fair warning to friends and family....expect one for Xmas.

It's a fun and easy project that I like to do while watching the Tube in the evening.  
It's fairly easy to keep track of your place in the pattern,  I just make sure that I end each session with a K20 row.

I hope someone gives this a try.  Be sure and post a photo if you do.
Good luck  and have fun!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Devil in the Details

Hello, friends and neighbors. First of all .. huge congratulations to Suzanne Collins and "The Hunger Games.  More kids reading and loving it...  a wonderful turn of events for all children's book writers.
Today I find myself  in a peculiar least for me... situation in my writing.
     Most of my earlier books have been Nature based and in a Non fiction format.  They have been written for Young Readers or they are Picture Books that weave tales of the Natural World into bedtime reading.   My 2 fiction tales for YRs  definitely have protagonists, but the character development was limited for the story and age of the reader.
     Now, creating 4 major characters in a MR/YA genre is proving to be quite a challenge.   Kids today are sophisticated readers and expect no less in their reading material than I would myself.  If a writer develops a novel then that novel had better BE developed!
     OK.  Let's start at the beginning.  How many main characters?  I'm doing 3...two girls and a boy.  Why are they friends?  What do they look like?  Are they good students?  Sports?  Are they popular or outcasts.  There are a million and one details to think of and keep track of.  I do believe they'll be just starting Middle School, so parents must be involved.  Are they central to the story or just on the fringes?  What about teachers?  Is their a favorite or a pain in the butt type?   How about the bad guys?  They say every good story must have conflict that must come to some sort of resolution.  Do we stick to the real problems that affect teens or do we walk down another type of path. ..the path to an alternate reality?  No vampires or werewolves allowed!  Perhaps some other type of entity.  But what hasn't been done before?  Besides the ubiquitous vamps and weres there are wizards, witches, elves, fairies, dwarves, orcs, dragons and all manner of ghouls and goblins.  How does one do it up differently?
    Now we come to location.  City?  Burbs?  School?  Each person and place must be fleshed out and God forbid there should be a conflicting detail!   Oops!  Lucy's father is a teacher.  It's Tyler's father that runs the restaurant.
     I start out with 3x5 cards for each major character but soon the cards are not big enough as each "person" develops...a person with loves and fears and must stay true to the character traits.  the cards turn into pages with headings....I hope I can keep them all straight. you can see...keeping track of all this is quite daunting and we haven't even touched on the most important detail of all... the story!  Is it a romance? A mystery?  An urban warfare situation?   Does the writer write about what he or she likes to read or follow the latest trends of  this years crop of popular themes?
   Will this imaginary seed grow to be nutritious or beautiful or just another weed in the vast field of KidLit?
     Hopefully I will take myself and the project seriously and perhaps turn out something worth reading.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A change in the weather & a change in me

Well, it seems that with the change to Daylight Savings that Spring is actually here.  Along with the anticipation and the  birth of new plants and animals, I must recognize the responsibilities that arrive with the Season.  The yard is full of winter debris ; branches, stones, the ubiquitous plastic grocery bags and mole hills, giant mole hills that look like the work of some crazed prairie dog that lost his way to Albuquerque.  After all this is picked up and hauled away to the proper place we move on to step 2.  This clean-up requires one of Mike's make-do inventions that involves a length of fence, some 4x4s, a couple of concrete blocks and sometimes the springs of my vintage glider.  He then pulls this contraption behind the tractor to de-thatch, drag and rake all at once.  Works for me!
Now on to the really fun stuff- opening the Pond.  I won't bore you with details but rest assured it involves smelly water, lots of mud, a few dead frogs and heavy labor, Oh...and a lot of cursing.  Then it's on to the flower beds, the vegetable garden, the pruning, the raking, ad infinitum.
The point of all this; I must change my habits.  All winter long I've been waiting to "do" the computer until after Messrs. Stewart and Colbert , which puts me at the laptop at midnight.  Now ...go through 60 -70 emails.  Log on to Facebook, where I look at every post and picture and because it's hard for me to keep my opinions to myself,  comment on most of them.  On to the Word Games.  Don't get me wrong.  I love all of them, but when it 2am it's hard to come up with those high-score words. 
So I leave FB and move on to my Blog...must check the stats everyday, then read the blogs of people I'm following.  A lot of talented people out there.
Now, my latest infatuation, FlickR.  I can't stop myself from clicking that Reload button just "one more" time; so many beautiful and thought provoking photos to study.  Now it's 2:45 and I finally Log Off, but my brain isn't ready to shut down and requires a book and at least 1/2 hour of reading...."read to me Patti"....before I can get to sleep.  Finally at 3:30 it's lights out.  Needless to say, an early rise is usually not in the cards.  I know I'll never be one of those annoying "morning people" that's up at the crack of dawn ready to go.  They should all be restricted to an island somewhere so reasonable people can sit and drink their coffee and do their Crosswords for at least an hour.  Seems reasonable, right?
Long story long...I have to change.   From now on my computer time will be restricted to early afternoon  and evening.   Much of my writing I do with a good old fashioned pen and paper and it's done whenever or wherever it demands.
BTW, my work in progress, a MG/YA novel is giving me fits! 
More on that later. I think I feel a nap coming on.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Caution... Poetry Ahead!

A couple of poems that I wrote as a challenge.....for what they're worth...


There is a cemetery I know,
Rarely visited, barely tended.
As I wander amid the mossy stones
I think of those that were loved and then lost.

Here, a Soldier, lost for someone else's Freedom.
There a child, too fragile, too young.
Here a Great-Grandmother- all her offspring, listed as numbers,
As if she wre trying to outdo her neighbors.

And what trgedy befell this family,
Dying together so long ago?
Who wrote this sorrowful verse engraved on this crumbling stone?
Barely legible but with an echo that fills my eyes with tears.

Do others wander as I do?
Not for the history but for this strange feeling of peace that falls so softly.
This quiet pine scented place seems crowded with friendly folk.
Happy to have a visitor.

"Set down and chat a spell.
I'll put the kettle on."

                                           do you think you know me - 1

                              Blazing anger.  The eyes I thought I knew
                                     hold no forgiveness.
                              My friend, my sister of the heart.
                                     Where did she go?
                              What did I say to make her leave?
                                      I sit and think.

                                      bereft, bewildered, trying to remember.
                               Only remembering tears.
                                       I can't defend myself,
                                Therefore I must be guilty.
                                       But why?

                         do you think you know me -2

                                 Days I sit and wonder.
                                  Nights I search my conscience.
                                   How long do I wait,  leaving messages that aren't returned. 
                                  Sorrow turns to anger.
                                    Anger turns to apathy.
                                      Finally an apology,

                                  Impersonal email.  Vague excuses.
                                    "I'm under stress.  I need some space."
                                       I guess I don't know you.
                                   You definitely don't know me.

If you're up for it...I also have a Limerick

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Musings of a Woods Walker

Blue skies, a brisk southerly breeze and temps. in the mid 60s.  Even though it's only the 7th of March, Spring Fever has me anxious to explore.  It's a perfect day for a walk in the woods.  Due to our strange non-winter the ground is bare and even the mud season seems to have passed us by.
I pack my tote bag, a souvenir from the 60s that I still use for my wanderings.  It's a woven jacquard pattern in green and white.  On each side is the word Gemini (my sign) and a woven image of The Twins.  It has been repaired more times than I can count but it's still serviceable and very sentimental.  In goes my never know what you might find...some plastic bags and paper towels, Kleenex,  a Band-Aid and finally my camera.  And I'm off!
The woods begin only about 100' from my back door so it doesn't take long to reach the fairly new growth stand of maples.  The wind has definitely taken its toll this winter.  Branches and uprooted trees block my path and overhead the snags sing creaking songs in the wind.  "An accident waiting to happen" as the old saying goes.  I meander through the trees and finally arrive at the older part of the woods - huge maples and towering beech trees, some still vibrant and some beginning the slow process of the return to the earth.  A large fallen branch stands in the path, its broken face about 8' off the ground, giving the impression of some alien, insectile creature as it perches on its branchy legs.  I stare the creature down and continue on my way.
 The woods have no odor this time of year, only the dry dusty remnants of last year's leaves carpet the floor.   There is really no sound in the woods, either.  Only the wind blowing through the branches and the noise of my own clumsy passage.  There is life in the woods but for now it is hidden.
I see birds flitting ahead of me, taking advantage of the wind to flee from my presence.  Turkey tracks show where a small convention has met to dust themselves in the sand. 
I know the deer are here because I'm forced off my own paths to follow theirs.  The fresh footprints taunt me but I know I won't see them until dusk.  As I make my clumsy way over and under branches, my foot begins to roll on a hidden branch and I remember, too late, that I forgot to pack my phone.
How sad to have reached an age when I worry about falling in the woods.  How long before I was missed?   How long before Mike came looking?   Would I lie at the bottom of a muddy, wet swale as darkness fell and the woods got black and spooky?  Don't laugh... this may be a legitimate worry since I have a long history of falling while watching birds  day-dreaming or just tripping over my own feet.  But all is well now and it's time to follow the track home.  The stream runs high and silent below me, its banks bordered by tired patches of snow.  Tempting, but it will have to wait.
I pass through a clearing that I have stubbornly named "The Grove" and stop again to look for some sign of new life.  I love this spot and over the years have attempted many ambitious plans - A Japanese style garden - I even put in a small pond and lugged rocks and boulders into place.  Next I thought of a "Moss Garden"  collecting all kinds and colors to grow in my homemade hypertufa containers.  Lastly was a "Fairy Garden" -  a start was made, but the various gardens never completed;  for alas,  I have no patience and move on to other projects when the last one doesn't develop quickly enough to suit me.
Well, I'm almost home and still no sign of life.  Wait!  I hear them. High overhead are 4 flocks of geese returning to the North Country.  "Welcome back,"  I yell.  Yes!  spring is coming.
Satisfied that I've met my objective, I have only one more small bridge to cross and I'm back in my yard, pleasantly tired and relaxed; thankful for the land that is temporarily mine and all the creatures that dwell there.
Now...wouldn't you know it...outside my kitchen window are 3 Red-winged Blackbirds and a Robin.
C'est la vie.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A better look at my book

Hello again friends.  as promised, I shall now attempt to post the 1st chapter of my book, SCAT, CAT.

I hope it's easier to read this time.  I f you do give it a read, tell me what you think.  Good or bad, enquiring minds want to know.


Patricia A. Garbutt

Chapter One: Coming and Going

A small black and white cat with a very long tail and very chubby cheeks lived in a big white house in a small city nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The cat was not quite a kitten and not quite a cat, but at that awkward, gangly in-between age. The small cat didn’t have a name. The Big Ones in the house just called him “The Cat.”
Cat was mostly content with his lot because he was warm and dry and had enough food to fill his small cat tummy. The big white house had plenty of corners and closets to explore and tall staircases to run up and down. When he was bored, he could play games for hours by chasing his shadow or bouncing a scrap of paper around a room. Of course, he also had to work on his catnaps, and usually he needed at least four or five a day. Sometimes the Big Ones even rubbed his cheeks and patted his head, which made him happy. At other times, when he wanted the Big Ones to play, he would rub his small cat body around their legs and try to talk to them. All that came out was a tiny little “mew?” He guessed the Big Ones didn’t understand, because they always shoved him away with their big hard feet and said, “Scat, Cat!”
Cat would have liked to sit on the big soft places that the Big Ones used, but if he tried to join them, they would just put him back on the floor with the familiar, “Scat, Cat or some other words that Cat didn't understand, but that he was sure would not be appropriate in polite company.
Things hadn't always been like this for Cat. When he first arrived in the big white house he had been a small fuzzy kitten and the Big Ones would hold and cuddle him and play with bits of string and crinkly paper. As he began to grow things began to change. Perhaps it was something he had done. Was it the time he climbed all the way to the top of the silky window coverings? Maybe it was because he liked to unroll all the paper in the room with the falling water. He hadn't broken any of the Big Ones' belongings in a long, long time. Well...except for that shiny thing that just hopped right off the shelf right where landed in pursuit of a particularly enticing bit of dust.. Was it his fault that the floor was so hard?
Yes. He had learned some valuable lessons since then and he was sure his behavior would make his Mother proud. When Cat thought of his Mother he would often lie down in a box in the corner and feel very sad and lonesome, remembering his own family. He missed his Mother and Brothers and Sisters, but didn’t know where they were. One day they were all together, snuggly and warm, purring happily, and the next day he was alone with just the Big Ones for company.
Cat tried not to be sad and filled some of the lonely hours by amusing himself with other small things around the house that needed to be taught a lesson in manners. He stalked the wily dust bunnies under the beds. He skirmished with the savage cobwebs that lurked behind the couch, although he never did find the cobs. He was especially on the watch for flies or spiders or other creepy crawlers that dared to enter his house. Some of them were even quite tasty.
Sometimes when he was in a wistful sort of mood he would think about why he didn't seem to have a proper name and why he was always called “ScatCat.” Names were very important to his people and he hoped that one day someone would accord him that honor. After all, everyone needed a name. The Big Ones had names. Cat knew that the large hairy one was called “Hey You” and the smaller softer one was called “Old Lady.” The names didn’t mean much to ScatCat, but a lot of the Big Ones’ actions were impossible to understand. They stared at a strange noisy box with mysterious images moving across it. They seemed to be able to do this for hours at a time and never want to run or play.
Their eating habits were very odd, too. They took perfectly good meat and placed it over a hot, red, flickering light until it was dark and hard. ScatCat couldn’t understand why they would ruin good food this way, and then smack their lips like it was the most delicious squeaky morsel they had ever eaten. But he had to admit that sometimes the aromas coming from their bowls made his mouth water.
They never seemed satisfied with their fur either, because they kept changing it: dark to bright, soft to hard, fluffy to slippery, heavy to light… there seemed to be no end to what they would do. Sometimes they took their fur off completely, which really made him shiver. Then they would step into a strange small room and make water fall all over themselves. At times, they would even lie down in the water! Even though it made his skin crawl just to think about it, ScatCat was strangely drawn to the room with the falling water. Whenever Hey You or Old Lady went into this mysterious place, he simply had to follow. One day as he was watching this strange ritual he came to a stunning conclusion. They weren't changing their fur...they had no fur at all! Oh, the poor things! That's why they had so many different coverings. They did have a bit of fur on the top but it certainly didn't amount to much in ScatCat's opinion, even if Old Lady spent an excessive amount of time fiddling with it. Yes. They certainly were unusual animals but ScatCat felt he was much wiser now about their peculiar habits.
One day things began to change in the big white house. Things were moving out and large boxes were moving in. Then even the boxes began moving out. ScatCat watched all this activity with a sense of foreboding. Change was usually not a good thing for kittens or cats and he felt certain that this “change” would be no different.
Finally, there came a day when all the Big Ones’ belongings were gone and the big white house was empty. The only things left were ScatCat and one small box.
Suddenly one of the Big Ones scooped him up and put him in the small box. He felt himself being jiggled and bumped as he was placed in a noisy, rumbly, dark space that started to move. ScatCat was unsure where he was going or why. Soon the swaying rumble in the darkness made him drowsy and he drifted off to sleep.
He woke up to the voices of the Big Ones and found himself again being jiggled and bumped along. “Maybe we are back at our house,” thought ScatCat. “Soon things will be back to normal.” He felt his little box being set down on solid ground and waited for someone to set him free. He heard some banging and then the noisy rumbly thing began its rumbly noise. The noise grew fainter and fainter and then there was only quiet, then after a bit there came the sound of the chirping of crickets. ScatCat knew it was the dark time and wondered what he should do.
Maybe the Big Ones will be back soon and I should just wait here in my box. That seems the best choice for now. That's exactly what I'll do.” So he made a few circles in his box … one, two, three , making himself as comfortable as possible and after much tossing and turning was finally able to fall asleep.


I just realized that when I posted the 1st chapter of one of my Cat book that the font size was so small that it was almost impossible to read.  Mea culpa.  AND!  Because I have so many versions of my stories saved, I made another error....not the latest version.
Long story short, I will post the proper version in the proper size (I hope)  later today.
I hope you take a little time to read it and let me know what you think.
Somehow no comment at all is worse than a critical one. 
Yes...I can take it.