Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Knitting and Healing

In the midst of all that has happened with me and my family this month, I do have some knitting to share.

I had packed some knitting to take with me to Arizona, and I carried that bag around with me everywhere I went like a security blanket. I didn't knit a stitch, though I knew my knitting was there, quietly waiting like an old friend if I needed to pick it up. Just the fact that it was there was enough.

A beautiful-spirited border patrol agent who I'm convinced is an angel brought a skein of yarn to me one day when she came to pick my sisters and me up to take us to my brother's house. Right now that precious skein of yarn is sitting on my bookshelf, right where I can see it whenever I sit down to knit. Little things like that really do make a difference to a grieving heart.

Last month Knitpicks put out a feeler in my area for test knitters through the local SnB site, and I was intrigued. I answered the call, and after checking my references, I was offered a project to do. A paid project. With yarn provided. When I returned home from Arizona, a package was waiting for me from KnitPicks containing the yarn and the pattern for my project. It was just what I needed to ease me back into knitting again. Just when I needed it.

Since this project is for an early 2007 catalog, I can't show you entire pictures of the finished product, but I did get permission to share some detail photos with you as a teaser:

Since the project is (ahem) lace (ahem) socks, it also qualifies for my November Sock-a-Month requirement and my Lacevember star. Sweet.

Sometimes the universe aligns just so, and you can be happy in that moment. I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My View of Sock Wars 2006

Sock Wars is now officially over, as of November 24, won by the deserving Heraldis. It was supposed to be a frenzied knit-off by whoever was left alive and Yarnmonkey. But in the days approaching the end of the war, 80+ warriors were still alive. Yarnmonkey was contacted for a proposed extension of the end date, but she decided that everyone should send their socks to her, and the first to reach her would be declared the winner, and all of the socks would be donated to charity. That's a nice thought, but after staying alive for over two months and knitting multiple pairs of socks, hard-working warriors wanted socks of their own. So Yarnmonkey changed the rules (ahem) and decided that the first person to send her a postcard in the mail would be the winner. She's in Ireland. At least people wouldn't be spending a fortune on sending socks. Heraldis won by sending a bouquet of flowers by Interpost. An inspired idea.

I believe there are still 80+ warriors out there waiting for their socks, desperately trying to reassemble to arrange to make that happen.

What follows is my review of the Sock Wars, written the day before I heard of my brother's accident:

It's official. I have met my untimely demise in the Sock Wars, taken out by these objects of beauty:As you can see, the socks were far too big and slipped down to my heels whenever I even slightly moved my foot. No amount of blocking would have made them fit. I even offered them to my mom, whose wears shoes 2 1/2 sizes bigger than mine, and she also had the same problem. So my socks of doom quickly became these piles:The chart that the Sock Wars hostess, Yarnmonkey, provided gave measurements far too big to fit the sizes given. Chrissy had the same problem with the socks of doom that she received. I had to modify and shorten the measurements for each target that I took out.

I am now going to show you the classified documents that I wasn't able to share with you during the time of my covert missions. Surely you understood my need for secrecy. Even now, in the wrong hands, these papers could still be dangerous.

The Dossier (created by me, since most participants never received one):
Top Secret
Sock Wars Dossier

Your target: Katrina, AKA Force of Nature

Target complains that her given name was a beautiful moniker until some genius decided to use it to name the most destructive hurricane to hit the U.S. She claims that the next person to say “Oh, you mean like the hurricane?” when she tells them her name will be dealt with in a most un-knitterly-like manner. Because of this, she has become a loose cannon and must be taken out.

Do not let her small demeanor fool you. She is a serious warrior. Her destructive knitting powers are very strong, witnessed by at least two fallen Sock Wars comrades beneath her. (RIP Mamie and Hat Lady).
Update: The agency has since learned of Moa's destruction at the hands of Force of Nature. You must shoot to kill.

Warning: Target is not above using chocolate to get her way if given the chance. DO NOT GIVE HER THAT CHANCE.

You must use the weapon that accompanies this dossier to destroy this target. It is the only weapon found to actually pierce her armor. The seductive draw of the merino wool is too difficult for even a seasoned Secret Agent like Force of Nature to resist. Her specifications are: US5.

When your mission has been completed, send arsenal to:
Katrina Cunningham
Portland, Oregon XXXXX

Good luck, Warrior. Be safe.

This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.

My obit, posted on the Sock Wars Forum:
Top Secret—For Your Eyes Only

This communication is provided to inform the agency of rogue agent Force of Nature’s demise. She was taken out by the able hands of Abby.

Before she was eliminated, she snuffed out agents Mamie, Hat Lady, and Moa.

A moment of silence for these worthy opponents, if you please.
I created my own dossier because my eventual assassin never received one either. She had emailed me saying she was next in line to take me out and asking for my mailing address. She said she was going to use some yarn she already had to start knitting a pair of socks for me.

Well, my secret agent radar couldn't help but be suspicious. After all, I had never heard from my original assassin, so it was unknown whether she had started to knit a pair of socks for me, and if so, where they were in the chain. But being a rogue agent myself, having had to solicit the mailing address from my own original target, I sympathized with the position of the person emailing me.

I started to fire off an email with my mailing address to her when my radar went haywire again. Two things went through my mind: #1 is it gonna be yucky yarn, since it's just what she's got lying around? and #2 who's to say that she hasn't already started knitting my socks?

Now, I'm not accusing anybody here. But war can do funny things to people's minds. I was just trying to be a smart agent, like the manual outlined in my secret agent training. (For the record, my assassin is a minister--or was that another red herring??)

Since these were unusual circumstances in unusal times, I offered a compromise: would she allow me to mail her a dossier that contained my mailing address along with yarn of my choosing (not yucky being a major factor)? I would even knit a few rows of ribbing on the first sock to get her started, so she could have the experience of receiving an actual dossier and socks in progress. (Yes, I would be eventually contributing to my own destruction, but at least it would be nice yarn.)

Really, I had her against the wall and she was a good sport about it. I wouldn't have refused to give her my mailing address, though I'd heard of that happening in the course of the Sock Wars. I just don't play that way. I guess if I wanted to be stinky I'd have told her to take her chances by emailing Yarnmonkey for it and hoping for a timely response. But she agreed to the compromise and I sent along package (with chocolate for her trouble), by Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, no less.

And now I've received my Socks of Doom in return.

Here are my official observations on my participation in the Sock Wars. Note that these opinions are mine alone, and offered as such.

Let me see if I can summarize quickly the guidelines of the Sock Wars. Each participant would receive a dossier with their target's foot measurements and mailing address. They were then to knit a pair of socks as fast as they could and mail them to their target. When their target received the finished pair of socks, they were to post their death on the forum and send the socks they had been working on to their assassin to finish. If they had already sent their socks to their victim, whoever had socks in progress to finish should send them up the chain to whoever was still alive to finish. Confused yet?

I want to say that I had a blast doing the Sock Wars, and would participate again in a heartbeat. When signing up, I figured that there would be mass confusion, and that it would all eventually self-destruct. I was not far off in that assumption.

First, on the day that Sock Wars was to begin, the hostess, Yarnmonkey, lived in an area that was hit by hurricane Gordon. Imagine the irony of that: I was signed up as Force of Nature due to the unfortunate naming of hurricane Katrina, and a hurricane delays the game.

Due to the hurricane, very few participants actually received dossiers. The rest of us were left to dangle in the wind with no information. Yarnmonkey eventually posted a master list of participants and their shoe sizes and email addresses (!) on her blog, which we were supposed to wade through to find out who we were knitting for, and email our targets to ask them for their mailing address. Let me ask you this: how cooperative would you feel like being if it meant your imminent destruction? Did I mention that this list was in no particular alphabetical or chronological order, and that there were 772 participants?

Yarnmonkey removed the master list from her blog after several complaints from people unhappy with their email addresses being displayed on the web. I was one unfortunate recipient of email spam due to this listing, as I'm sure other participants were.

So now that the master list was removed, it was back to square one for people who didn't think to save the list. That is where some computer-savvy souls took control and created a spreadsheet of assassins and victims. Without this, everything would have fallen apart.

Yarnmonkey was MIA again after removing the master list. We all wished her well and wondered about her safety because of the hurricane. She turned out to be fine. But I do have to say that I really expected much more involvement from her than I have seen so far. Yes, she had this wonderful idea and she organized the list of assassins. You can't predict forces of nature, and I'm not criticizing her delay due to unforeseen circumstances. But she disappeared from September 22nd to October 16th when she finally posted on her blog again with some vague mention of the Sock Wars. I will quote directly from her blog:

"Well now my warring lovelies. Having stared over the edge of the combined insanity of work and the sock wars hoo-hah, I took off for a couple of weeks there and am back in the world of the normal again. I have been reassured to hear from participants who are friends of mine that the carnage has been continuing well without me."

Umm. Oookay.

She also said that her previous email address was "kaput" and provided an alternate. As of this writing, there have been exactly two posts on her blog since then, and neither mentions the Sock Wars.

She may be doing some emailing behind the scenes, but I would have thought that she would be much more active on the forum, especially now when questions like "how long should you wait before declaring someone a deserter?" and "I received socks in progress, but was not sent enough yarn to finish them, what should I do?" need answering. Those left alive have become rogue agents, stumbling along to find their own answers.

If I sound too critical, let me clarify: I love the idea of the Sock Wars. I appreciate Yarnmonkey's idea. I can only imagine how difficult and time-consuming it would be to organize so many participants. Maybe Yarnmonkey didn't expect as many people to sign up as did. This being the first go-round there were bound to be kinks. But I really thought she was going to be much more involved in the whole process than she has turned out to be. I think that if you're going to put together something this large, some attentive management is definitely in order.

I've heard this said before about the Sock Wars, and it bears repeating: this was one of the few online swaps that you were actually rewarded if the person assigned to you decided to drop out or disappear. It only prolonged your life in this game. And every participant receives a pair of socks. How cool is that? (Provided that the socks fit, of course).

Again, if there is ever a Sock Wars 2, I'd be the first to sign up.

To sum up:

What I loved about Sock Wars:
*the competitive aspect
*the covert nature of the competition
*meeting some really nice people
*the sock pattern itself
*driving my friends and family crazy by constantly talking about the Sock Wars

What could be improved:
*more attention and involvement from the organizer to resolve inevitable issues.

And those opinions, my friends, is why I became dangerous to the agency and had to be destroyed. By brilliant, but alas, too big pink socks.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sometimes Things Have To Get Worse Before They Get Better

Behold the shiner after a few days:

I'm very fair-skinned, so it was a given that I'd turn purple (and probably green). I have gone out in public, and nobody has said much of anything. They've given the poor Count a few dirty looks, though.

It still hurts, though it's not quite as tender now, and the swelling has gone down. Sometimes I won't think about it for a little while, and then be reminded again when I look in the mirror or something touches it too closely.

I think the same can be said about my heart. Though my eye will heal a lot quicker.

Yesterday would have been my brother's 36th birthday. We decided as a family to keep it as a day of celebration and remembrance, not a day to dread. So I raised my fork with MY favorite kind of cake (lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. David's favorite was German chocolate) and had a cup of tea in his honor. He would have done the same for me.

For David:

I thought of you with love today
But that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday
And days before that too.
I think of you in silence
I often speak your name.
Now all I have are memories
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake
With which I'll never part
God has you in His keeping
I have you in my Heart.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Now That's Funny

Introducing Shiner Watch 2006:Please excuse the scary no-makeup face. Hey, you're lucky I combed my hair, even though you don't see much of it in the pictures anyway. If I'd have known that, I might not have bothered.

The pictures are kind of blurry (what do you expect from a self-portrait?), but there is swelling and the unmistakable beginnings of a black eye, courtesy of my youngest, Sproutie. He took a running leap into my arms, and his bite (what our family calls his pacifier) caught me squarely under the eye. The way I bruise, this will be a full-blown shiner by morning.

Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, then what is this world coming to, I ask you?

Did I mention that I was a total dork? I mean, who takes pictures of their blooming black eye and puts it on their blog?? Oh, yeah. Me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Songs for David

Music has a way of pulling out all the feelings in your heart and allowing you to grieve and remember. I'd like to share two songs with you that I've been listening to that will always remind me of my brother David.

This song is Stay by Little Big Town. It was played after my brother's memorial service while they showed pictures of him growing up. I had never heard it before, but it perfectly mirrors my feelings.

MP3 File

This song is Tonight I Wanna Cry by Keith Urban.

MP3 File

Thank you again to everyone who has sent words of comfort in emails or a comment on my blog. They mean more to me than I could ever say...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Reflections on David

Please allow me to share some things that touched me that were read at my brother's memorial service.

From his eulogy, read by my sister's husband Dan:

Today I find myself standing before family, friends, and loved ones, honored to have the opportunity to present a eulogy to David Webb. My name is Dan and I'm David's brother-in-law by way of being married to one of his big sisters, Angie.

David Webb came into this world on November 24, 1970 in Coos Bay, Oregon by his parents Dave and Karen. He also came into this world instantly outnumbered by three older sisters who would end up having a significant impact on his development as a child, which we'll talk about in a moment. But make no mistake, his parents and three sisters...he loved dearly and they love him dearly too.

David was an educated man who had a passion for reading and studying different languages. As you have heard, his Spanish was impeccable, earning him the reputation at work for being able to handle those situations that played to his strengths. David attended high school in Medford, Oregon; he studied Cultural Studies and Criminal Justice after high school, and it was during this time that he met and married his angel Celia. If you know Celia, you know David was at the "top of his game" when he convinced her to be with him, carrying on a fine tradition we men have in this family of marrying way out of our league. David and Celia carried on the second great tradition this family has and that's building a family - quickly! Son Tysaac was born soon after in 1999 and of course, son Sethric in 2003. But I know that doesn't surprise because you all know...he just got things done!

David loved spending time with his boys and playing video games with them. When I first met David he was 12 years old, and you guessed it, playing a video game (I think it was Pong or something like that). His sister introduced me, and of course I did not warrant an actual face to face acknowledgement, but I did get a raised controller and a quick "hey"....well, a couple of days ago we were gathered at the house, Tysaac was entertaining himself with a video game in the living room. A presentation was being made and the speaker was right in front of Tysaac...he's trying to peer around as he's playing. The speaker gets done and I lean over to Tysaac and ask him, "Hey buddy, are you winning?" He turns to me and says, as serious as he can be: "Not if everyone keeps getting in my way" that's David's son!

I want to spend just a few quick minutes telling you a few stories from his family in hopes of possibly providing some insight to David's early development as a child, maybe explaining some of those traits that became the adult we all knew.

My first story I will title "The Little Red Wagon".
Apparently the four kids had this little red wagon and they would take this thing to the top of these hills by their house. Now the cool job of course was steering it and that would go to the ringleader and eldest, Angie. Next Laura would pile in behind most likely in hopes that the driver would get tossed and she would suddenly get the cool job of steering, Katrina behind that and then of course, poor David would somehow shoehorn himself into this mess with his little legs hanging out. Well, you know what his job was don't you?...yeah, the brakes! Poor guy kept wearing the heels out on his boots getting shorter by the ride!
Now you know why David didn't want to be last place in anything!

My second story I will title "Who, What, When and Why".
Now when you live in Coos Bay, there isn't a lot to do and you have to make a few things up as you go along. Again, the ringleader (Angie) would gather everybody up, sit each of them in a circle and each kid had an person had to think of a who, one a what, and so on. Then each kid took a turn telling the others what their who was or their what or their as you went around this circle, you got something like..."Uncle Buster...picks his the go to sleep." Apparently this was fairly humorous, and I'm sure it was...but more importantly, I think we now have a better understanding into David's approach to humor.

My last story I will title "School House".
As the oldest, Angie would prepare lesson plans for each of them, acting as the teacher of this pretend school house and these kids would have lesson after lesson after lesson to do. As a result, each one of them were solid readers before they hit first grade and I'm sure, drove David's passion for learning. Now, all this pretend schooling was fine, but David wanted to actually GO to school. But there was a problem...he wasn't old enough. So each day he had to painfully watch them travel off to school while he was left with lame lessons from his big sister. So for David, there was only one thing he could think of to do...and that's get his toy gun, strap it to his side, dress in his army gear and follow them to the bus stop hiding behind a mound of dirt...and guard his best friends until they were safely out of sight.

Now you know why David loved protecting America...

I will finish with these final thoughts...
It's important for you to know that David was there for his family during the tough times...he could talk with his mom without talking. David would say "remember me to my kids, and I ask you as Grandma to let them see your blue eyes as often as you can."
In speaking with his family I know he would be so happy and proud with the way the Border Patrol has treated his family.

And it's also important that you know...that David is proud...that you are proud of him.

Make no mistake...David left us a hero...

Death is a thief...and not often a welcome one...

But I do know that this feeling of grief is borne out of a tremendous love that we all have for David and that this sadness we feel is a result of the fact that we will miss him terribly.

I think it's also important for us to remember the foundation our Heavenly Father gives us. As the Apostle Paul tells us: "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."

I think we are left with a choice of where we go from here...and I am certain that David would want us to choose healing and love for one his honor.

Lastly, from David's brother-in-law Khoi who could not be here: Anh tung Em...which is Vietnamese for..."I love you, little brother."

May God bless this family.

From a wonderful piece written in David's perspective by his mother-in-law who adored him, translated from Spanish to English:

Thank You

Never like right now I thank God for the privilege of life, value the people that are around me, recognize the infinite pleasure of friendship and am satisfied with the mission that my Heavenly Father sent me for to this earth.

I loved and was loved by my parents, sisters, wife, sons, stepparents, neighbors and friends.

I learned from life that the wealth of a human being is in sharing with everyone, and that the true measure of compatibility is not in the amount of time we spend together, but in the quality of that time and the relationship for one another. I now know that broken hearts last for as long as we wish and cut so deeply, depending on how long you let them continue to hurt you, so for this, the challenge in surviving a broken heart is to know how we will learn from that pain.

Thank you, my friends...I will be with you as long as you remember me.

Thank you, family. I went ahead of you to explore the way and wait at the end until our joyous, everlasting get-together.

Thank you, God: praise You for receiving me into Your home. I ask you once more for all my loved ones, please send them the strength and grace not to question Your actions, but to accept Your will.

I do not wish to cause you pain. Remember me as a person with virtues and defects, but especially as the man that, God providing, tried to be a son, husband and father, and that in my way I found friendly and giving people that I trust will be the best support for those I leave behind.

I am at peace. I am with God.

David Norman Webb
November 1970-November 2006

And a poem that has helped bring comfort to me over these sad days:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
So do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.

And on a personal note:

I've learned over these last few weeks that sharing my grief with other people who are also hurting helps to heal us both.

That my brother is around and present in every funny story we tell about him.

That cards and emails, no matter how small, really do bring immeasurable comfort to my saddened heart.

Thank you, my friends, for letting me share my brother with you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I am home, safe and sound.

Now that I've returned, I'm trying to find the balance between getting back to some sort of semblance of a normal life, and allowing myself to grieve. The sadness comes over me in waves.

I think that I'll be ready to do something, yet when I'm there I realize that I need to return to my cocoon.

My kids keep me quite occupied and provide a much-needed diversion. I'll be fine again, then memories come flooding back. It's like two steps forward, one step back.

But my brother knew I was tough. That I am strong.

But I never wanted to be this strong. To be able to survive this. Yet it's what I must do; for my mom, my sisters, my children, my brother's wife and children. For me.

My Brother

If you've seen a picture of my brother David, chances are you've seen the tough-guy pose that was taken for his border patrol ID. As his older sister, I think that's fitting, because he needed to look like he meant business. But let me share the softer side of my baby brother with you.

This man loved kitties over dogs, and preferred tea to coffee. This man had the best sense of humor, and we were always laughing, whether he was laughing AT me or WITH me. He loved to play games and do puzzles, just like me.

The man who walked me down the aisle and gave me away at my wedding. I remember you whispered to me words of love and encouragement.

We always thought there would be more time to catch up on all of our grown-up stuff. That we would grow old and always be there.

I am so proud of the man you became. How you took care of your family. You died doing a job that you loved, and left behind many, many people whose lives will never be the same from having known you.

I love you, David. And I will miss you every day of my life.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Here is a link to a news story about my brother's memorial service.
and video:

Thank you to all who have left comments on my blog and sweet personal emails. I have shared them with my family and they bring more comfort than you could possibly know.

A very special thank you goes to the sweet wonderful friends who sent the most beautiful red, white, and blue flower bouquet to the church. As I was sitting in the pew, I looked up over the many flowers at the service and the patriotic colors caught my eye. They comforted me so much. When I later asked who they were from, I was told they were sent by Katrina's knitting friends. I am overwhelmed by your thoughtful gesture. Thank you for honoring my brother in that way.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Please visit this website to learn more about my brother, David Webb.

His memorial service will be held on Thursday, November 9th with full honor guard.

Please keep my sister-in-law Celia and my nephews Tysaac (7) and Sethric (3) in your prayers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My little brother died tonight in a car accident.