The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

P(A+B) = P(A) X P(B)

Warning: This page contains graphic mathematic content, as well as some amount of shameless showing off. Reader discretion is advised.

Sven has 2 pairs of blue jeans and 3 pairs of khaki pants. He also has 5 blue shirts, 4 red shirts, and 3 tan shirts. Resisting the urge to point out the obvious truth that Sven needs a new wardrobe advisor (12 shirts in 3 colors??? Please.), and assuming that he picks out his clothes at random, what is the probability that he will wear blue jeans and a red shirt?

(I added the part in about the wardrobe advisor….you probably didn’t guess that….)

This was the bonus question on my Statistics test yesterday. And the above formula, which I cleverly pulled out of the carefully organized and well educated storage in my mind (out of my ass, desperately, after trying about 12 other things) was the correct way to solve it. I know, because when I turned it in I told Mr. Guillford that I was pretty confident about the test but unsure about Sven’s wardrobe. So he kindly looked at that problem and said “Well, you got it right.” (Insert happy dance of choice here.) Okay, so I know that I don’t have the rest of the test back yet and chances are that this problem is actually painfully easy and I look like a dork for being excited to know it—but I’ve been dreading this class and am utterly amazed to find myself (kind of) enjoying it. The formula, in case you care at all, translates out to “the probability of event A and event B happening at the same time is equal to the probability of A times the probability of B”. I do think, however, that there are some notable quirks in probability logic. For instance:

The probability that I will be ready to divide the stitches for Samus (event A) times the probability that I will actually have the large stitch holder with me (event B) apparently equals zero. Hence the fact that I ended up cramming 144 stitches on a holder intended for something like a sleeve last night at Knit for Life. I’ve changed it out now and here’s the progress to date:

I still love this beyond reason, and I still want to wear it right this minute. Mr. K is on board with that. Yesterday I asked him what would go with the pants in my hand (where’s Sven when I need him?) and he said “Oh, that cardigan you’re making would go perfectly!” Cool. I’ll just whip downstairs and finish that before school starts, shall I?) But I digress. Back to those fascinating probabilities (work with me, here—I HAVE to think they’re fascinating):

The probability that I will lose a darning needle (event A) times the probability that it will be my last one (event B) times the probability that it will be raining and I won’t want to run to the store for another package (event C) always equals 100%. Always. Definitely a statistical anomaly.

The probability that I will be running late for school (event A) times the probability that every pair of reasonable pants I own will be in the wash (event B) is at least 95%. Multiply that times the probability that my windshield will need scraping and you’ve got yourself an even 100%.

Or how about this: The probability that the Seahawks will do something uniquely brilliant (event A, becoming less likely as the season wears on) times the probability that I will be looking down at my knitting (event B). Again, 100%.

The probability that I will be eating something staggeringly unhealthy (event A, and let’s not discuss the fact that this may be a 100% probability all on its own, shall we?) times the probability that someone will walk by who I respect and would not wish to have see me eating pretzels stuffed with some sort of processed cheese product (event B, and admittedly disgusting and shameful). Absolutely 100%.

The probability of the cat running off with the yarn (event A) times the probability that the yarn will be attached to something important (event B) times the probability that I won’t have a good hold on the other end (event C) times the probability that the item is very complicated (event D) times the probability that the item was nearly complete (event E). Sadly, tragically, 100%. Last time it happened, it was lace. The probability that the cat survived was staggeringly low, but she beat the odds. I think throwing in “hugely cute” probably tipped them a bit in her favor.

All of our news today is leading with the story of a “cold snap in Western Washington”. Newsflash, guys: I don’t think of it as news, exactly, when I can go out side and figure it out by the frozen nose hairs. But I’m digressing again. It is, in fact, a very, very cold day (the kind my mother used to call “colder than a well digger’s ass”, which makes me pity well digger’s wives everywhere) so I thought I’d show you our white, crispy yard.

Think I'll go sit by the fire with a warm cat and some knitting (like the probability of that isn’t through the roof whether it’s alarmingly cold or not).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Punkin' Guts, etc.

It is this sort of a kicked back day here at Chez Knitingale:

(Can you get more relaxed than this cat?) It’s been drizzly and gray, so even Ed has gotten into the swing of indoor living, having thoroughly exhausted all sock-loving and slobbering possibilities:

I, however, amaze myself by being a tad more energetic. Truth is, I love the end of daylight savings time, that wonderful “fall back” weekend when I get a whole extra hour—which never sounds like much but always feels like the day just stretches on and on. (See what you’re missing down there in Arizona, Suburbaknit? For those not in the know, Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe Daylight Savings Time. Which I think is kind of funny….don’t mess with Arizona or Hawaii, man. If they don’t like your dumb idea, they just won’t do it. So there.)

Anyhow, I woke up filled with zest and zeal and….okay, no. I have never in my life awakened with such items and in fact, outside of lemons and soap, I’m not entirely sure what zest might be. I suspect it may be related to those aggressively cheery women in some customer service jobs who sound pleasant and look crazed and you always have the vague urge to make certain they don’t have access to any sharp objects. You know the ones. So what did I wake up with……well, a cat on my legs, for certain. And, once I’d yawned and found my fleece pants on the floor and brushed the majority of the cat hair off of them, I discovered within me the desire to rearrange (read “play with yarn”, because that’s really quite a lot closer to the truth). I pulled some books and pots and other goodies off the bakers rack in the living room (the TV and fire room, really—this house has two living rooms which still quite puzzles me….is it in case I don’t like a couple of my guests? That way I can give them their own living room and only talk to them on the way through to the bathroom?), dusted it off (dust bunnies? Not so much. They were eaten by the dust gorillas.), and then loaded it up with yarn and needles and patterns. What do you think?

If I didn’t know that most of you are knitters, I might actually try to get away with saying that this was all my yarn. And, I don’t doubt, most non-knitters would not only fall for it but might actually think that this seems like an awful lot of yarn. But we know better, don’t we? You’re not falling for it, and I have too much respect for your intelligence to even attempt it (not to mention the friends who read this and would hesitate not a millisecond in giving me away, should I drag out such a contemptible lie). So no, it’s but a fraction. But it does open up some space in my upstairs stash closet (which was becoming a bit….snug, shall we say?) while making a lovely decoration downstairs (you can’t beat decorating with yarn). So far, Mr. K hasn’t really made the connection between the slow movement of yarn downstairs and the inevitable takeover of the house with it….so let’s not tell him, what do you say?

Then, I proceeded to perform a little surgery. Oh, don’t look so worried—I’m a medical professional. Here, the patient before the procedure:

And here, after an hour or so in the operating room with me, considerable profanity, and a couple of curious cats:

It looked quite a bit better in my head than it does in reality, but my heart was in the right place. Yeah, my knife wasn't....I won't even tell you how many toothpicks are carefully holding things in that really shouldn't have been cut out. I think you probably shouldn't pick me for your appendectomy. Or your pumpkinectomy, for that matter.

The worst part, though, besides the patient’s less than stellar outcome, was the aftermath. Thinking myself very clever, I had laid the patient down on layers and layers of newspaper. Proving myself to be very much NOT clever, I then gathered up all the guts and goop in the newspaper and picked it up to carry outside. Without considering the sogging potential to newspaper of approximately 2 pounds of pumpkin guts (or “punkin guts” as my mom used to say). You can see where this is going, can’t you? So could I but, sadly, not in time to prevent it. It was like a Sam Peckinpaw movie, all slow motion and angst as I suddenly felt the paper give way and watched the innards plummet stickily to the hardwood, splashing my socks, my jeans, my everything. Pumpkin seeds scattered all the way down the hall. The cats thought this was great fun. I was less enchanted. Did you know that it takes about n+1 (where n = the total # of clean dishtowels in the house) to clean 2 pounds of punkin guts off the hardwood? And that the average 41-year-old mind will forget the presence of said guts on the soles of her socks until she has walked over the newly cleaned space?

Yeah….I didn’t either……

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Great Escape

Okay, so to tell you about yesterday requires a little background information on yours truly. Specifically, that I hate to shop for bras. I hate bras in general for the most part, but I really hate to shop for them. This is likely a holdover from my teenage years when I suddenly and inexplicably developed a rack of mammoth proportions (38D, I kid you not—the boys didn’t look me in the eyes for my entire high school career). My mom would take me bra shopping and, naturally, I would want all the pretty, lacy bras with little bows and other rather nauseatingly cute details. But, given the nature of my attributes, my mother informed me in that “we aren’t going to discuss this” tone that women with larger chests could not wear delicate bras that didn’t lend support—unless I wanted my boobs to bang on my knees by the time I was 30. Which I did not. So we always ended up buying these perfectly hideous, prison-matron bras (if you are a prison matron please accept my humble apologies for insulting your femininity but there is no better term to describe these awful things) that had almost no stretch to them, monstrous cone-shaped cups, and wide straps with little cushions on them to keep them from digging into my shoulders. All they lacked was guide wires over my ears to keep the whole shebang up in the northern hemisphere of my body. I hated them.

Now, of course, I have lost weight and have a more manageable rack (at least no one calls me Jugs anymore…..not to my face, anyway) and I only purchase lovely, lacey bras and yet, I still hate bra shopping. In fact, while I will buy panties by the case just because there’s a sale at Victoria’s Secret, I will wear the same bra until it is little more than a few bra molecules attached to a rapidly disintegrating clasp (“What? It looks fine!”) rather than replace them. Denial, again. I really should just move to Egypt.

Earlier this year I spent some time with my parents in the south central part of the state and my mother, for reasons best known to herself, decided it was time to clean out her own bra drawer and give me all the ones she could no longer wear. She’s lost weight due to an illness, so she had many that were too big. However, she was larger to start with than I am now, so most of these bras did not fit but she was absolutely certain that they did so I just took them. It is a measure of the abovementioned bra-shopping resistance that I did not toss out these bras, but actually tucked them into my drawer with the theory that even a stretched-out, faded bra with so many elastic strings hanging off it that my breasts could bungee jump is still a bra and so puts me at least another week away from bra shopping. I know. It’s a bad thing. I’d go braless but, well….I’m not a D anymore but the girls remember. They may not bang on my knees, exactly, but they aren’t enjoying a view of the horizon, either. Let’s just say there’s entirely too much wild, free boobage to let it go uncontained, shall we?

So, with that knowledge, take yourself to yesterday. It’s Friday. I am getting myself ready for school and realize that my laundry delaying tactics have been wildly successful and I am now through all my bra molecules and left with my mother’s old bras—the desperation bras. No problem—a bra in the hand, right? I grab a likely looking candidate that isn’t too stretched out and that seems to more or less contain my breasts. I put it on, throw on a sweater and jeans, and head to school.

Friday is dissection day in my A&P class (eewww) and my partner is a pleasant and very young man (18? 19?) who is quite shy but sweet in a terribly young sort of way. We begin the task of disassembling a cow leg (really, I couldn’t make this stuff up) and all is going well…until I feel it: the unmistakable pop of bra clasp unfastening and the equally unmistakable exuberant bounce of freed breasts, joyfully exploring the world outside of their confines. It was a front hook bra. Great. The good news is that I was wearing a scrub jacket to protect my clothes (and now, apparently, the spectacle of my unfettered bosom) but the bad news was that I was also wearing gore-spattered rubber gloves and there was going to be no dignified way to restore order to things. The best I could do was to quietly peel off the gloves, and whisper to my lab partner that I needed to use the restroom, and make as bounceless an exit as possible. In the bathroom, I rounded up the escaped boobs, stuffed them unceremoniously back into their cage, rearranged my clothes, and returned to class. All is well, right? Wrong. Because 5 minutes later, the girls made another break for it. And so it went. I started to worry that if I didn’t come up with some explanation, my lab partner would draw one of two false conclusions: that I was overcome with disgust at the dissection project (and even in my embarrassed, bouncy state I couldn’t tolerate THAT) or that I was mean and lazy and trying to give him all the work. But I couldn’t tell him about my mutinous boobs… I finally ended up muttering something about a “wardrobe malfunction”. Great. Now both me and my breasts are in company with Janet Jackson. Isn’t that what every girl dreams of? Needless to say, the bra went out the door as soon as I got home. I would have cut it into little tiny pieces, too, if I could have found the good scissors.

In other, less bouncy news, here (finally) is the photo of Jo’s lovely yarn:

The photo doesn’t begin to do it justice, but it’s one of about 20 attempts. This stuff is so pretty but is apparently camera shy as well. Gracie tried to help:

…but even that didn’t do it. Surprisingly. Trust me, though. It’s breathtaking. Soft, fluffy, the faintest traces of wild violet. It’s whispering to me about a lovely soft shawl….I’m listening…..I’m listening.

I also snapped a rare pic of my sweet Gussiecat.

She almost never tolerates this kind of attention so I figured I’d post it, even though it’s so blurry it looks like she has three eyes. Hey, maybe she has Gracie’s……

Lastly, a photo of Ed. He was having a love affair with a sock, and declined to offer a good pose. But he’s still a stunningly handsome puss.

Friday, October 27, 2006


In the interest of giving you something interesting to look at besides my writer's bloat, I tried to download some photos I took a few days ago, but blogger is refusing to take them. I think blogger and the one muse may be related...but read on. You'll see what I mean.
First things first: I received the most heavenly yarn yesterday from Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns and I was so excited to put up a picture of it today but Mr. K needed the camera at work. And, seeing as how it IS his camera, I thought that letting him take it was really the most gracious thing to do. I'll put up a pic of it tomorrow, though, promise. It's just lovely--turquoise mohair with just the barest hint of violet in the long hairs. Love it, love it, love it. Thank you SO much, Jo!

Now, to those muses. Muses are funny things. In the same way that dropping a bowling ball on your foot is funny….when it’s your foot. I was thinking about this today because some of you have been kind enough to compliment my writing (you have no idea how much this means to me, but I’ll keep right on thanking you for it) and I’ve certainly had people ask me in the past how I do it. I usually say something flip like “Oh, it’s easy.” Which is a bald-faced lie of such magnitude that I could use it on my resume should I ever decide to go into politics. Truth is, it’s all down to the muses.

I have two muses, because I have done two different types of writing. For what I call “general writing”, that is--articles for publication, blogging, school papers, etc.—there is a lovely, almost friendly muse. She is very nearly kind, and is actually somewhat forgiving as her type goes. That is, I can sit down and write without much forethought and oftentimes she’ll actually forgive the arrogance and whisper a few ideas into my ear anyway. And, once she starts, she’ll usually stay at my shoulder until I’m done and the end product looks, at least to some extent, cohesive. She’s not above misleading me so that I come back later to what seemed to be a brilliant piece of writing but now seems to have magically transformed into a pile of crap….but she’s a muse. They’re a flighty breed, muses, and they can be expected to get bored and play games. The other one, though…..the other one.

See, I also have been known to write poetry. Once upon a time I dreamed of publishing a book of poetry. This, of course, when I was young and innocent and didn’t realize that getting a book of poetry published is something one should only try when similar forms of satisfaction—falling out of a tree, becoming shipwrecked, standing under a flock of seagulls with intestinal flu—have been exhausted. If the other muse is a gentle, occasionally mischievous soul who generally wants me to do well, the other one is a bloody-minded bitch (or, as my mother would say, a brass-plated, four-door bitch. I’ve no idea what that means, but it’s quite satisfying to say in these situations). To blog or write a paper or an article, I form some general ideas and sit at the computer and type and stop and erase and type and stop and erase and I do this for awhile until something passable is born. Practically painless. I call the muse; for the most part she comes and we do the dance and all is well. Not so the other one.

To write poetry it is necessary to sit down with a notebook and a pen (I don’t know why, but I’ve never been able to write poetry on a computer), and then to stare at the page until my eyes bleed. The muse, meanwhile, just does the muse equivalent of standing there with her fingers in her ears chanting “La, la, la—I can’t hear you!”. And, since she has the attention span of a three-year-old at Christmas, even if she does help she’ll leave halfway through and I’ll be stuck with this half-written poem that makes no sense to me and I have no idea where I was going. But here’s the real hell of it: when she does decide to help, it’s beautiful. When she’ll do the dance it’s like nothing on this earth. The thoughts and images pour through my mind and through the pen and onto the paper and I stare in amazement and wonder how in the world that came out of me. (I used to say the poems just used me to get written, and that’s how it felt.) That, of course, was the hook. Because I’d love what we made and I’d think we were going steady and the next day…..well, the next day she’d be long gone. Or she’d stare at me blankly as if to say “Oh, you didn’t think that was SERIOUS, did you? That’s so cute……” My poetry muse has huge commitment issues.

She’s a flirt, that muse. She’s almost like Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football. Because I’ll get fed up and ignore her and she’ll just hang at the edge of my consciousness and offer tantalizing little bits of music…..and then run away as soon as I get out the paper. I can almost imagine her saying “I can’t believe you fell for that AGAIN!” I love her and I hate her by turns. And at the same time. I haven’t tried to write poetry in quite some time because I know how she is. But I’ll probably have to try again soon because…..well, because I know how she is. Bitch.

So there’s the answer to how I write like I do—if it’s general writing, I ask nicely and I angst a tiny bit but mostly she comes. If it’s poetry, I whack my head against the wall until the urge goes away…then admit that it won’t and do battle until something is finally born. And both hate and love very minute of it.

I’ll leave you today with this offering from the Evil Muse of the West (not to be confused with the Good Muse of the North), written for Mr. K once upon a time while thinking about ordinary miracles:

Love Poem

Eggs chuckle softly on the stove
Spitting water to hiss and die
On the burner below;

Steam clouds the window
Where night presses
Her cool black cheek,

Leans longingly against the lovelit walls
Where we are

Making eggs
And other small

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Waxing Philosophical

“Vulnerable we are, like an infant.
We need each other’s care
Or we will

Those are the words of Catherine of Sienna, 1347 – 1380, and they are such a favorite of mine that I always kept them posted at my desk when I was working—just to remind me why I was there. And I believe them with my whole heart—we do need each other. I know I wrote before about “belonging to each other”, and I think that is both true and worth repeating. Truth is, I think that this is so simple, so basic, that I can’t quite comprehend why so many people don’t seem to understand it. The world today is a frequently scary place—like a dark and depthless woods—and it seems so obvious to me that we should be sticking together and holding hands.

This is entirely different from “tolerance,” that word that is bandied about by politicians and teachers and who knows who else and it’s supposed to be progressive and liberal and to me it sounds like a pitifully tiny effort. I “tolerate” the spiders on my back porch because they keep coming back and there isn’t much I can do about them. But people? Listen, I may not agree with or understand everyone I meet, but I value them. I know that the composition of this world, this life, is dependent upon different viewpoints and different thoughts and different dreams. I heard someone say recently that they were “tolerant of gays” and I was offended where I think I was supposed to be impressed. I have a beloved friend who is gay, and I don’t “tolerate” him. I think the world is a richer place because he and his partner are in it—they are smart, funny, endlessly kind. And yes, they are gay, and yes, I love that about them, too. Not “tolerate”. Love.

You may wonder what caused me to haul out this particular soapbox today (out of my seemingly endless closet of soapboxes); oddly, it started in my psychology class, where a classmate expressed her opinions about evolution by stating baldly that “it’s a bunch of baloney and everyone knows it.” I don’t think less of her for her opinion, whether or not I agree. In truth, I am profoundly grateful that she has found the beliefs that give her peace, and that she lives in a country where no one has the legal right to tell her not to. But the way she said it—that “I am right and all other opinions are foolish” attitude—struck me badly. Her words were what we as kids called “fightin’ words” in that they don’t inspire conversation, debate, exploration, sharing—they inspire defensiveness in the listener. They invite quarrel. They suggest that two differing ideas cannot coexist peacefully. And in a time where suffering and death of people who do not believe as they are “supposed to” is simply standard fare on the evening news, I’m not sure we can afford to be so smug in our beliefs, so certain of our lone rightness.

It’s like family, I think. Because no matter how screwed up, no matter how dysfunctional or weird or whatever, they’re still family, right? We go home and decide not to talk to Dad about politics and love him while we disagree. Or we have a different spiritual belief than Mom, but we let that go because it doesn’t hurt us to respect her beliefs and it doesn’t take away from ours and, well, we love her. Couldn’t we do that all the time instead of just at Thanksgiving dinner? My neighbor once sent LDS missionaries to my house. I have nothing whatsoever against the Mormon faith, but I do have my own deeply held spiritual beliefs. I could have chosen to be offended, to assume that she disrespected my beliefs, whatever. I could have. But I think that she did it because she cares about me and because she wants to share something that has so much meaning to her. From that perspective, it’s a gift, even if it isn’t one that fits all that well. So I thanked the people that came to my door, and I was gracious and I let it go. Our society could do with a little more letting go. And a lot less isolation, both in our persons and in our beliefs. It is only from a place of isolation that we are able to say without doubt that none are right but us, and to disregard the sensibilities of those folks who peacefully believe otherwise.

My classmate is young, and idealistic. I think life will help fill in the grays where she is currently nurturing the black and the white. But still, I can’t help cringing when I hear it. I can’t help wanting to tell her “Please, take my hand. The forest is beyond big; it is filled with all manner of shadow, and no end of twists and turns—but we can get through it together. To tell the truth, I don’t believe there is any other way that we will.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Odds and Ends

It really is an odds and ends kind of day…the sort where nothing really hangs together quite. You go out the door without your keys. You lose your water bottle and hunt frantically for it, only to find it hanging off your shoulder (I have a snazzy little carrier with a strap for mine—I can wear it just like a purse….and, apparently, lose it just like one as well). You put on the lovely brown wool sweater with a cotton turtle underneath, and only realize as you’re going out the door that you now resemble—quite uncannily—a cardboard box on legs. You do not, of course, have time to change. You try to straighten you hair and it curls, so you try to curl it and it straightens (more about that another time—suffice it to say that my hair has pushed the limits of my patience with its latest little “funny” trick). You can find exactly one of any pair of socks you might want to wear, you trip on your backpack on the way out the door, you spill canned cat food on your hand while feeding the fur people, only to realize that you are now doomed to smell like ocean whitefish for the next four hours because nothing short of steel wool and industrial acid is going to get that smell out.

You just know. It’s an odds and ends kind of day. It is no surprise whatsoever that my writing style is similarly conflicted.

For one such odd or end, I offer my mother’s insights. A couple of you commented on my mother’s lovely observation that “you can’t go out wearing that—it looks like it’s been in a dog’s butt all night!” You will scarcely believe it, but there are more. My mother has always had a collection of truly interesting expressions that I rarely or never heard elsewhere. For instance:

“You can’t wear that bra. It makes your boobs look like lunch bags.” (What, brown and wrinkled? Or with a smashed sandwich inside?)

“I can’t stand that actor—he looks as if he wears dirty underwear.” (And what exactly does that look like, Mom? No….no….don’t tell me.)

“Don’t you think she looks a bit bitchy around the mouth?” (I have no comment for that one…I mean, where are you gonna go, really?)

“How can you drink that crap? It tastes just like horse piss.” (I got absolutely no good daughter points for asking her how she knew that.)

Upon awakening me in the middle of the night to take some unidentified medicine which she had poured into a paper cup: “Hurry up and drink it—before it eats through the cup.”

And, when asked why she had awakened me to take it “To help you sleep.”

“That kid is such a brat—she makes the palm of my hand itch.” (as in, to slap her)

“I don’t know him from a load of goats.” (Must be a strange looking guy….)

My favorite, though, was Dutch word she used (both of her parents were born in Holland) that I unfortunately can’t begin to spell, but it was something she would threaten to hit me with, and she swore that the literal translation was “a sock full of sh*t with a hole in the toe.”

Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Another odd (or end): my psych teacher said recently that she raised a boy and girl and is utterly convinced that there is no inborn gender difference whatsoever—other than being different people, they are no different from one another. I can’t agree, and here’s a good example of why:

A dear friend of mine several years ago was getting ready for a party. Debbie preferred stockings to pantyhose, the upside of which was that they are two separate and individual entities and she could simply toss one if it got run rather than losing the whole pair. The downside, however, was that they are two separate and individual entities and she inevitably wound up with about 73 stockings and no idea which ones matched which other ones. That night she selected two likely looking candidates and finished getting dressed. But when she looked in the mirror, she had a niggling doubt about the match and thought that one might be a hair darker than the other. So she went out to the living room to ask her husband. She twirled for him, asked how she looked, and then asked if the stockings were the same color. He replied that they were. She told him to look again, as she was concerned that one was darker. He obliged and then told her again that they appeared to be the same color. Fair enough. She grabbed her coat and purse and they headed out. Once at their destination, they went up to the porch and rang the bell. As they waited, she suddenly became aware of him staring at her legs. She asked him why and got this (decidedly male) response:

“Well, under the porch light, I’m starting to think you may be right. The one with the seam up the back does look just a tad darker than the one without.”

See, another woman would have understood the unspoken portion of her original question about the color--specifically “because I want them to match.” I’m not buying this “we’re all the same” thing. Oh, and here’s another one: Mr. K does not think of chocolate as a food group. I don’t get this at all. Clearly, something is wired differently (notice I did not say “strangely”, although I have thought this about men at times.). Oh, and does anyone recognize this exchange?

Wife, wanting to put on make-up before leaving for work: “Honey, are you through in the bathroom?”

Husband: “Yes.”

Wife, approaching bathroom and finding the door closed with husband inside: “I thought you said you were through in the bathroom.”

Husband: “I am. I’m just shaving.”

Wife: “….”

It does no good at this point to go through the logic of “but, you’re shaving IN THE BATHROOM” or “But if you’re using the only mirror in the room, clearly you’re still using the bathroom” because….well, he’s male. It’s a different wiring job altogether.

If I fail psychology, you’ll know why.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Matters of Timing

One of the nice things about blogging, besides meeting so many cool people, I mean, is that you get to see things through the eyes of people who might be far away. When I posted the pics of our mountain drive, someone commented that they wished they had mountains where they lived. I love that drive, but I admit to sometimes forgetting how lucky I am, and to appreciate it as much as I should.

Which brings me to this point: If I post a picture of my mountains of laundry, would some mind commenting on it so that maybe I’ll appreciate it and feel lucky and all that? Okay, so lucky’s pushing it……..but see, I don’t even understand my continuing war with the laundry. It’s not like it was for my grandmother. My mom remembers seeing grandma’s knuckles red and raw and bleeding from the washboard. And she remembers hanging clothes out when it was so cold that they’d come in crunchy. For me, all I do is put it in one machine, take it out, put it in another machine. I even put separate baskets in the bedroom for darks and whites (yep, my laundry is apartheid) so I wouldn’t have to sort it. And, as evidence by the pink sock I made him, Mr. K is clearly better at sorting than I am so I don’t even have the excuse of an ignorant man screwing up the sorting system. And yet, we duel, the machines and I. Or, more specifically, one machine: the dryer (cue doom laden music here).

Like most dryers, mine has a setting whereby the machine will sense the dryness of the laundry and buzz loudly to tell me to come get it. It will keep drying it so it doesn’t get wrinkled, and it will buzz again a bit later. It will do this several times before it finally realizes I’m not coming and gives up, holding the laundry in a cold, lonely pile. I know—all your dryers do that. Nothing special about that. But see, my dryer has an extra feature: it is specially timed to only buzz when I am precisely in the middle of a row of knitting. I think it earns some sort of points for doing this, and I think it earns extra points if it can buzz when I’m in the middle of a row AND CSI is on (which, if you have cable, is nearly all the time.)

As an aside here, I’ll admit to being horribly addicted to the original CSI. There’s something about Gil Grissom’s lack of social skills combined with his astounding scientific skill that I love, and Katherine Willows is my hero. She’s not 20-something, but she’s sexy as hell and it gives old broads like me some sort of hope that I could, should I choose, actually look something like a babe. It’s not that I’m old and broken down and can’t be a babe…I just don’t choose to. Oh, denial, thy name is Knitingale. But as usual, I digress. To the dryer.

So the dryer buzzes once. I’m in the middle of a row, so I don’t get up and go get it. I tell myself that I’ll get it as soon as I get to the end of the row. I’m lying, of course, and both the dryer and I know it. I’ll get to the end of the row and, with the buzzing mercifully silenced, I won’t get up and go rescue the clothes. I’ll turn the needles around and keep right on going. There is, of course, another bit of timing at work here: the networks somehow know to place commercials squarely in the middles of rows as well, and always just long enough to be done at the moment you finish the row. It’s all about timing.

Around the third buzz, I start yelling back at the dryer. “I know, I hear you! I’m coming!” Yeah, it’s that bad. I’m talking to appliances. By buzz number four it’s “I said I hear you! I’m almost done with this row!” When the dryer gives up, which it always does with one short buzz (which I swear sounds like “Fine. Have wrinkly clothes. See if I care.”), I really ought to be thinking “Okay, I have to go get those now, or they’ll end up looking like they’ve been in a dog’s butt all night” (this last is a direct quote from the ever colorful Momma Knitingale. I heard it the whole time I was growing up, any time I tried to leave the house in something unironed. From personal experience, I would suggest not trying too hard to get a visual on this one.). Instead, I keep on knitting, secure in the knowledge that it will not disturb me again. Then, of course, I forget the laundry until I need something and then complain bitterly because it’s all wrinkled.

I recently accused Mr. K, my dear sweet hubby, of having an extra butt hanging around somewhere because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out any other way he could have worn 8 pairs of jeans in 5 days. As it happens, he had done a load of the jeans he wears in the shop (yes, I know how lucky I am and no, you can’t have him) and forgot them in the dryer (see, it’s not just me). I put a load of wet laundry in there with my usual attention to housework type detail (none whatsoever) and was unaware that I was putting it in with the load of jeans he’d already washed and dried. When I finally took it all out, I was folding two loads. So, he only has the one ass, which was a great relief.

I think part of the problem with laundry is that it never actually gets done. You can work all day and you’ll still look in the basket at the end of the day and find more laundry because more has already gone in. I tried to convince Mr. K to go around naked for a couple of days, just so I can have the brief satisfaction of having finished the job, but he seemed to think he’d get cold……

I finally got the Samus stitches all picked up and actually knit on it for awhile last night at Knit for Life:

I love this sweater already. I want to wear it today, right now. No pressure for it to turn out okay, or anything…..

And lastly, a picture of the lovely Gracie, seeing as how her writing so appealed to some of you:

Some of you probably already noticed that she is short an eye; this pic makes it pretty obvious. She lost it as a kitten before I got her due to an infection. I promise that she gets around perfectly well, is in no pain, and is, in fact, a hellion extraordinaire. As you’ll see the next time I have her guest blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


In which it becomes apparent that Ms. K has the self-control and dignity of a small child when it comes to giving and getting presents....

By now those of you who signed up for our way cool exchange are not only the coolest kids on the block but should be receiving e-mails I sent you regarding the person you’ll be gifting. You won’t have the same person who has you—so it’s all wonderfully mysterious (play along with me, here…I don’t get out much). Here’s what you need to do next:

I’ll put the questionnaire at the end of this post with my own answers in it. Copy it to your own blog and put your answers in it for the mystery person who has your name. I sent you all the blog address of the person you have, so you should be able to find all the info you need on them as soon as they get it on there (I initially wrote “as soon as they get it up”…but that would be a whole other kind of exchange and I really don’t think I want to run that one….). If you do not have a blog, send your info to me so I can get it where it’s going. If you have a person without a blog, I’ll have told you that in your e-mail and you will get the info directly from me via e-mail. There aren’t any hard and fast rules other than:

Have fun
Send the stuff out no later than the fourth Thursday in November.
Please post a photo of your loot on your blog once you get it, so we can all assuage our severe nosiness disorders.
We’re looking for a care package sort of thing here—comfort stuff. And we’re really NOT looking to add stress to your life. Do what you can and don’t sweat what you can’t. There is no expectation that you will knit anything for your pal, because that would actually add to your stress which is kind of opposite of the idea.
That should do it. I’m way excited about this—I love buying people presents!

The questions:

1. What is your favorite color? (Mine has always been red but, oddly enough, I find myself drawn very strongly to teal and that family of colors lately. Go figure.)
2. Is there a color you dislike? (I’m not overly fond of 70’s appliance colors—gold, avocado, orange…although I might be if I were a stove….)
3. Do you have any pets? What kind? (I have two indoor cats, and three outdoor stepcats whom I adore beyond all reason. I think cats totally rule. No, really. They rule the entire house. I’m only grateful they haven’t thrown me out yet.)
4. Is there any knitting-related item you’re longing to have? (I’m very into lace patterns lately, although this may change once I really start trying to do them and possibly discover that what was supposed to be a stunning shawl is actually something resembling a hole-y fishnet…but for now, lace patterns.)
5. Are you a sock knitter? (I am, roughly.)
6. Do you have any online wish lists? (I do not….I get out of control far too easily without the encouragement of dream shopping online…’s a sickness.)
7. Do you collect anything that isn’t terribly expensive? (I collect almost anything to do with cows, especially stuffed ones. But, for some reason, they have to be black and white. They’re funnier than the other colors, although I can’t, for the life of me, say why.)
8. What would make you smile or giggle with delight to find it in your gift box? (Anything that someone chose with the intent of making me smile, to be honest. But a cow something or other wouldn’t hurt a bit.)
9. Is there anything that would make you cringe if you found it in your gift box? (Nope, not unless I thought it caused you stress--emotional, financial, whatever--to give it to me. Oh, and I probably wouldn’t love a set of burnt orange washcloths…..but I’d get over it.)
10. Do you have a favorite edible treat? (I have a terrible sweet tooth and I think chocolate should be a food group all by itself. However, I actually don’t care for chocolates withfruit-flavored cream centers, or for chocolate covered cherries. I have no explanation for this aberration.)
11. Do you drink coffee, tea, cocoa, or….? (I drink all of the above, but I can’t have caffeine. Those observant folk among you are probably already pointing out that there is caffeine in chocolate, to which I say, “Don’t you have something you should be doing right about now?” No, seriously, I know that it does. I don’t gorge on it and I accept that small amount. I definitely don’t drink anything with caffeine, however.)
12. Are there any dietary restrictions your pal should know about? (Just the caffeine thing. I can’t stand seafood, but I somehow don’t imagine that you’d post me a pound of clams. The mailman would certainly be appreciative if you didn’t.)
13. Do you celebrate a winter holiday of any kind and, if so, would you like to receive anything holiday themed? (We do have a tree and decorate for Christmas. However, I tend not to like receiving themed gifts because then I only get to enjoy them once a year. When someone is kind enough to give me something, I want to be able to enjoy it all the time rather than putting it away after the holiday.)

That’s all I can think of. If there’s something else you want to know, e-mail it to me and I’ll ask your pal for you and let you know ASAP.

In the “I just can’t believe how darned clever I am” department, I finished the Samus waistband today and was angsting a bit over picking up 192 stitches evenly across the long edge of the braid. I don’t know about you, but I think those designers who toss that phrase off so airily (evenly across the braid, indeed) are really just trying to mess with my head. It’s quite possible you are more talented than I in such matters, but my attempts invariably have closely spaced stitches at one end and stitches with whacking great holes between them on the other as I try and fail miserably to get the spacing right for the number. Often I simply don’t count but put in as many as I want…but that probably won’t work so well for this, seeing as how the stitches I pick up now will need to be divided later for the fronts and the back. But (here’s the clever part, so pay close attention and pretend to be impressed) I got this terribly bright idea of dividing the braid into 8 segments, mark them with stitch markers, and pick up just 24 stitches between every two of them. Viola! 192 stitches! I amaze myself, I truly do. (Yeah, yeah, I know—you all have known about this for years…but allow me my moment in the sun. It’s so rare I get to be clever….).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Scenes From a Bavarian Village

That’s actually a shameless lie—there are far more photos of the trip TO the village than of the village…..but it’s prettier anyway. But let me back up and explain.

Mr. K and I ventured out to Leavenworth today. For those of you good folks from outside our fair state, Leavenworth is a little town up in the mountains that was founded somewhere around 1900 or so, with both lumber and the railroad as the main source of economy. Around the time of the depression, the railroad decided to move both its main office AND the tracks, completely taking it away from the town. As if that wasn’t bad enough, all the trees that were close to the river had been logged by then as well—which didn’t do squat for the economy. The town limped along with a fruit packing plant and a fair amount of determination, but by the 1960s was known as a “welfare town”. Then some businessman (whose name I really ought to recall if I’m going to go around imparting local history….but I don’t) opened up a hotel and decided to give it a Bavarian theme. Way he figured it, the town is surrounded by mountains and lovely meadows and, well, it looked like he thought Bavaria might feel. Other town folk liked the idea so much that by 1968 fully 14 businesses had continued the theme. Nowadays, most people don’t know it any other way. The town ordinances are carefully written and so strict that it is illegal to open any business of any kind whatsoever within its borders without a Bavarian theme. Truly. Even the local Safeway has to have Bavarian lettering on its sign and a roofline reminiscent of early Bavaria. I won’t even tell you about the McDonalds. Ultimately, it is a kitschy little place, heavily dependent on the money spent by tourists and loaded with little shops selling all manner of completely unnecessary but frequently charming things. Just to make sure we grab our wallets and drive up there, the town holds festivals of all sorts, all year round. Oktoberfest is an obvious one; they also hold a salmon run and a whole host of other stuff. People eat it up. I find it tends to be crowded and once you’ve seen it, well, you’ve kind of seen it. But it IS cute, and about once a year I get the urge to while away an autumn Saturday there, usually purchasing at least one thing that tugs at me and then proves itself later to be utterly useless. Such is the world of American consumerism. That said, I do have more than a little admiration for the folks who managed to pull the town out of its downhill slide, all without taking a single dollar of government money.

In any event, the trip really does need to be taken in the autumn. The town is fun, but the drive up is breathtaking, particularly when the leaves are changing. See what you think:

Breathtaking scene number 1.....

....and two and three.....

...the devilishly handsome Mr.K........The actual town itself, at twilight (after that intro, you'd kind of think it was about time, yes?)

One of the charmingly picturesque horses that draws one of the charmlingly picturesque carriages....I'm pretty sure "charmingly picturesque" is in the town ordinance, too. Anyway, this guy thought I was pretty interesting and actually tried to come up on the sidewalk to say hello, much to the consternation of the buggy driver.

And lastly, me. Holding the obligatory unnecessary object--a cow for my collection--on my knee. I would take enormous pride in my obvious self restraint....but for the fact that the yarn shop really didn't have enough of anything good to do anything with.....not that I looked or anything.

Friday, October 20, 2006


The goal was to assign exchange pals and post questions today, but I’m still short info on about half of our participants. I know that you all really want to get started, and I’m with you on that; however, if you don’t feel too badly about it, I think I’ll go ahead and give it until Sunday, just so those folks who expressed an interest have a non-work day chance to get their stuff to me. Believe me, I know how life happens, invariably when you’re trying to do something interesting; let’s face it: the only reason I have my info is that, well, it’s my info. I would have forgotten to get it anywhere else. In any case, even if it means a tiny little exchange group, we will definitely go forward on Sunday—but I’d love to have everyone, just cause y’all are so darned cool.

Meanwhile, I offer the following distraction from the pen of Miss Gracie M. Cat (I always thought she slept all day when I was away, but apparently she’s working on the great feline-american novel….who knew?). I believe the working title is “Your Humans and You: an Owner’s Manual”, and this excerpt is from Chapter 7: The Games Humans Play:

“For reasons that are not entirely clear, humans have a rather irrational tendency to purchase all manner of enjoyable toys and engage in a number of similarly entertaining activities and then become irate when we, understandably, attempt to play with them. If you, like I, have the questionable pleasure of sharing your home with one of those knitters who collects pairs of sticks and balls of string, you know what I mean. Just TRY running off with one of those balls of string (which brings up another question—does anyone else find that they have at least two, human-given names? Mine seem to be “Gracie”, “You little snot” and “NOOOOO!!!!”. Oh, and my second name is apparently “damnit”.) Another interesting thing is the spin-y thing. I’m not crazy about it in any case, given that it seems to turn perfectly delightful balls of string into considerably less interesting, non-rolling cakes, but I only got to paw at the spin-y thing once before being banished unceremoniously from the room. It’s almost as if she thinks SHE owns the house. Nervy little baggage, isn’t she?

However, as a cat of some wisdom and experience, I feel compelled to share with you the delights of The Bed Ride. You probably don’t know about this—humans are notoriously fickle and are known to be quite careless about time and waiting customers when running this ride. My human, for instance, runs it more days than not, but at varying times. And she only runs the really good one once per week. To be certain of participating, I find it necessary to spend as much time on the bed as possible, even if it means sleeping there. Do try to look casual.

It can take hours, days—but I am not a weak-willed or impatient cat. I can wait as long as she can. At some point, she will cave in and come to operate the ride. Properly run, the ride consists of sliding blankets, huge flapping things, and delightful humps of covers beneath which to hide. You will need to be diligent, however, if you are to be on full alert when the ride begins:

It is unfortunate that this ride often also includes use of the aforementioned secondary names, but I urge you to disregard this. Why would she come operate the ride if she didn’t want me to participate? Humans are irrational—it doesn’t behoove one to try to make too much sense of their behavior.

It is important when riding the bed ride to grab ferociously at the covers. It incites more screaming from the human, but is well worth it. Don’t hesitate here, but actually stalk the covers.

Hang on for dear life and don’t allow yourself to be shaken off. They’ll yell, but I think my human respects me the more for my determination. As an aside, if you can get a butt-wiggle going, this seems to melt the human heart, at least briefly, and may afford you a longer ride.

I am not personally a fan of the under-the-covers portion of the ride, although my sister adores it. If you do as well, try to avoid being under the fitted sheet. The exit becomes quite impossible to find and a huge panic will not only end the ride prematurely, it will cause you to fluff up in a most unflattering way. Some cats have been known to have a bushed tail for as much as 20 minutes, and no girl looks good like that.

The ride can last anywhere from a minute to 10 or even 15 minutes. Try to enjoy every minute of it. Do avoid pillows which, when thrown by a thoughtless, human bed-ride operator, can knock even the sturdiest of cats right off the bed. That kind of dignity loss…well, there’s no coming back from that one. Might as well fall off the TV. Also, try to make sure the human has a chance to smooth the sheets before jumping in the middle of them to wrinkle them up. Again, it’s more yelling, but well worth the trouble.

When the ride is done (or the human gives up), it is important to show your mastery of it and of your human. Remember, you never EVER want your human to get the mistaken impression that he/she is in charge. In this photo:

…it is clear who is master of the bed. The ride is over for the day, but I am still firmly on board. When the operator returns, I will be ready.”

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Birthdays and Bathrooms and Presents, oh my!

This is for my mother-in-law, a wonderful lady who gives lie to all those mother-in-law jokes by being warm, welcoming, kind, and generally fun to be around. You don’t have to spend too much time with her to understand where Mr. K gets his tremendous mind. She crochets rather than knits, but she IS a nurse and I love her dearly…so I’ll forgive her that one aberration…..Happy Birthday, J. I love having you as my cybermom.

In other news, the bathroom. You know how some people keep….er….reading material in the bathroom? This may be taking that idea to a new extreme:

I don’t understand this one bit….I mean, we have chairs and everything…..

No, in truth this is the result of Mr. K’s somewhat frustrating struggle to install a new toilet in the bathroom. You remember the bathroom—the one that taught me the meaning of the phrase “I’ll just rip down the wallpaper and slap on some new paint and it’ll be beautiful in no time?” Yeah, that one. If bathrooms could laugh, this one would be cracking itself up right about now. Anyway, “some new paint” became a new light fitting, a new window treatment, new towel bars, a new mirror—and a new toilet. Sadly, the floor turned out to be warped, and poor Mr. K spent a whole afternoon to get the thing to sit flat, to no avail. Finally, he piped the sealant around it and then looked for something to weigh it down……and, even though the thought of having to sit in one place for 24 hours has its temptations (bring me some yarn and a few bottles of water—I’m good.) I declined to provide that weight. Hence, the books. Those observant souls among you have no doubt noticed the Harry Potter book on top. I promise you, no wizards were harmed in the making of this photograph. The toilet doesn’t even have water in it.

I was going to wait until the whole room was finished and then wow you with my decorating prowess (which, in my terms, means I didn’t accidentally set anything on fire or cause a flood, I didn’t nail my foot to the floor, and the towels and stuff are at least remotely in the same color family) but had to show some kind of progress, if only to pretend to some kind of remodeling efficiency. So:

The shower curtain (which is actually really pretty) with the way cool little shower curtain rings that each have a different leaf painted on them:

I think you can sort of see the paint that taunted me so terribly in September. I like it, but I admit that only reluctantly….the paint and I still don’t speak and it would be fair to say that I carry a bit of a grudge.

I was going to put up a picture of progress on the Samus jacket, but it is quickly turning into one of those projects where 12,000 stitches somehow becomes a row and a half when you measure it. I haven’t even finished the waistband. My mom used to complain that real time bore no relationship to football time; I would add that it bears little resemblance to knitting time, either. In theory, the damned waistband should be about 37 feet long by now. The socks are moving along and the first one is well past the ankle—and that, of course, is the other problem. I can stuff the sock in my purse and knit between classes on Mondays and Wednesdays (2.5 hours between classes on those days) once I finish any homework or studying, but I tend not to take the sweater with its accompanying complex pattern and cable needle and row counter and… know. So the sock gets the bulk of my attention and appears to be the favored child while the poor Samus languishes at home feeling unloved. I’ll finish the waistband this weekend, promise.

The exchange draws near (which is better than me….I can’t draw at all, much less a “near”…..) and I am in need of some info. Here’s what I know:

Jill—I have all your info and you’re ready to go
Jo in the UK—I still need a street address for your pal
Faren—I have no info for you at all
Peg—I have your blog info, but no street address
Kim—I have all your info
Amber—I have no info on you
Suburbaknit—I still need a street address
Charity—You are good to go—I have it all
Pat in England—I have your blog address, but no street address
Marianne—I have it all, Baby

If you see your name with missing info, please send it to me today or early tomorrow, as I’m hoping to pair folks up and send you all the info you’ll need tomorrow. I’ll also post a questionnaire that you can copy and paste to your own blog with your answers (or in e-mail to me if you don’t have a blog so I can get it to your gift-or). If you’re having trouble accessing my personal e-mail, sing out in the comments. We’ll find a way to get together.

Oh, and it's not too late to get involved. If you're not on the above list but want to be, just zip your info over to me. As long as I have it before I blog tomorrow afternoon, you're in.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Back Down From the Ceiling

About a month ago I was in craft store (I know—strange, right?) and I found myself wandering over to the crochet hooks. I do not, as a general rule, crochet anything other than the rare edging but, like all good knitters, I do keep them on hand for the weaving in of those pesky ends (hey, I’m an optimist—it could happen). Still, I hadn’t been thinking that I needed any crochet hooks so it was a bit odd…..but I went with the flow and purchased a smallish hook. When I got home, however, I realized that I already had one in exactly that size. Wondering yet again about my feeble memory, I tucked it into my knitting bag for the inevitable moment when one was lost.

A few weeks later, I happened to be at Knit for Life and a woman came by who normally attends another of our groups. She had no time to hang around, but wanted advice on how to close the seams on her very first ever knitting project: several pairs of baby booties for her sister’s child. They were the type that has a seam running up the foot and the back of the ankle, so I suggested crocheting the seams closed, thus leaving a flat seam for comfort, and I showed her how. She caught on quickly and liked the idea; then, however, she frowned and said “But I have to leave now, and I don’t have one of these hooks.”

Now, call me weird (you won’t be the first, I assure you) but I knew in that moment that this was why I had purchased the extra hook in the first place: because someone was going to need one. And the point to all this? I do have one, I promise. It’s that I really do believe things happen for a reason, a fact which was brought home to me yesterday as I was, to use complicated medical jargon, “completely freaking out”. Mr. K came home and explained to me that he is, in fact, quite excited about upcoming opportunities. While it is highly—HIGHLY—unlikely that he will keep his job, he will receive generous severance along with excellent recommendations and will be in the perfect position to find a new job that feeds his soul far more than his current one does. In other words, the selling of his company is his extra crochet hook. And, to stretch a metaphor significantly farther than is decent, the person who needs it is just waiting to be found.

All of which goes to say that I am doing much better today and am, in fact, very proud of and excited for Mr. K who is going to be starting a new adventure. And I am not panicking one bit—I’m just waiting to see who will ask for a crochet hook. (I simply cannot be trusted with metaphors…..) So my thanks for your concerns. I feel compelled to point out, too, that the amount of concern suggests that I may have sounded crazier than funny….which was not my intent. Forgive me if I alarmed you. Sometimes I suffer from the delusion that I am significantly funnier than I in fact am.

Anyway, I stopped on the way home from school yesterday (perfect score on my A & P test—the crowd goes wild!) to pick up a funny card for my adventuring hubby, and noted in it that I was sorry I had been unable to find a “Congratulations on losing your job” card. This tickled him, and got me thinking that the card makers have missed quite a few good markets. For instance, we could have a whole line of knitting cards. Haven’t you experienced many situations where one of these would have been appropriate?

“Congratulations on finding that alpaca for 25% off!”
“With sympathy for the discovery of a mistake 20 rows back in your complicated lace pattern.”
“Merry Christmas knitting!” (also known as “the season of banging your head repeatedly against the wall to ease the pain of realizing that you have 14 hours left to do 200 hours worth of knitting”)
(In honor of Jo at Celtic Memory yarns) “So sorry to hear about the loss of your fine cashmere”
“Congratulations on the purchase of your 100th ball of sock yarn!” (Yeah, go ahead and look like you don’t know who could do such a thing—you know who you are)
“Hang in there—just because it was supposed to be a shawl doesn’t mean it has to be!”
“Congratulations on finishing all your UFO.s!!” Okay, so this one won’t exactly fly off the shelves……

I won’t even get INTO the possibilities beyond knitting—like mother’s and father’s day cards for dysfunctional families (“There’s never been a mother like you. Really. “), or cards that say what you’re really thinking instead of what you should say (“Heard about your new promotion. How did THAT happen?” and “Happy Bosses Day. You’re not quite as stupid as you look.” And “Get well soon…but don’t hurry back to work. We only just now managed to unf*ck everything up.”) and so on. There’s a whole undiscovered market here, People, I’m telling you.

In the “you know you knit too much when….” Department, I must offer this one:

I was driving to school this morning, listening to the news and heard the traffic guy talking about a “blocking accident”…..and had already considered numerous possibilities involving the skewering of fingers with blocking pins or the tearing of fragile lace by overzealous tugging before it dawned on me that he wasn’t talking about knitting.

I also found myself in Statistics class today considering the odds of finishing a shawl without a single mistake in the lace, and how those odds changed with each additional project, and…..yeah, it’s a sickness. It’s a bad sickness. Hey........ is there a card for that?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mr. K is a Funny Man

Really, he is. The amazing part is that he often doesn’t even know that he is. He just throws funny stuff out there, a natural comedian, and I am forced to be envious of the ease with which he can reduce me to hysterical laughter. To wit:

“Yeah, just pull that wallpaper off, throw up a couple coats of paint…shouldn’t take you too long.”
“I only channel surf during the commercials. And I’ll remember what channel you were watching, don’t worry.”
“I’ll be ready to go in plenty of time.”
“I’ll drive” which is not at all funny by itself, but takes on new heights of hilarity when followed about 10 miles down the road by “So, do you know where we’re going?”
“Why would you be insulted because I said your butt was big and full?”

And so on. But the real capper is this one: “Don’t worry.” Because, as we all know, Ms. Knitingale is a worrier of Olympic caliber. I worry that I haven’t studied enough. I worry that the cat feels unloved. I worry that anyone seeing my yarn stash will think I’ve lost my marbles. I worry that I don’t have just the right yarn for Eris. I worry that I’ll NEVER find the right yarn for Eris and will end up never making it after paying for the pattern. I worry that the waistband for the Samus cardigan will be too big if I make the size I was going to, but too small if I don't (there's a one-repeat difference in the sizes.....and one repeat is 32 rows) I worry that the fact that I blanked briefly on the PIN for my debit card means I have early onset dementia and in another week I'll be wandering down the street naked to steal the neighbor's pea gravel once piece at a time (I had a relative who did that...which is worrying, don't you think?). I worry that I don’t cook truly healthy meals for my husband and that I'm inadvertently turning his arteries to granite. I worry that no one will read my blog. I worry that everyone will read my blog and it won’t be funny or interesting and they’ll think I’m a dork. I worry that if the cat doesn’t stop kneading on my lap my thigh will look like a colander. (This last is a very current worry.) I worry that I dress like my grandmother. I worry that I dress like a teenager. If I can’t find something to worry about, I worry about that. You’re getting the picture, yes? Today, however, is the winner. My beloved Mr. K (and he knows I adore him beyond all reason, in spite of making gentle fun of him) got online this morning and learned, via the news, that the company he works for has been sold. His response was much like this:

Mine was more like this:

And he said, of course, “Don’t worry.” No prob. While you’re at it, how about you tell me to cure stupidity, stop the lawn from growing while keeping it green, and stop buying yarn? Because really, any of those would be easier than not worrying. (Okay, so maybe not the yarn thing…..I got a little carried away there…..).

Mr. K is a scientist and the biotech firm he works for was purchased by Eli Lily for $2.1 billion. I can’t even imagine how big that number is (and I worry that my inability to imagine this says something about the limited capacity of my brain). As a very experienced scientist with many, many skills and talents, Mr. K is unconcerned. The new company will keep him or it won’t. Either way, he’s good. I worry that I’ll never unpeel myself from the ceiling where I’m plastered in abject panic.

Intellectually, I know he’s absolutely right. It's fine. He may not lose his job and, if he does, he'll be in demand. It's not a problem. But, even as I say that, I worry that the fates are shaking their heads, murmuring in hushed tones that “she never learns, does she? Do you want to smite her, or shall I?” And smiting sounds bad. I’m not totally sure what it involves, but it definitely sounds like something to avoid.

So I’m fretting here at Chez Madwoman, and not with really any good reason. The "best" part of it all is that the deal won’t be done until the end of the year or the beginning of the 2007, so we probably won’t know until then what will happen next. And I’m pretty sure my eyeballs will pop if I attempt to maintain this level of panic for that long, which also sounds like something to avoid. So I’m breathing, and I’m plucking the cats claws out of my leg (even as she determinedly and cheerily reinserts them), and I’m trying to turn my worry to something more useful, such as today’s quiz in A & P, which I worry that I may not have studied enough for. See? Better already.

Oh, and I could also worry about this sock:

…which is a slightly cobbled together idea born of the twin facts that I love this lace pattern but prefer toe-up socks so the pattern is essentially upside-down as compared to the designer’s original intent. I may get it all the way up to the top and decide it looks ridiculous….hey, that’s a good one. That should distract me for some time. (Should I worry that it took me three tries to spell ridiculous right….? Maybe my mind is going…..and I’m in school so I need to be smart….yeah, that’s pretty good, too…..)

On a more serious (and grateful) note, I have to thank all of you for your kind words regarding my post about my dad. It touched and continues to touch my heart. I have my comments sent to my inbox, and I saved a bunch of these ones in a folder to keep because they mean so much to me. I recently went to a family reunion with him, and I was surprised at how much it meant to him. A few hours, that was it, and you would have thought I’d offered to take him to the moon for free. It’s the little things, I guess. I’ll take the advice many of you offered and keep reaching out. I can’t get those Sunday afternoon football games back, but I can build some good stuff now. As always, you guys continue to rock.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


The lousy thing about growing up, about growing older, is that you get to see the things you gave up in the brutal light of whatever wisdom you may have acquired. I was thinking about that today, thinking about the price of moving along the paths we take, and how we should maybe stop and negotiate that price but, by the time we see that, we’re way further down the road and you don’t ever get to retrace your steps. Let me try to explain where I’m going with this (bear with me—the story is a journey, too, and you kind of have to take the steps in order).

It’s Sunday, and it’s autumn—which means Seahawks football at the Knitingale house. And it was a hell of a game, played right down to the wire and won in an impossible, last minute save by the magic foot of Josh Brown. But there was a bittersweetness to it for me. It’s about my dad.

My dad is actually my adoptive dad but, with that, he is also the only dad I’ve ever known, and the only person worthy of the title in my world. We met him when I was about 9 or 10, although I didn’t really get to know him for another 15 years. He is a quiet man, a man gifted with his hands who can find the furniture hidden in wood and the buildings aching to be released from steel. He was in his 30s, I believe, younger than I am now, and he had never had a little girl. He has both sisters and brothers, but he is the youngest; I was definitely an enigma to him. Truth to tell, I had issues of my own and I was probably an enigma to everyone. I thought myself unlovable and didn’t entertain the possibility that I might be wrong. So I felt awkward with him. I don’t doubt he felt awkward with me, as well. We were like strangers at a dance, circling warily, trying not to miss the steps or the rhythm and mostly looking at our own feet when we should have been looking at each other, even if it meant falling down.

Dad loved—loves—football. Loves it to death. He works insane hours all week and, for as long as I can remember, likes to spend weekends watching football or basketball. We sometimes shot hoops together, but I was not a coordinated child and honestly, I still wasn’t sure how to be with him. Moreover, I was young, and with the self-centeredness of youth, I couldn’t see further than my own difficulties and my own path. On the weekends, my mother expressed exasperation at my dad’s football habit. She saw it as a waste of time, dull, and she hated how it seemed to take him away from her. And, to my everlasting regret, my desire to be like her, to BE her, caused me to ape that attitude. I decried football as “a bunch of men in tight pants falling down” and I never tried one time to sit with my dad and watch it.

This is what I mean about that cost, that price. I wish I had taken even one Sunday to ask my dad if he would teach me about football, and I wish I had sat down on the couch with him and watched the game and let him explain the rules to me. I wish I had been with him even one time, jumping up and down when the team scored or yelling at the ref when the calls went the wrong way. I might not have taken to football then, but I might have. And, even if I hadn’t, I’d be remembering that time with him now. Today, when I shouted at the quarterback for wasting their last time-out right by calling it right after the opposing team made a false start, I wish I’d been reminded of yelling at the tv with my dad. Once you’re down the road, you don’t get to retrace your steps.

Don’t get me wrong. My dad is still alive and he lives about 4 hours away, and we see each other and we get along fine. Sometimes I call him and talk about the game and he shakes his head in disbelief and says he never thought in a million years we’d ever have a conversation about football. And I wish that wasn’t true. I know you’re thinking that it’s “never too late”, but I think it both is and isn’t. It’s not too late to form bonds, to fatten up a relationship with more connections and to build new memories. But it’s too late to have THAT memory. It’s too late to remember being a teenager with my dad. In truth, I rarely spent much time with him at all when I was a teen. I remember squabbling endlessly with my mom, and I remember my poor dad, helpless in the middle. But I don’t remember much about him as a person, and I’m ashamed of that.

I’m not trying to get anyone to say that I was or am a good enough daughter. I’m the kind of daughter I am, and he’s the kind of dad he is, and neither one of us is perfect at it. But I wish I’d recognized how much he loved me, and I wish I’d taken the time to realize sooner how much I loved him. I wish I could say that my dad taught me all about it and that we almost never missed a Sunday afternoon football game.

My mother and I have issues--in the same way the Titanic had a few leaks, if the truth be known--but her health is failing her now and every time I go over to see them, my visit is consumed by her needs. My dad is a gentle and patient soul who will never complain about this, even if he only gets a few stolen moments of my time. I sometimes wish that wasn’t true, that he would demand that I come watch football with him, but that isn’t who he is. He takes what he can get and I give him what I can give him and we both know it’s not enough—it’s never enough—but it’s what we have. Sometimes we have quick, whispered conversations while my mother sleeps and we make it be enough. Always, my dad pets my head and hugs me tight and I feel in his touch that he treasures our stolen time as much as I do. He’s a man of few words, but I know. We both know.

I don’t know if those afternoons of football would make now any easier. That’s the hell of it—I’ll never know. When you’re a teenager, you don’t know how valuable some things are, and you give them away as readily as you’d hand over loose change or an extra pencil. He was there pretty much every single day and while he didn’t always know what to say, he loved me utterly. I don’t understand how he got to be 62, and I don’t understand how so much of our lives together have compressed into what seems like seconds and I can’t get anything back and it was just a lousy game of football and I swear to God—if I could go back, I’d watch football with him every Sunday and I’d jump up and down and yell and do all the uncool, un-girly things that I couldn’t bring myself to do. But there it is, isn’t it? Once you go down the road, regardless of what you paid, you never get to go back.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

And if elected......

"Anyone desirous of holding political office should be immediately disqualified for exactly that reason." I wish I remember who said that.

I know it’s quite absurd to wish that politicians were honest, or even reasonably decent. But I also know I’m probably not the only one who’s had it up to the metaphorical “here” (I’m 5’8”, so that’s pretty far) with all the nastiness and the mudslinging and the fact distortion perpetrated by both parties. I really want to see some honest election campaigns—like this, maybe:

“My opponent says that I have recklessly cut spending to social programs. True enough….but hey. As long as you’re not poor, you can still vote for me….right?”

“Sure I’ve had sex with every woman within a 20 mile radius. Isn’t that proof of what a good multi-tasker I am?”

“Anyone can balance the budget with good numbers. It takes talent to do it the way I do, with creative lies and careful hiding of funds.”

“Yes, I’ve hired every stupid relative I have, and they’re not doing any good whatsoever in my current office. But aren’t you glad they’re not working for you?”

“I don’t have an opinion on that issue…..largely because I don’t understand it. It doesn’t really matter, though, because I’m such a spineless weenie that I’ll actually take whatever opinion seems to be the most popular anyway.”

“Truth. It’s such a relative term…..don’t you think?”

“Tax cuts? Absolutely. As long as you’re all members of congress, you’re going to love my new budget plan.”

“Honestly speaking, I don’t know property tax from thumbtacks. My daddy pays for my house….but I can see you think it’s an important issue….. maybe your property NEEDS to be tacked down…?”

“Fair wages? Why, yes. I think my wages are very fair indeed….although I’ll be voting myself a raise as soon as I get into office, seeing as how I’ll have much more responsibility. You understand.”

“My opponent is definitely the better candidate….but please don’t vote for him. I hate that guy.”

“I would take a stand on the issue of having a national language, but frankly I have little or no skill with my own language or any other. I kind of hate to pin myself down.”

“True, my voting record is all over the place. But have you TRIED to read all those bills they put before congress? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Eventually, I just started flipping a coin.”

“Yes, I did say I’d direct dollars away from educational programs. Why not? MY children are all adults. I don’t give a rat’s tushie about yours.”

“I have absolutely no idea what anything I just said means. My speechwriter put it all together and I memorized it phonetically. Can we order pizza?”

“The homeless situation in our community is very disturbing to me. Please elect me so I don’t have to think about it anymore.”

“Elect me, and I will do my best to stay out of jail for at least the length of my term in office. As long as you don’t look too closely at the books….”

“My maid is undocumented, exploited, and horribly underpaid? Well…how would I know that? I don’t speak Spanish.”

“You think I’m mudslinging? Well, duh. I’m sure as hell not going to get elected on my brains, personality, or stand on the….what do you call them? Issues?”

“I’m just pretending to listen to you……”

I could go on all day…..let’s just say it’s gonna be a long election year.

In better news, I finished Mr. K’s socks:

He likes ‘em…but I had a heck of a time getting him to pose for a whole picture:

I’ve started a new pair of socks for myself in a lace pattern with some lovely wool I bought in Las Vegas (Wooly Wonders, check it out if you’re ever there…it’s on Tropicana, I think). It’s giving me fits, however, trying to get the numbers right and I absolutely refuse to reward the nasty thing by taking its picture. If it starts to behave, I’ll put one up tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Picture Day!

Remember picture day? At my house it involved a fair amount of squabbling between my mother and I as we butted definitions regarding what was my most attractive outfit. She favored crisp, navy and red dresses; I favored anything pink or purple or, I fear, paisley (this was the 70s, after all). And, inevitably, she would spend forever on my then waist-length hair, coaxing it into pretty waves that would, of course, fall out by picture time. (These days my hair has inexplicably chosen to have natural waves…..that I spend time straightening every day with a ceramic brush or a straightening iron….just try to tell me life isn’t ironic.) Any, this is not that kind of picture day. Rather, it is the kind of picture day wherein I am just daring enough to taunt Blogger by trying to upload some photos that will undoubtedly make it stomp its little feet and howl with rage. Never let it be said that I don’t live dangerously.

This first:

…is in our back yard. I just loved the crisp redness of these leaves. Just off camera is, horrifyingly enough, a spider web strung from the low branch of the tree to the ground, with a large spider pulsating menacingly in the middle. If the picture isn’t all that great, consider that I was taking it while trying to keep one eye glued on the spider and while trembling slightly. It is also worth pointing out here that my skill with a camera is such that, if you have the choice of having me take your picture and having the most important event of your life—say, your wedding day—captured on paper by a three-year-old with the 64-pack of crayola crayons, take the kid with the crayons. Every single time. You won’t regret it.

This next picture is one of the stepcats, Miss:

I like this picture, largely because she looks so interested in something, so like the mighty hunters that are her ancestors…..and not a bit like the egg with legs that she actually is. I swear, the fat gene could be easily isolated from this cat. We don’t feed her any more than anyone else, but I’m still half afraid that we may be shopping for a new cat door in the “stout” section of the pet store one of these days.

The view from the upstairs passageway, just outside my anatomy and physiology lab:

It really is that pretty around here. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am, but views like this bring it back to me. See the row of mountains in the distance? I wasn’t ever in the right place to get a picture of Mount Rainier for you, but I’ll do it one of these days. It’s Seattle slang to say “the mountain’s out” when the weather is clear enough to see it well….we know it doesn’t really go away but, during those long gray winters, we still wonder just a bit.

Mr. K’s second sock, nearly completed:

He loves the first and I’ll have this one done tonight, most likely. As you can see, he wanted ‘em looooooong. I nestled it in this lovely red tree on campus, proving once and for all that I very much love the wonderful folk who read my blog and will stop at nothing to make pretty pictures for you (nothing short of acquiring talent with a camera, that is), because I was getting quite a few interesting looks from the still somewhat pubescent boys. What, your mothers don’t go around balancing partially knitted socks in autumn trees and then frantically snapping photos before they fall out? Huh. Weird. Then again, I think anyone who walks around with his pants hanging off his ass and his boxers as the main fashion statement has a hell of a nerve calling me weird, yes?

And finally, this shot of the backyard, simply because it looked so pretty when I drove into the driveway.

The barn-looking thing is really a toolshed, and one which I typically refuse to enter for fear of hooved spiders. After all, these ones have tools…..that can’t be good.

Lastly, I have a funny for you—probably the funniest part of my day. I had an appointment with my doctor today (nothing interesting enough to write about, or serious enough to worry about, I promise) and she wanted me to see a specialist for something but couldn’t remember the name. No worries—she would have someone call me. After I finished class, I found a message on my phone so quickly dug out a pen and paper for the name and number of the doc and called them back. First they put me on hold for about 12 years (no, I never exaggerate….why do you ask?). Then there ensued a conversation that rivaled Abbot and Costello for sheer frustration and misdirection. She couldn’t figure out what I needed and I couldn’t figure out what she meant and—well. You understand. But I was nice to her because I’ve done her job and frankly, I would hug every single medical receptionist in the world if I could because really: if you have an employment choice of medical receptionist or setting fire to your nose hairs while singing broadway show tunes and poking yourself repeatedly in the leg with a fork, the medical receptionist one would be the riskier choice. Seriously. Anyhow, we finally got it figured out and she gave me the name of the guy. Great, I said—can you spell his name? And she did—just like this: “Oh, sure. That’s K like in cat…..” I was so glad that she realized what she’d said….’cause if she hadn’t, laughing would have been just plain mean.