The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Physical Therapists Eat Their Young

Okay, so I can’t prove that. But after today’s fun tug-n- pummel session on my neck, I am the lucky owner of a headache that is apparently too big for my head, and so is trying without success to pound its way out with a variety of large, heavy implements. I offered to give up the secret location of anything whatsoever, but no dice. So, in the name of distracting myself from the upshot of this dreadful behavior, I offer you the promised gift-buying guide for men to use when shopping for their wives. Equal time and all. You know.

Men: I know that many of you consider the cockpit of a Boeing 747 to be less complex than the woman in your life. I further know that buying a gift for the above mentioned woman can be terrifying and can involve strange stores with lots of pink things and perfumed air. Take a deep breath—it’ll be okay. I’m here to help. First, some clues that a gift may be just a tad misguided:

If it perfectly matches anything in your shop.
If your ex-girlfriend has one just like it….and it looked really hot on her.
If the woman who sold it to you has more than four unusual piercings, and you get a free piercing yourself if you buy just $10 more worth of merchandise from her.
If I would need to get 500ml breast implants in order to wear it.
If it IS 500ml breast implants.
If I will need to obtain a degree in engineering to assemble it, change the batteries in it, or get it to stop making that irritating noise.
If you think you might enjoy using it to annoy the cats.
If you bought it because you really wanted to find out what it does.
If the word “cleaning” is in any way used to describe what I might be expected to do with it. (Sorry guys, but think of it like investing. Say I have two hours to kill on a Saturday afternoon. I can use it to make a scarf or hat, or I can use it to make the bathroom clean. In three days, the scarf or hat will still be a scarf or hat. In the same three days, the bathroom will not only not still be clean; it will have graduated to filthy beyond my wildest expectations. Clearly, cleaning the bathroom is poor investment strategy.)
If it will “revolutionize” the way I think about cooking (the kitchen is messy enough. No revolutions, please).
If it slices, dices, and makes Juliann fries. We don’t even eat Juliann fries.
If you’ve never seen me wear anything like it, but figure showing a little more thigh can’t be bad.
If it is tickets to an event where I will be the only one without a beer belly.
If it came from the Gas-n-Go collection of fine jewelry.
If you purchased it at 7-11 at midnight on Christmas Eve (accept that if you have not shopped before midnight on Christmas Eve, the best gift is most assuredly no gift)
If it makes an amusing farting noise.
If it is nailed to a wooden plaque and sings anything whatsoever.
If I’ll need it out in the fishing boat or deer blind.
If it came free with a fill-up.
If it was in the “gifts for her” section of any store. No one actually knows who the “her” in “gifts for her” is, but you can be sure it isn’t me.
If it promises to simplify my life but has an instruction booklet with 150 pages written in 12 languages and features a support hotline.
If it’s a “fine fragrance” that happens to be sold by the quart.
If it is made of any fabric that glows in the dark.
If you’re pretty sure it won’t feel quite so scratchy once I’m wearing it.
If the guy on the album cover looks kind of like that singer I like but you can’t remember his name exactly.
If it has an attached grease catcher.
If you think your buddies would get a kick out of it.
If the accompanying literature promises to make me look 10 years younger. (Guys, do I need to tell you what’s wrong with that?)
If it will be the only pair of shoes I’ll ever need. (C’mon, that’s just wrong.)
If it’s a ball of yarn bigger than my head in neon acrylic that, amazingly, happened to be on a real good sale. Unless you have a burning desire for a neon acrylic sweater. Then it’s a fine gift.
If it was made by Ronco or Popeil, or was sold in an informercial by a guy with a bad fake suntan.

Disclaimer: Ms. Knitingale is acutely aware that the world is full of people with varying tastes, and the fact that she herself would not wish to receive any gift that could be worn in a duck blind does not imply anything about its value as a gift or about anyone who is aching to receive one. She asks you to remember that the above list reflects only her own personal tastes, however odd those may be.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Things that Flash and Go "Paaaarrrrp"

This is the fashion statement around Chez Freezingmyassoff (it's my neck and a scarf and just a sliver of a sweater that I knit but I'm not taking off any more layers in order to photograph it):

I don’t want to say it’s cold outside, but there are some pretty nervous looking brass monkeys wandering around, if you know what I mean. And the roads are slippery and the wind has started howling—a grand night to cuddle down and do some mindless reading. I.e., the dreaded woman’s magazine. Now, I admit that I have a problem with women’s magazines in general. For one thing, they all tell me what I need to fix and frankly, I’m pretty good at finding those things for myself (along with several others that don’t really need it but I have been known to be a tad bit self-deprecating at times….not that you ever would have noticed). For another, they’re contradictory. How many times have you seen the article about the newest diet with all of its irritatingly perky pep talk about how great you’ll look and feel about two pages away from the article with pictures and recipes for 6 variations on chocolate fudge cake and words about the importance of indulging yourself because life is short? Or “love yourself” type articles right by “before and after” photos where they made over a perfectly lovely woman because she wasn’t doing her make-up right? Not that I have issues or anything. But seriously—men’s magazines don’t do this. They don’t zero in on guy-type insecurities. They tell him all about the things he likes to do and show him photos of it. Kind of like knitting mags, which I’m starting to think are the only magazines I should read.

But what, you ask, prompted this tirade? Just this: it is the time of year for articles on “what to give your spouse for Christmas (or politically correct holiday of your choosing)”. Mr. K is absolutely and without reservation the joy and the love of my life but, according to these magazines, he is apparently not a man because if he was, the perfect gift for him would be on these lists. Not only does he not want a silk tie or expensive robe, he’d herniate himself laughing if I got him either. Neither does he need anything whatsoever to do with golf, or fishing, or hunting. He would be unlikely to jump for joy at an assortment of scented skin care products, a beard or nose hair trimmer, a George Foreman grill, cuff links, a heated foot warmer, or a popcorn popper with assorted flavored salts. Clearly, he is an alien, because the gushing journalist who wrote this article was quite certain that there was “something for every man” on this list.

In general, I know I’ve done well purchasing a gift for Mr. K if it a) came from a hardware store, b) has an assortment of buttons and switches that do untold numbers of things, c) comes in black or bright, safety cone orange, d) requires some adjustment to the electrical supply to the house and/or shop, e) can be operated by electricity or batteries, f) is sharp or can get hot (potential for injury is quite important here), g) has a 50+ page instruction book that he will not read, h) has a digital read out of anything, i) can clip to his belt or fit in his tool belt or, at the other end of the spectrum, needs its own cart, j) is shiny, k) has attachments, l) buzzes, hums, or whirs enthusiastically, m) irritates the cats, n) requires the use of safety goggles, o) produces some manner of manly thing that will need to be cleaned up such as metal or wood shavings, p) weighs five times as much as it ought to for its size, q) makes any sort of mysterious noise, r) has a nifty carrying case, s) requires permits from the county to really use it properly, t) can only be used in a well-ventilated area away from animals and small children, or u) emit noxious fumes and/or clouds of asphyxiating dust. Combinations of almost any number of these make for dandy gifts.

Clothes are all right, but must be blue, black, or gray, must not be any kind of manmade fiber (polyester melts and can cause severe burns if he sets fire to himself in the shop…..don’t ask), must not fit closely to the body, must not have anything that resembles a stripe, must be dark enough in color that salad dressing incidents may go unnoticed, and must have pockets. Lots of pockets. His pajama pants even have pockets (like he’s going to need to produce ID in his pajamas? Is there something I should know, I wonder?) Oh, and if I come up with the perfect, the most wonderful, the absolute holy grail of gifts, it’s a cinch that he just bought himself one. Only bigger and with more features. Features are quite important. Music? Not so much. Mr. K claims to be tone deaf and once amazed a car salesman who was pushing the “six cd changer” on the car stereo by replying earnestly “but I don’t HAVE six cd’s!” And he wasn’t really exaggerating.

Back to that magazine article. I rather suspect that the men this author has dated have all been stock characters from the back of a movie lot. They really should have me write it. I can see it now: “12 Things That Flash and Go ‘Paaaarrrp’ That Your Man Will Love!” You laugh….but if you’re married to someone with a Y chromosome, I’ll bet you’d read it.

In the name of fairness, I’ll post another entry soon about buying gifts for women. I think we’re a piece of cake to buy for, but I understand that men find us mysterious. Go figure. I’ll be nice and not point out that they also find mysterious such things as loading the dishwasher, cleaning the whiskers out of the sink, turning on the vent fan so the shower doesn’t create a tiny greenhouse in the bathroom, and successfully making a basket with underwear and a laundry hamper.

For now, I’m back to the noro. I’ve nearly finished the back of the sweater…which is apparently the cue for my treacherous mind to start saying things like “Are you really sure about that stitch pattern? Isn’t it a little busy? What about that other pattern that you almost made? Shouldn’t you try that? C’mon—what’s a little frogging?” And so on. I’d make up my mind….but I don’t have enough of that lovely cream alpaca to make up as big a one as I want…….

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The ice fairy has come to the Pacific Northwest, and she was evidently pretty ticked off about something or other. The roads are so bad that there are apparently still people trying to get home from the Seahawks game last night…..10 hours later. And my school is closed which leaves me with a whole lot of day and nowhere I have to be. Which further leads to more interesting blog posts such as “and then I knitted.” “I knitted some more.” “To be different, I knitted.” Not that I find this particularly objectionable in terms of how to spend a winter day (the knitting fairy is apparently much grander in her largesse than the ice fairy and is giving me an early Christmas gift) but I do fear that some of you may suffer serious forehead contusions from falling asleep while reading my blog and striking your heads on the keyboard. (Shame that the newer keyboards don’t have raised or indented letters like old-fashioned typewriters….that could at least make for an interesting game as you try to stamp assorted words on your forehead…..and it’s a sad thing when that would be more interesting than what’s going on at Chez Icingale).

In truth, I will probably try to do some more holiday baking today as well. Yeah, much more exciting. I baked. Then I knitted.

That said, I woke up this morning with a song in my head, as I pretty much always do, only today it was “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” (I know—the song fairy must be friends with the ice fairy and I’m on both of their lists). This made me think of my childhood when I inexplicably loved that song and sang it all through the month of December and beyond (yes, my mother does still speak to me…but it’s not a total surprise that I’m an only child). Only thing was, I had my own unique lyrics, including “Two Turtlenecks” instead of turtle doves, likely because I had absolutely no idea what a turtle dove might be (it sounded a bit like an animal husbandry experiment gone horribly wrong and I wasn’t having any part of that) whereas I saw turtlenecks nearly every day (usually while whining as my mother tugged them over my head in a continued and determined attempt to tear my ears off). It occurred to me that “Two Turtlenecks” might well belong in a knitter’s Twelve Days of Christmas and….well….you can guess where that led, no?

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Two turtlenecks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Five pounds of fudge. (note: I realize that this isn’t strictly speaking a knitting item….but if you’ve ever had to pick apart 10 rows of intricate lace without a lifeline, then you know that chocolate is an essential part of any good knitting bag.) Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks, and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Six Addis Turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks, and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Seven skeins of cashmere, six addis turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Eight brand new patterns, seven skeins of cashmere, six addis turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtle necks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Nine husbands cooking (also helpful to knitters, I think), eight brand new patterns, seven skeins of cashmere, six addis turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Ten maids a-cleaning, nine husbands cooking, eight brand new patterns, seven skeins of cashmere, six addis turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Eleven books on knitting, ten maids a-cleaning, nine husbands cooking, eight brand new patterns, seven skeins of cashmere, six addis turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks, and a tape measure shaped like a bee.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Twelve tins of hand balm, eleven books on knitting, ten maids a-cleaning, nine husbands cooking, eight brand new patterns, seven skeins of cashmere, six addis turbos, five pounds of fudge. Four balls of Noro, three crochet hooks, two turtlenecks, and a tape measure shaped like a bee.”

The really bad part? Not only does it fit the tune with only slight torturing of the meter, now after typing the whole thing out, I have it MEMORIZED. Yep. Now the knitter’s version is stuck in my head. Some people get songs stuck in their heads…I get imaginary songs stuck in my head. There must be a support group for this.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Pushing One’s Luck: Attempting to load multiple pictures on blogger for no better reason than it accepted the first two without complaint.

Wide-eyed Astonishment: The look one gets when it actually works.

Lazy Holiday Weekend:

(sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words….and the lazy amongst us don’t have to type so much)

Full-On Winter Blast in the Pacific Northwest:

Denial: We are not a bunch of snow pansies up here…we’re not we’re not we’re not.

Rationalization: 1. I used up five balls of yarn, therefore I can shop for yarn for three sweaters, a pair of gloves, a purse, two scarves, and unlimited sock yarn. 2. The new knitting magazines might have the perfect, holy grail of projects that the other 743,000 magazines and pattern books in my house don’t have. 3. I made one batch out of the 10 or so batches of Christmas baking I need to do; therefore, it is now acceptable to return to my noro sweater (I have not yet started stroking it and calling it “my precious”, but I fear this is not long in coming).

The above mentioned cookies….the kind among you will fail to notice that half of one is missing. I have absolutely no idea what might have become of it.

Bald Faced Lie: See above.

Diet: Living all morning on diet pop and cookie dough in the rather bizarre hope that it will somehow make up for a veritable flock of turkey meat and assorted side dishes sucked in over the last three days.

Logic: Something for other people.

My Logic: Something terribly creative and often unfathomable to mere mortals.

Necessary: 1. A thing which is extremely important 2. Essential 3. 50 years worth of yarn and more knitting needles than Dolly Parton has silicone. (See rationalization, above)

Fortuitous: When the rain stops long enough to get to the LYS, but starts again in time to avoid actually going outside to do any yard maintenance.

The white lines in this photo (if you squint you can kind of see them) were actually snow but they turned to rain quickly enough for my nefarious purposes.

Drek: What is guaranteed to be on every single channel (no matter how many you have) the minute you sit down with knitting and cat settles himself on your lap. It is tempting to believe that only one channel will show drek if the remote is out of reach, but this has been proven to be false. It is believed that the fates like to cover their bases—in case you don’t have qualms about dumping the cat off to reach for the remote.

Many Excellent Choices: What is guaranteed to be on every single channel (no matter how many you have) the second you commit to being in the kitchen with several batches of cookies.

Cajun Style: Cookies that had the misfortune to be put in the oven when a Scrubs marathon was on.


Again, a thousand words from one irritated, one-eyed cat who would like to sleep in the fabric scraps undisturbed, thanks ever so much.

Human Catnip (also known as Knitternip): Any sentence involving the words “yarn” and “sale”. It is highly effective to the knitting population and is unaffected by the amount of yarn in the user’s possession.

Ass-Couch Continuum: A dangerous phenomenon for knitters the world over, but most especially for those knitting a noro sweater while it alternately rains and snows outside and the fire is blazing merrily away in the living room.

Ironing Pile: ????? (also another definition for denial)

Holiday Weekend Countdown: Reason enough to go pick up that knitting again. (Obsessed is another good word….but we’ll just let that one slip on by, shall we?)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Traumatized By My Ass

Yes, you read right. I was traumatized by my own ass. It all started when I (quite innocently, I think) decided to go out last night to the local Value Village to scout up some men’s shorts. (I work out in them and, since I work out at home and no one has to see me, I choose comfort over anything resembling style in any way, shape or form.) Mr. K was with me and suggested as we left Le Village that we might want to STOP AT TARGET to see if we could find something lovely to wear with my newly finished Samus cardigan.

STOP AT TARGET, an innocent enough phrase most of the year, has a significantly more ominous meaning on the day after Thanksgiving. Specifically, it means one of the following:

a.) I would like very much to be elbowed 732 times, have shopping carts driven over my feet, and be head-butted in the crotch by small children hunting desperately for their mothers in the sea of legs.
b.) I would love to purchase clothing that has been tossed to the floor by the millions of shoppers there before me and is in sizes either too small to fit anyone larger than a toothbrush, or too large to wear if I am not tied to three friends. I would especially like it if these items of clothing have make-up stains on them from being tried on, and are in colors that make me appear to have jaundice.
c.) I am completely insane.

Nevertheless, there was a Thanksgiving miracle in that I found a lovely pair of pants that were actually in my size and in a color that didn’t make me want to vomit (a bad prospect on the day after Thanksgiving, I think). Moreover, I need more dressy pants because I am not allowed to wear jeans to Knit for Life. It was meant to be. I mean, there wasn’t a heavenly chorus and a beam of light or anything…but still.

So, I gathered up the pants and, still heartbreakingly innocent in the ways of Target dressing rooms, went to try them on. Oh, it started out okay. I shut the door, slipped off my shoes and jeans, bent over to pull on the new pants….and then I saw it. The mirror on the wall behind me. Tragically displaying approximately 40 yards of 41-year-old ass. Now, my ass is not actually in my everyday line of vision so I was fairly secure, until yesterday, in my fantasy that it was still roughly where it was 20 years ago. “Roughly” may have been an understatement. While it is not exactly resting on the backs of my knees, I think they’re getting to know one another. How did this happen??? WHEN did this happen??

I was mesmerized, the way a mouse will be hypnotized by the twitching tail of a cat. And I was wondering as I was being horrified, what store puts a full-length mirror on the back wall of a women’s dressing room?? I mean, unless it’s one of those special carnival mirrors that make you look really skinny……okay, yes, I know. It’s good to know how the outfit looks from the back. But, you know, call me old fashioned—I was HAPPY to just look over my shoulder, see nothing jutting out alarmingly, and go on. We had an arrangement, my ass and I. Don’t look, don’t tell. We were happy. Now this. I don’t mind getting older, I really don’t. But does my ass have to age at the speed of milk? I swear…..

In happier news, I did finish Samus, and I did get Mr. K to take a photo for you. Here, with the offending ass pressed firmly against a tree where it can harm no one:

I know you can’t see the detail all that well…..but you get the idea. I love it, but did have one small quibble with the pattern. Specifically, the width is dependent on the length of the waistband (which is knit vertically). Also, you can’t stop in the middle of a pattern repeat on the Saxon braid and the braid repeats over 32 rows. So the difference between two sizes is not an inch or so of width but rather, 32 vertical rows turned on their side. Which is a long-winded way of saying I would have liked it a bit smaller, but the next size down would probably have been smaller than I wanted (I want to be able to wear it over a bulkier turtleneck, should the mood and the Northwest winter strike me). Other than that, it was a fun and easy knit and I didn’t find any mistakes in the pattern (or, if I did, I’m goofy enough that they worked for me….not an unrealistic notion, actually).

I also started knitting with the Noro. I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, so I’m adapting a pattern that I think will have some stitch interest but still show off the Noro colorways. See what you think:

The original pattern is tunic length which, given the abysmal state of my ass, you would think would appeal to me. But no, I tend to think I look like one of the Golden Girls when I wear tunics, so I’m going to shorten it to graze the top of my lowest jeans. It’s also supposed to be a turtleneck but I’m not sure about that. I’d really like to make it a scoop neck, but I’m afraid that doing that will give me big chunks of one color on either side of the neckline. What to do? Suggestions, anyone? Anyone made a Noro sweater and want to share some wisdom? And what do you think of the pattern so far? At this point all I have is Ed’s opinion….and he’s a bit biased since I keep slipping him bits of turkey.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beautiful Things

With the turkey remains in the fridge waiting for the traditional late night application of bread and mayo, and everyone in the house stretched out and dozy from an overdose of tryptophan, it is time I think to write something about thankfulness. But I also think I’d like to do something different. I am, of course, thankful for Mr. K, the love of my life, for my health, for our continued safety and well-being, that we both wake up every day with a home and food and are able to read and care for ourselves and for each other. Of course. But, in the interest of offering a new perspective, I thought to make a list of things that are beautiful to me. Beauty is, after all, an entirely subjective thing and it is this beauty that makes life interesting, challenging, wonderful, dizzying—and, above all, something for which I am profoundly thankful. So, for your perusal, my first ever Thanksgiving list of beautiful things:

The way autumn air smells faintly of woodsmoke, even when you can’t see a fire anywhere nearby.

The curl of a cat on the back of a chair, stretching one paw dreamily at my touch.

The way my husband places his palm briefly on my back as he moves past me….just for that second of extra connection.

The click of knitting needles as a dream is turned into something tangible.

The way that sorrow and hurt and even loss all serve to help make life more important. And, ultimately, more beautiful.

An e-mail from a treasured friend whom I have not yet met, but whom I have known forever (you know who you are)

The faint, persistent murmurings of trees bending in the late autumn wind

Teenagers in a mall, giggling and shoving each other as they try on assorted variations of adulthood, all of which are still a bit too big.

The last smidge of frosting in the bowl before you fill it with hot water.

The sun caressing the sky in one last, passionate embrace before yielding to the velvety black evening.

The exhausted young father, trailing after his daughter this morning in the gray drizzle while she pedaled enthusiastically on a bright pink bike and all but glowed with delight.

The same father, carrying the bike and the now cranky child all the way home some 10 minutes later.

A newly changed bed with a freshly washed blanket tucked up around my shoulders

The smell of an old book.

An arrow of geese hurrying south, honking encouragement to one another as they go.

A new calendar, with all the pages blank and open to possibilities

People who’ve never met working side by side for a common cause, brought close by the desire to effect change

Being folded into a pair of loving arms, no questions asked.

Being the one to do the folding.

Helping someone to hold even a fraction of their pain, for even a fraction of a second

Vanilla body lotion when you’re not going anywhere, but just because you like it

An oversized, utterly soft sweater whose sleeves can actually cover your hands, should you choose.

Waking up and knowing that the person sleeping next to you means more to you today than ever.

Loving where you are, right this second.

All of you….each and every one of you who have entered my life and my heart through the strange and wonderful land of blog.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours. May this day—and all of your days—be filled with beautiful things.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Accumulated Wisdom

Some helpful truths from the House of Knitingale on this Fine Thanksgiving Eve

1. The day before a major holiday (such as...oh...let's just say Thanksgiving) is a signal for approximately 5,000,000 extra people to take the to roads in Seattle and the surrounding areas. This is odd, because
2. The uberperky news caster this morning noted that there were a record number of people at the airport this morning, apparently leaving. This can only lead to one conclusion, specifically
3. Each and every person who leaves Seattle refuses to do so until a replacement has arrived for them. Along with several friends to fend off loneliness and any sort of sane driving conditions. (Why, yes, I HAVE been promoted from Queen of Hyperbole to Goddess of Hyperbole, and thank you for noticing! It wasn’t achieved without real sacrifice.)
4. The worst possible time to realize that ones roots have begun to show, particularly when you only really have time to do them on the weekends so it’s either this weekend or a week and a half from now and you have absolutely no hair color available, is Thanksgiving Eve.
5. The number of times it is possible to sit through the same traffic light while making no progress without screaming, clenching ones fists, and chewing on the upholstery….well, okay. I don’t exactly know that one. Kind of like the Tootsie Pop commercials with the turtle—I never got past three.
6. Having made the questionable decision to sacrifice peace of mind for vanity and pigmented hair (however falsely pigmented it may be), the next stupidest decision in the history of the planet (I mean, other than “What’s say we all roll in honey and go play with my pet ants?”) is probably “Gee, there’s a Joanne’s Fabrics in the same parking lot as the Safeway….and my knitting tote broke quite spectacularly the other day….maybe I’ll just take a quick peek.”
7. Jeans, when freshly washed and (most especially) when the favorite pair of the owner, have the uncanny ability to wick muddy water from puddles anywhere within visual distance all the way up to the knees. At supersonic speeds.
8. Umbrellas, though inclined to roll around all over the car and be completely in the way on pleasant, sunny days, have a unkind tendency to wedge themselves under a seat when raining, requiring the owner to stand on her head over the back of the front seat with her rear end pressed unattractively up against the dashboard and wildly frizzing hair in her eyes.
9. People can give a person very strange looks in a parking lot. You'd think they never lost an umbrella.
10. The number of seemingly sensible women who nevertheless decide to shop for hundreds of dollars worth of craft supplies on the day before Thanksgiving at 4:00 is actually quite high. (In my defense, I truly thought that most people would wait until the sale this weekend….which was desperately wrong.)
11. One of the worst things you can see in a craft store on Thanksgiving Eve (besides the madding hordes of shoppers) is a small boy with a handful of marbles and no parental guidance (I only wish I was kidding).
12. It is possible to avoid falling on one's derriere while dodging stray marbles and a small boy, but a fairly dorky looking dance is necessary to do it.
13. The slowness of any cashier as well as the number of inane stories she feels compelled to tell the shopper ahead of you, is directly proportional to the wetness of your clothes, the weariness of your body, and the current level on your personal crank-o-meter.
14. While I can remember all the important family birthdays, the type and yardage of a frightening amount of my yarn stash, and all of my significant PIN and other ID type numbers, I am completely incapable of recalling that there is a 37-foot-deep puddle right next to the drivers door of my car if I park in one particular spot. Which I unfailingly do.
15. My brown boots are not waterproof.
16. My burgundy socks are, likewise, not waterproof.
17. When I have forgotten to set the thermostat to warm the house up a bit towards the time I expect to be home, there is not enough fleece in the world to make up for wet feet in a 60 degree environment.
18. Cats do not like being forced to act as hairy hot water bottles in a 60 degree house. (Although they are quite keen on it if it is 95 degrees outside).
19. It is quite possible to have a headache larger than one’s actual head. But it takes this sort of Thanksgiving Eve afternoon to do it.
20. Someone needs to invent chocolate aspirin. Or IV chocolate. Or something.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Optimism (cock-eyed or otherwise)

Knitters are optimists. And not garden variety, “the glass is half full” kinds of optimists, either. Remember that story about the little boy who’s all excited to receive a barn full of manure for his birthday because he just knows “there’s a pony in there somewhere!”? Well, knitters not only know there’s a pony in there, we wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the pony is in fact a unicorn, and it’s holding a bag in its mouth that contains a whole bunch of balls of 100% cashmere. In our favorite color.

I used to think this was inborn—that the optimists of the world were, for some reason, drawn to knitting. But this is clearly not the case. As a magical thinker from way back-- that is, I am morbidly certain that whatever I think will happen will not, and so the only way to be assured of a good outcome is to think quite intently about the awful alternative (I said it was my natural state. I didn’t say it wasn’t messed up.)—there is no way that the secret world of optimistic knitters would have even agreed to open the gates for me if such optimism were a requirement. They probably would have packed up their yarn and headed for the hills, if the truth be known. Which leads me to conclude that there is something about knitting that induces a zen-like calm, an assurance that all will be well and, if not, it will probably make for good blog fodder or knitting group stories. Don’t believe me? See if you recognize yourself (I bet you do).

Have you ever:

…found yourself in the first third of a tedious stretch of knitting, stopped to pick it up and see how much farther you have to go, knit for all of five more minutes, and then checked again as though 12 inches might have magically appeared?

…realized that the garment you’re making is far too big but kept knitting anyway because “it might look better once it’s done”?

…tried on the same too-short sweater more than three times because this time, tugging on it might actually help?

…repeatedly straightened/uncurled/smoothed out an errant piece of knitting with your fingers because this time it might stay?

…purchased yarn on sale even though you didn’t like the color because it might look better at home?

…kept a half knitted item in your knitting bag/stash closet/thrown under the couch for six months or more because you’ll “get back to it”? (we will not discuss the half of a pink pomotamus sock living in shame in the bottom of my knitting bag. I just know that someday I will not hate the knitting of that pattern more than I love the look of the finished product)

…grabbed a knitting project to take with you but not brought along the pattern because you’re sure you’ll remember?

….grabbed the same project but failed to bring a crochet hook because a dropped stitch didn’t even cross your mind?

….or another ball of yarn because “this one will last”?

…gone back to the same LYS so often that the staff roll their eyes when you walk in because you’re just sure they’ve gotten something new and wonderful in since you were last there….2 hours ago?

…haunted the abovementioned LYS because you are positive that the delectable yarn you crave is bound to go on sale? (Trendsetter Tonalita…in the pink zebra colorway….I am unreasonably in love with it and I just KNOW it has to go on sale at some point)

…knitted yourself a hat/scarf/mittens/whatever even knowing that you never wear this type of item, because it’s so cool that you’re bound to wear this one?

…given away some yarn and actually believed (however briefly) that this attempt at destashing would not result in the purchase of at least as much new yarn as you gave away?

…purchased all you need for a project except for the size 6 circ because you just know you have that size somewhere…even though you don’t remember purchasing it, using it, or seeing it?

…attempted to knit over the cat in your lap because this time the cat will restrain itself from biting the yarn, batting at the needles, and otherwise being a giant pain in the tush?

…looked at the same yarn websites on a daily basis just in case today they happen to be selling cashmere in your favorite color for $2 a ball?

…enthusiastically explained your current project to a group of completely uninterested muggles because you just know that if you explain it right, they’ll totally understand and want to rush out and buy knitting needles and yarn?

…continued knitting on an item for a small child even though said child is now old enough to be married. For the second time. After all, someone might be able to use it.

But see, I don’t think this is a bad thing. Along with all of the above are some other rather wonderful things—like those intrepid knitters who look at a sweater and, without benefit of pattern or even seeing the darned thing in person, think “I can make that.” And do. Or the ones who start a pattern in expensive yarn, even though the pattern is labeled advanced and even though there are at least three things in it that they’ve never done before. And they might swear a lot but they do it. I’m starting to think that all knitting is a form of optimism, a leap of faith. We start with this pile of fiber and these two sticks….and we dream. How can that be a bad thing?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rainy Days and Sundays.....

It was my hope that I would have Samus all finished this afternoon, and that I would be posting a lovely photo of myself, tomato-head and all, modeling the completed garment. In my head, I probably imagined some ooohs and aaaaahs as well…..things are much as they always are here at Chez Delusional. But here’s the thing: just because I finished all the knitting, and just because I made use of the time the Seahawks were busily getting themselves smeared all over the football field to join all the parts (it was no hardship—I couldn’t bear to look, honestly), is in no way suggestive of the time needed to complete the item in question. See, it has this attached I-cord edging. And honestly, thinking that I’d whip through it all and be wearing it tonight is not unlike Noah’s wife grabbing her purse as she climbed onto the ark but not bothering with her toiletries because “it’s just a quick spin around the lake, right?” (A three hour tour comes to mind here….but let us not digress into scantily clad women and coconut phones, hmmmm?) I have been knitting on the blasted thing for the last hour and a half and have exactly half of the back neck, down the front of the left neck and a quarter to a third of the left front done. And that’s it.

Notice how I have previously arranged the sweater lovingly and photographed it with exquisite care….whereas this time I have tossed the nasty thing onto the couch and, sighing, grabbed the camera. Patience, thy name is most assuredly not Knitingale. But come on—I can hear that Noro calling, begging, PLEADING with me to make it into something splendid, and here’s Samus plodding along. It’s enough to drive a knitter mad…..even if she wasn’t significantly down that particular trail anyway.

There was a reason for the Noah reference; specifically, that the skies split open once again and dumped water on us all night and all morning. I’m so glad we ran our errands yesterday while it was nice, so we had today to snuggle up, knit, and watch our football team humiliate themselves (odd…they knew how to play last week…..perhaps I should send them a note pointing out that, while the other team doubtless appreciates it when you give them the ball before you have to, 4 turnovers in one game is perhaps more kindness than should be shown. Just saying.). I’m starting to think that Northwesterners will be readily identifiable before too much longer, by the persistently frizzy hair and permanent pruning of the skin. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some yards where the pink garden flamingos have been replaced by flocks of rubber duckies…..

Eddie thinks the rain is God’s way of telling him to come sit inside and groom compulsively, and it dawned on me that I’ve never given you any perspective as to how darned big he really is. So, here he is with Mr. K:

See what I mean? Huge cat. He’s a sweetheart, too, as you can tell…but I still wouldn’t be completely surprised to find a dead mailman on the porch one day when Monsieur Stripes starts wanting more challenge than mice, snakes, and voles can offer. “Oh, it’s okay, he’s a sweetie, really. Just run fast…and don’t look like a rabbit. He loves rabbits.”

After the game (game? Massacre. General Custer put up a better showing than this.) I was continuing to struggle with that darned edging (not that it doesn’t look nice, and not that it’s even all that hard….but it requires going back and forth every four stitches between two dpns and a crochet hook and, well, if I wanted a hobby juggling I’d invest in clown shoes and a red nose…you know?) and some show came on wherein people were cooking pickled pigs feet. Hm. Have we not progressed far enough in this country that we can avoid eating feet for dinner? Something just seems wrong there. Besides, don’t pigs have hooves…which would be a bit…oh, what’s the word….crunchy? Disgusting? And what’s next--hoof and snout pizza? Beak pasta with rooster comb sauce? I thought my mom was kidding when she said people eat oxtail. I'm pretty sure there are meatier areas on an ox than the tail. Besides, look where it’s been hanging for the duration of its life. See? Standards, people. We have to have standards.

Then again, I am the most notoriously picky eater in the world—some might say that I have all of the culinary sophistication of a four-year-old and those people would be quite right. Remember when you were a kid and you said that when you grew up no one would tell you what to eat and you’d eat ice cream for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch, chocolate cake for dinner and cookies all day long? Yeah….that still sounds pretty good to me. Only now I want an occasional mocha latte as well. I’m a LITTLE more sophisticated.



Saturday, November 18, 2006

I Have New Friends!

These are the lovely ladies of Little Knits. If you’ve been to/ordered from them, you already know how awesome they are. If you haven’t—well, hurry!!! It was Marianne who introduced me to them, which is funny because they’re in Seattle, I’m in Redmond (just east of Seattle) and she’s in…..Oklahoma. (Yeah…..I’m so familiar with my own city. If you ever come see me, be sure to bring a good map. It’s pretty clear that I’ll get you lost in a heartbeat. “Space needle? Isn’t that some sort of big pointy thing? Let’s see….I’m pretty sure I heard about that….” ). I ordered yarn from them once I followed Marianne’s sage advice and checked them out and I swear—the only way they could have gotten it to me any faster would be if they were sitting out in my driveway with an armload of yarn, one finger poised towards the doorbell. Awesome service.

Anyhow, hubby and I made the trek across the water (it’s a half hour drive—but I always make it sound like an arctic adventure. It’s the whole “driving in Seattle thing. Seriously, do not get me started. There are times when it would be quicker to run into Seattle across the traffic, leaping car roof to car roof in the manner of some sort of adventure movie), so we decided to check out Little Knits in person. Turns out, I LOVE these women! I’m the one in the black sweater looking oddly red faced (great, some women become handsome, or elegant, or appear to have more character in their faces as they age…I trade my head in for a tomato); sitting next to me under a pile of Atacama alpaca (currently on a great sale, as I recall) is Sue Fulay (pronounced like “July” only with an “F”). She’s unbelievably funny and quite possibly invented the concept of customer service. Within seconds of walking into the charming little place (which was wall to wall with yummy yarns…I’m pretty sure I had a dream about something like this) she had my husband settled in a comfy chair and Anna (the dark haired one standing in the photo; next to her with an armload of yarn is Rebecca) was helping me find stuff, getting things down for me, and checking inventory for anything I wanted but couldn't find. Talk about wool heaven. Even Mr. K said it was a ton of fun because all of the women were so fun and funny.

And….look what followed me home:

Actually, it was more than two balls that followed me home (how could I resist? It was so cute, wagging its ball band and begging to be made into a sweater….). Even Sue’s regular price on this stuff is better than I’ve ever seen at $8.50 a ball—but she currently has it on sale for $6.29. Or rather, that’s what it ended up costing to have it follow me home…since surely I wouldn’t add yarn to my already insane stash. By the way, does anyone know if stuffing a guest mattress with yarn is a feasible thing…..? No, no reason. I just wondered. What about a seldom used couch?

Anyway, if you haven’t checked out Little Knits, do. I love this place. I told Mr. K that today was the most fun I’ve ever had buying yarn, and it’s true.

The rest of our day was spent downtown at the Science Fiction museum. Yep, Seattle has a whole museum dedicated to Science Fiction. It’s tucked in with the Experience Music Project which, in my opinion, (cover your eyes if you love the EMP building) is the ugliest building to ever sprout, funguslike from the urban landscape. I tried to get a picture of it for you, but even the camera didn’t like it. I couldn’t blame it. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been surprised to have it slam its shutter closed in protest. But I digress (unusually for me, don’t you think?).

The Sci-Fi museum is big, and loaded with memorabilia from sci-fi literature, TV, and movies. As someone who grew up watching Star Trek (I had the worst crush on Spock….which probably says something a bit odd about me, but I prefer not to examine it too closely), I thought this was pretty great. They had the original Capt. Kirk chair, along with several of the uniforms. (Remember the tiny little dresses they made Uhura and the rest of the women wear? Yep, they’re that tiny. One false move in those and the world’s your gynecologist.) They had stuff from Star Wars, Blade Runner, War of the Worlds, Battlestar Galactica—you name it. If it’s science fiction, it was there. We had a blast. My only frustration was that they didn’t allow cameras so I couldn’t take a single photo for you, just in case you actually give two balls of cheap yarn one way or the other about sci-fi. Bummer.

In the walkway between the two museums (which share the building), they’ve placed a number of costumes, mostly from famous musicians such as Elton John, Sonny and Cher, Kiss, etc. but some, inexplicably, from just random famous people. So, naturally, I had to take a photograph of Mr. K next to the one that best shows how I see him:

And no, I don’t mean I see him wearing strangely high wasted briefs and red rubber boots. Rather, I mean he's my hero, my SuperHubby. He may not be able to leap tall buildings (45-year-old knees, you know), but he's still the most super thing in my world. (All together now: AWWWWWWW.) In case you were wondering how his hand is, he encouraged me to take this one in the odd modern sculpture outside:

We had a great day. And not just because it had yarn in it….although I don’t see how that could possibly hurt.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Am a Paragon of Self-Control

Oh, quit giggling. I could be. It’s within the realm of possibility. Look, I’ll prove it:

This is the lovely box of goodies that arrived from the even more lovely Pat in England. How awesome is she? I didn’t even tell her about the macaroon thing, but she somehow magically knew and I am in choco-coconut heaven. But I’ll have you notice that all of the goodies remained intact until such time as I could take a picture for you. Not one delectable morsel tasted. Not one cup of raspberry rosehip tea brewed. (I love rosehip tea….but I have wondered on more than one occasion about this whole notion of roses having hips. Do they have breasts, too? ‘Cause if they don’t, that would make them very much pear shaped, and I would definitely feel their pain. At least roses don’t have to try to buy jeans.) Anyhow, this is clearly proof that I am indeed a paragon of self control. (If you’re taking bets as to how many fractions of a second it took me to get the photograph taken so I could dive in….well, I have no comment. A girl must retain some sort of dignity.)

The fact that I am even now snarfing down chocolate macaroons in a state of childlike bliss says nothing whatsoever about my willpower. It may say a fair amount about my won’t power….but that’s a whole other thing.

I tried to get a good close-up of the card which I absolutely love—it says “Socks, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”. Honestly, if I didn’t worry what people might think about the drug part, I’d start a knitting group and call it that because it’s that darned funny. Oh, and check out that sock yarn (speaking of socks, which we were). I’ve seen it and wanted to knit with it but had never done so. Now, the yarn is mine and the socks are simply a matter of time. I can’t quite decide whether I want to do solid color heels and toes……

Which brings me to an interesting point: I can’t speak for all knitters, of course, but I find that I am constitutionally incapable of walking into a yarn store and seeing yarn. I see sweaters and socks and shawls and all manner of knitted things, just waiting for me to personally set them free. And there is no question that my imagination is far bigger than my knitting speed. Or my stash closet, for that matter. And, as I’ve mentioned before, my attention span is about the size of a gnats navel so about five minutes after I’ve finished the cast on and started working on the one perfect project that I simply couldn’t wait to start and would bring me hours of sheer knitting joy……I’m already thinking about when it’s done and I can start making something new.

I sometimes wonder what the project that could hold my attention would look like. It would have to have multiple stitch patterns, probably several color changes, several different types of cable, and it would have to have a few plain areas for mindless knitting purposes. I rather suspect that the resulting multi-hued, multi-patterned atrocity would result in my being immediately wrapped up in burlap and tossed out of town where no one would have to look at me, should I actually attempt to wear it. Which is why I make lovely green cardigans and their ilk (what exactly is an ilk? Does anyone know? Do I have ilk? If I do, how come I don’t know what they are?). See, at present, Mr. K will walk with me in public and admit that he knows me, which I think is a thing to be cultivated.

That said, I just finished the last sleeve of Samus this morning (pause for a moment of cheering and joy). All that remains is assembly (pause for a moment of heavy dread……if anyone has a secret for stitching seams so they look perfectly wonderful the first time, I’m all ears), the i-cord border, and the zipper. Notice the casual use of the phrase “and the zipper”. One would almost think that I was supremely confident about this process. “Zipper? Oh, pshaw. A piece of cake.” One of the nice things about the on-line medium is that you can’t feel my sweaty little hands or hear the pounding of my terrified heart. I’m planning to keep the chocolate macaroons close at hand for this process. See, Pat? You’re kindness may end up saving the Samus. I’d probably be doing that very thing now, but for the fact that I have to leave for school soon. (Which, horrifyingly enough, will involve dissection of a sheep brain. A SHEEP brain. What kind of school expects knitters to cut up parts of sheep? It’s wrong, I tell you. Completely wrong. I’m thinking of collecting myself a whole skein of knitters and staging a knit-in. Okay, not really….but wouldn’t it be cool? Not that it would be a very pushy sort of protest. “What do we want?” PEACE! “When do we want it?” Uh…hang on…let me just finish this row…..)

As I finished the final sleeve and before I could break into songs of joy that would terrify the cats, I stepped into the kitchen for exactly 40 seconds to grab a healthy snack (heh—you fallin’ for that one?) and returned to find this in my knitting spot:

I swear—40 seconds. He had to have been poised like a loaded spring. A big, striped, purring, loaded spring. What cracks me up now, though, is how complete the ruse is. Pet him, talk to him, take flash photos of him—he is no way no how going to admit that he’s awake. And, me being me, I actually sat on the edge of the couch to finish the casting off of my sleeve and the eating of my fresh veggie sticks with tofu dip (HAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, man…..I’m just cracking myself up!) rather than disturb the Striped One. Remember that sale on crazy I mentioned? Yeah….I may have stocked up.

Anyway, thanks again to Pat for making my day. I’m going to think of you as I munch on chocolate, and I promise NOT to think of you when said chocolate is deposited unceremoniously on my ass. Some things are just worth the risk.

Oh, and before I forget: thanks so much to Jude in So. Cal. for delurking. Your kind words touched my heart big time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


If you go into a kindergarten classroom—any kindergarten classroom—and ask the children who among them is an artist, every single hand in the room will usually go up. And every little artist will be delighted to show you exactly what they mean. If you go into a sixth grade classroom and pose the same question—even if it’s the same kids 6 years later—you will be lucky to see even one hand. And even that one may be reluctant to share their work. If the one hand belongs to a female, there’s a better than even chance that she’ll tell you that her art is not much. I wish I was making this up, but I’ve read the studies. We start out understanding our own value, understanding the precious uniqueness of who we are, and then we allow it to be squashed out of us.

I know what you’re thinking—not everyone has the artistic ability to make money or become famous as an artist. But kindergartners don’t know from money or fame. They know that they can take a pencil and a piece of paper and make something that is pleasing to them. Later, they decide that what they create only has value if someone else says it does. I think this is a heartbreaking thing—this transition from self-acceptance to self-doubt. I mourn all the wonder that is lost, buried in the minds and souls of all those people who no longer believe it to be worthy.

See, I was thinking about all this today. I was thinking about it because I am a person who has always been plagued with self-doubt. Indeed, I’ve fought it so long and so hard that I know my opponent well and it has had to learn to disguise itself in order to avoid being summarily booted out of my head. (It would be a lie to say that I don’t weary occasionally of this endless battle for self, but that’s a post for a different day.) If that dreadful little voice was saying something direct like “You’ll never make it into nursing school. You’re not good enough” why, I’d have no problem sending it packing. So it becomes insidious. It tells me I’m tired of school, don’t want to have to compete when I’m trying so hard to learn, maybe don’t even want to be a nurse, whatever. But the truth is that it’s the same old stuff once I haul it into the light and look at it. It’s fear. It’s doubt. It’s the first message, only in different words. Frankly, I’m a little tired of translation today. But it did get me thinking.

Jami Lula is a favorite singer of mine and he has a song wherein he says that “…my life is a masterpiece…”. And here’s what I think: if our lives are masterpieces—and I believe that they are—then they are surely OUR masterpieces, meaning that we are the artists. Artists who once knew that we created art. Artists who plunged ahead with finger paint or crayons or whatever was to hand without a single thought of what the result might look like to anyone as long as we enjoyed the creating. We squashed the paint between our fingers, and we didn’t hesitate to toss a page and start over if we didn’t like it. But hang out with a bunch of young kids sometime. When they don’t like what they made, most of them don’t give it a second thought. They just start over. They not only don’t think that they’re somehow “bad” for messing it up, they don’t even really formulate the notion that they messed it up. It didn’t turn out. They’ll do it again and they won’t waste a second worrying that the next one might not turn out, either.

I want that back, I really do. I want to make choices for my life and work on goals and dreams without fear or self-judgment—just start painting and love the process. I’m not four anymore, so I can also throw in there that I want it to grow me as a person while I’m at it. But I don’t want to paralyze myself anymore with that nagging little voice that keeps telling me to put my hand down because I’m not really an artist. I’m an artist, damnit. I’m the artist of this particular masterpiece and it’s the most important thing I’ll ever create. I don’t want to keep worrying that other people won’t think I’m painting it right. In the end, if it pleases me, it’s right.

I may or may not make it into nursing school, but it will please me if I work hard at it, learn some things, grow myself. That’s art. I may or may not ever be a registered nurse, but it will please me to return to being a medical assistant if I use that career to touch the lives of my patients and give that care that I and Catherine of Sienna were talking about in an earlier post. The process of painting is so much more than the finished product. Ask any 4-year-old.

You know what else? I want to be this tree:

We’ve had so much wind and rain lately that all the trees in the front yard are denuded but this one hangs on. It’s absurdly yellow in the midst of the stately cedars and pines. It’s scraggly. It doesn’t really seem to know its place. But it’s taking up space and taking up sky and taking up sun with bright abandon. That tree doesn’t have to be right. It just has to grow.

I don’t think I want to know my place, either.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Time and Relativity

Time that it takes for one surgeon and a plethora of nurses to remove a pea-sized cyst from Mr. K’s hand: Approximately ½ sleeve and one practice statistics test (prior to real test).

Time that it takes for one Ms. Knitingale to get from hospital to school so that above-mentioned real test might be taken: more than was available.

Time spent by a post-surgery Mr. K in the student lounge whilst Ms. K frantically whipped through real test so she might take the poor man home: about an hour.

Time it will take for Ms. K to ever be considered for wife of the year: Longer than it will take for the world to stop hating Americans after G. W’s presidency. Truly.

That said, and in my defense, Mr. K didn’t actually have to have general anesthesia, and he was feeling perfectly fine. In fact, when I ran out of class (having torn through the test at lightening speed—or what passes for lightening speed when the words “Ms. K” and “statistics test” are in the same sentence) and located him, he was sitting happily in the lounge reading a book and didn’t even notice me walk up. Hasn’t even needed so much as an aspirin, thank heavens. I’m still thinking I won’t need to clean off the mantel for that “Wife of the Year” trophy, but he’s being very sweet about the whole thing.

Some other meaningful measures:

Time that Mr. K was required to go without food, water, or (and in his world, FAR worse) coffee in case they changed their minds and used a general anesthetic: 10 hours.

Time that Mr. K is capable of going without coffee before his head explodes: Less than that. WAY less than that.

Time that it took Ms. K to purchase coffee once surgery was over and permission given: Mere minutes.

Time that it took Ms. K to purchase coffee, etc. from Mr. K’s perspective: about 12 years, 3 months, and 2 and half days.

Time that Ms. K was required to sit waiting for news of her poor, beleaguered hubby: about 2 hours.

Time that Ms. K is actually capable of being patient when someone she loves is involved: ……..I think that may be an imaginary number.

Time it took hospital staff to hose Mr. K down with Betadine (apparently with a firehose, judging by the finesse with which it was done), thus staining him a lovely shade of jaundice yellow from fingertips to elbow: Mere seconds.

Time it will likely take Mr. K’s skin to return to something that does not resemble a character from The Simpsons: Days, I fear. And possibly longer. He doesn’t mind, though. He kind of likes the looks people get on their faces when he holds out his bright yellow, Simpson-esque hand.

Time it takes hospital designers to select the most ergonomically disastrous chairs possible for the waiting rooms: Unknown, but probably quite a long while, accompanied by an obscene amount of money.

Time that it takes for Ms. K’s back to rise up in protest when sitting in torture chambers cleverly disguised as above-mentioned waiting room chairs: About a quarter of a sleeve.

Time that doctor advised Mr. K to take it easy: One day.

Time that it takes Mr. K to become bored and restless: Another imaginary number…he is prowling like a caged cougar at the moment. But don’t tell him I said that.

You know, I’m going into the medical field (you may have guessed that—I don’t know, I’ve been so secretive about it…..), but I still don’t know where it’s written that waiting rooms must always have magazines that are outdated or are on extremely obscure topics of interest (Why yes—I’ve always wanted to read a copy of “Belly Button Lint Quarterly”), large fish tanks containing large, expensive and dreadfully bored fish, an assortment of pamphlets that are either horrifying, irrelevant, or both (“Bubonic Plague and You—with color photos!”), and at least one person waiting who is reading blissfully and completely unaware of the fact that they have a snot that whistles when they breathe. I’m thinking that there’s a guidebook for this sort of thing somewhere. Perhaps they’ll show it to me in nursing school?

Now that I think about it, the same person who wrote that particular section of the hospital guidebook probably also wrote similar guidelines for the DMV, the Social Security Office, and the offices of the Internal Revenue Service. Bastard. He’s giggling away merrily somewhere, I just know it.

Another handy unit of measure for you:

Time it takes for me to come up here and type this for y’all to read: no more than 20 minutes.
Time it takes for Mr. K to start clattering around alarmingly downstairs: about 19 minutes.
Time it’s going to take for me to vault down the stairs in a panicked fashion to check on his big yellow hand: I’m already there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Assorted Madness

With the newest installment in the story of "the scarf of doom".

I so appreciate all the support regarding what shall from know on be known as “the cinnamon roll debacle”. I still can’t believe I invested that much time in hockey pucks. Worse, I can’t believe that I crave cinnamon rolls enough—even after the way they’ve treated me—to want to try it again. I am, however, not completely nuts (it’s a matter of degrees, I’m fairly certain). This time I’m going to try one of the very kind and gentle suggestions and try frozen bread dough. At least it will feel at home in our house at night, right? Oh, and Lynn—I’m truly loving the idea of cinnamon rolls the size of polar bear paws. After all, I have a polar bear here for comparison, right?

(Mr. K vigorously denies being a polar bear, insisting that he only likes arctic conditions at night while sleeping under a pile of covers. However, I’ve felt his ice cold feet—which he invariably insists are really not cold at all-- when he comes to bed at night after working out in the shop, and I am not fooled.)

In between the ruination of otherwise innocent bread dough (which I’m sure had fantasies about being fragrant, fluffy bread before I got my grubby little mitts on it), there has been knitting. The Samus looks the same only with a second sleeve started—I won’t bore you with yet another photo of “unfinished green sweater”, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on that one. Then there’s the scarf. The dreadful, horrible, scarf that is all the more dreadful and horrible because I love the scarf at least as much as I hate knitting it and so I have to keep going. Take a look at this:

Yep, that’s a small scarf end with a loooooong tube coming off of it. And, try though I might, I simply cannot make it enjoyable to knit an 8 ½ foot tube that is all of 9 stitches around. (While I am, in fact, the rightful queen of hyperbole, in this instance I am telling the truth—each tube is supposed to be 90 inches long.) It’s especially frustrating when knitting in public (as I am wont to do on Mondays and Wednesdays when I have a long break between classes, but not long enough to make it worth going home). That’s when people come up to me in the student lounge to enquire as to what I might be making. And there’s just something about showing someone a 3 foot alpaca/wool tube connected to a rather indifferent looking rectangle of stockinette—something that looks sadly as if it were made by a well-intentioned third grader who had never seen anything knitted in her entire life prior to beginning this project-- that strips a person of her knitting dignity. Instead of holding up a beautiful and partially finished sweater while smiling modestly, I find myself saying things like “well, you see, there will be 5 more tubes like this one and you may not be able to picture it but the tubes will be 8 ½ feet long and I’ll braid them and….” This is the point where there’s a lot of glazed nodding and carefully edging away from the crazy lady with the red yarn. Maybe I need to come up with some other explanation for this project, seeing as how the real one isn’t working and seeing as how I am clearly too stubborn to simply give it up. One of these, perhaps?:

“Oh, it’s a cashmere leash for my pet alligator. He keeps eating the paper boys….little rascal…..” (note here—I’m assuming that the average muggle won’t know cashmere from alpaca…..and for some reason, the alligator in my imagination seemed to need cashmere. But the yarn is really alpaca and wool.)
“The holiday season isn’t nearly stressful enough for me, so I’m knitting a 90 foot red garland to wind around the tree. 10 times.”
“It’s a sock….do you think it looks too narrow? My mom DOES have really skinny legs….”
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve wanted a red, alpaca jumprope. Well, the time is finally here, Baby.”
“My husband said he wanted some new bungee cords for Christmas. And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice and festive to knit him some soft red ones?”
“My pencils keep getting lost in my backpack. I figure if I just stack them end to end in this little sleeve…..”
“I’m giving my husband a new extension cord for Christmas, and this was the best way I could think of to wrap it.”
“My cousin thinks her pet snake has been looking chilly since he shed his skin.”
“It was going to be a bracelet but I can’t remember how to cast off. Now I have to keep going until I run out of yarn."
“My friend asked for a little coat for her wiener dog…..but I may have gotten the proportions a tad bit off.”
“I’m starting a new charity—knitting dredlocks for bald Rastafarians.”
“I’ve been very concerned about the birds getting cold feet when sitting on the power lines outside.”
"It's a purse. Be honest--do you think the handle is too long?"

I found this picture today in the news:

The caption says that the locals do parade the sheep (as well as other animals) through town annually (it’s in Madrid) to protest the urbanization of the city and the consequent loss of farmland. Mr. K thinks they’re actually running away from a herd of knitters just off camera. Which I think is just plain silly. For one thing, sheep love knitters. I'm sure they do. And besides, everyone knows knitters don’t come in herds. We come in skeins. Duh.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sweetened Hockey Pucks

It all started with the cinnamon rolls. I should have known. I should have anticipated that this was not going to go well, by the sheer force of will exerted by these same rolls in the effort not to be made. Remember my saying that I kept putting off making them, couldn’t find the yeast, etc? It gets worse. But you know, I’m a generous soul. Allow me to share this (thankfully) secret family recipe. You never know when you might need a sweetened hockey puck.

We’ll pick this up where we left off—in the grocery store replacing the missing yeast that the house is even now ingesting (I expect at any time to open a cupboard and find fresh bread, mysteriously manufactured by the house while I slept. I’m going to go see if any flour’s missing). I bought the yeast, I trudged back through the rain, drove home. I went into the kitchen in a state of (in retrospect) heartbreaking innocence. That is, I was certain that all would now be well. Which is when I realized I had no eggs. And the recipe called, most definitively, for eggs. No way was I venturing back out into the rain (my hair frizzes in the rain, and I already looked so much like those white puffballs that dandelions turn into, I was more than a little afraid that someone would come up, make a wish, and blow in my face). I found another bread recipe that did not call for eggs. I tested the yeast. I blended the ingredients. So far, so good. Now, for a place to stash it overnight where it will be neither too cold nor too warm.

It is helpful here to note that Mr. Knitingale, unbeknownst to me at the time of our vows, is in fact a polar bear. He’s not white or fuzzy…but I suspect that this is a cunning disguise. He keeps the heat in the house so low during the night that it is not unusual to find the thermostat showing 55 degrees when I get up. Ed, who generally spends most nights outdoors, is usually begging to come in at this point; however, one step inside and he seems to recognize instantly that he has not much improved his lot and heads straight back out. Hence, finding a warm place for the dough was no easy task. I should have heeded Marianne’s sage advice and put it into a warm oven with a damp towel. Did I? Why, no. Of course not. Because for some reason this logic slipped from my mind and I didn’t remember it until later, when eating hockey pucks with the determination of one who cannot admit her own stupidity.

Instead, I placed the bowl of dough on the gas burning stove in the living room. Now wait, hear me out—it’s on a thermostat that my ursine hubby turns down into the 50s before retiring. So it can’t come on and cook the dough, but it has a pilot light that keeps the top quite warm. See? Not totally nuts. Not about the dough, anyway. Well, not at that point.

3:00 am. For some reason, I found myself wide awake. I was puzzled because I’ve actually been sleeping really, really well. I was also mightily pissed off, because I’ve been sleeping really, really well and am not the slightest bit interested in being insomniac again. But I know from experience that pissed off and sleep are poor partners indeed, and that lying in bed tends to promote one—the wrong one---and not the other, so I got up and moved to the living room couch with a blanket and a book. Great. Except I was freezing. Not being from a polar climate myself, I found myself shivering even under the blanket, and I felt certain that this would not be conducive to sleep. Turning up the furnace wasn’t an options—it would heat the whole house and wake up the bear. Who, as it turns out, eschews any warmth whatsoever when sleeping and would probably be doing so in the driveway if it were not for my stellar company. Which, at 3:00 am, was not so stellar. The only possibility then, was the gas stove/fireplace which was, unfortunately, also the only possibility for the dough. What to do? I considered my options—leave the dough where it was and have a burned blob of bread dough gaily scenting the air, or take it anywhere else in the Knitingale Ice Hotel and have it wither away pathetically in the artic breeze. Neither one was particularly tempting. In a fit of genius (you try getting up after 3 hours of sleep and see what strikes you as genius….), I finally placed a pan of water on the stove and balanced the bowl on that. Once it seemed to be warm, I then placed the bowl on the floor in front of the fireplace where it might stay warm without cooking. So clever. I then retired to the couch with my book and spent the next couple of hours alternately reading and hissing urgently at the cats to “get away from that bowl!!” (Don’t worry—it was covered. And it’s not like the dough ended up being anything edible anyway.)

Around 5:00, I got up and punched down the dough (even though it had done absolutely nothing to me…perhaps this explains the rest of what happened) and proceeded to shape it into lovely cinnamon rolls. I placed them in a carefully buttered pan. I covered the pan and placed it lovingly in front of the fireplace. At this point, I was so proud of myself that I had nearly forgiven the universe from rudely kicking me out of bed at o’dark o’clock. An hour later, I examined the rolls (which were supposed to only need another 45 minutes or so). They didn’t actually look very…..well…risen. A few of them looked puffy…but nothing too impressive. Still, in the same way that a knitter can continue knitting a sweater even after it becomes apparent that it could be worn by the Green Bay Packers—all of them, at once—so it was possible for me to actually bake the dreadful things. I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps that the roll fairy (who I now know does not live at the North Pole with us) would come and fix things? All I know for sure is that the time in the oven did absolutely nothing except scent the house beautifully and turn the dough into little hockey pucks. They clunked when I threw them out. I tried eating one (sleep deprivation is a sad thing, people) but began to worry about the tooth I have that is actually a porcelain implant. Somehow, the idea of a mouthful of fractured porcelain did nothing to improve either my spirits or my day. The rolls went.

Which is when hubby woke up and said cheerfully “Oh, it smells so good, Honey. What did you make?”

Poor polar bear. He never knew what hit him.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

There Must Be A Sale on Crazy

Try though I might, I cannot convince all of my brain cells to work as one cohesive unit this evening (some sort of turf war, I imagine) so I will have to offer my thoughts in a somewhat jumbled manner. You may want to try reading it all mixed up….see if that helps.

1. Mr. K and I went out to lunch today and then out to buy new cell phones and renew our cell contract. Since we chose not to have a landline, this was a bit pressing. Now, I tend to think that a store that sells cell phones should probably be efficient at it. This idea, however, may be a fanciful one. It took over an hour and a half, fully an hour of which took place AFTER we chose the phones. I’m not sure what Mr. Serious Hair Gel salesman was doing back there….maybe making another hair gel run. It seemed obvious once I looked around that there was a minimum allowed level of hair gel for all sales people. If you’ve seen the movie “Office Space”, you’ll know what I mean when I say that for these salesfolk, hair gel is apparently a form of personal flair.
2. I am apparently quite old. I cannot understand why I would want or need my telephone to do anything other than allow me to make calls, and to ring when someone calls me. Our new phones can take pictures (Mr. K took a very handsome shot of the dashboard on the way home), calculate tips, tell me the time in any country, convert measures, download music……I’m not totally sure it actually makes phone calls, although I do hope so. I would not be surprised to go in next time and have them ask me if I want it toploading or frontloading because they do laundry now.
3. There are some cinnamon rolls that do not, apparently, wish to be made. I was going to make them last week when I started craving them desperately, like a beached fish, if the ocean was spiked with cinnamon and frosting……(once again, I cannot be trusted with a metaphor). However, a catering emergency put those plans on the back burner—the barbecue place and my hubby miscommunicated and they did not give us the planned cornbread. I was already making assorted cookies and stuff, so I gave up the cinnamon rolls in order to make the cornbread. So I was going to make them last night (make the dough last night, make the rolls this morning). But I had a bit of a headache so I decided to make them tonight. Which was when I discovered that I had no yeast. (I know that I do….but the house has mysteriously eaten it. There can be no other explanation for this. Unless there’s a black hole in the pantry, which you can be sure I'll investigate.). So I trudged back out to the store in the rain, located the yeast, stood in line for about 12 years behind some guy who was apparently writing his check with single drops of ink carried by hand one at a time from Timbuktu, and it was then that I noticed this sign: “20% off wine when you buy 6 or more bottles.” Yeah, yeah—holiday entertaining, I guess. I’m not really all that social and, when I am, I rarely mark the occasion with six bottles of discount, grocery store wine. Call me crazy.
4. Speaking of crazy, I read in the paper that a man in England decided to celebrate Guy Fawkes night by inserting a firecracker….uh….in a place better used for sitting, shall we say, and LIGHTING it. He suffered fairly impressive burns and internal injuries. I suspect that a 20% discount on bulk purchases of alcohol could be in some way related to this. That said, and with all due apologies for being crude, just how much alcohol would you have to ingest before sticking a firecracker up your ass and lighting it would seem like a good idea? I’m not a drinker, I admit, but I have to say that I have not consumed that much alcohol so far in my entire lifetime, and really don’t expect to. I’ve tried and tried….but I cannot picture any circumstances wherein I would be holding a firecracker, dropping my pants, and saying “Hey, you know what would be fun…..?” And what about this guy’s friends? ‘Cause, you just know that there was a whole bunch of assorted testosterone in the room that day. And you know there was discussion. You just KNOW there was. Half the fun for young 20-something inebriates is discussing the stupid ideas at length before doing them. But it never occurred to any of them that firecracker + fire + ass might possibly equal something kind of….not so good? I can almost hear the slurred conversation:

First mental giant: “Wait, wait…..something…….firecracker….ass… .maybe….uh….”
Second mental giant: “What is it, Bob? What’s wrong?”
First mental giant: “Uh…huh. Can’t remember…probably nothing. Go ahead—light him up.”

I’m baffled people. Maybe I’ll go consult my new phone. It knows everything.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Oh, look--animals in twos.....

We’ve gotten a bit of rain up here in Washington lately… may have heard. Sheets of rain, buckets of rain, drizzles of rain, rain with wind, rain with big, splatty drops, rain, rain, RAIN. There are some people nearby whom I know have sheep and I haven’t driven by there recently, but I wonder if they’ve felted……..all the rain, you know. I guess they’d probably need a bit of agitation. Maybe I’ll go over and tell sheep jokes, try to agitate them a bit…see if they felt.

Not that I’m in a seriously goofy mood, or anything. It’s just that there’s no school today and I did all my errands this morning—exciting stuff like torture (they call it physical therapy, but they’re not fooling me), getting the oil changed in the car, picking up some more shave gel (because Mr. K apparently doesn’t want to go to bed with Sasquatch—go figure). Truly, my life is a glittering whirl. So, since this morning, I’ve had the whole afternoon to knit and be and cuddle kitties which is very wonderful but it’s hard, in this kind of endless spate of ark-building weather, not to feel a bit housebound and not to let the mind roam. Like to felted sheep. And to other, equally whacko things, like:

Would it be bad to have Mr. K hide M&M’s all over the house in the hope that it might make housework seem more appealing? ‘Cause, really, a better woman than I would have used the time today to scrub out the window tracks with a toothbrush or something. Martha would have.

Well….no. Martha would have paid someone to do it. But they’d have been squeaky clean window tracks. Actually, I’ve heard she isn’t the most pleasant person to work with…so, she should probably take steps to make sure it isn’t her toothbrush winnowing the nastiness out of the window tracks, regardless of which flunky she gets to do it.

Kind of makes you wonder what kind of “home and living” sort of magazine I might come up with, doesn’t it? (Just nod and smile…I’ll never know if you’re secretly balancing your checkbook and saying “mm-hmm” a lot.) Here are some working ideas for articles:

“How sliding across the hardwood in your socks can lengthen the time between moppings!” (don’t panic—I wouldn’t do it in handknit socks! But, if Mr. K ever asks you if you know why his sweatsocks wear out so fast, you never heard a thing.)
“Take your floor sweepings to your carpet store to match—and never have to vacuum again!”
“Why waste time washing windows? You know what the yard looks like, don’t you?”
“Dust is nature’s way of saying that everything looks better in gray.”
“Call your dryer ‘the cylindrical bureau’ and you’ll wonder why you ever folded anything!”
“If they can make wrinkles stylish in broomstick skirts, why can’t we also have broomstick shirts, broomstick t-shirts, broom-stick blouses—the possibilities are limited only by your own personal laziness.” (An aside here—I once knew a woman who ironed sheets, towels, underwear, and pajamas. And she was a working mother with two kids. I haven’t seen her in years, but I often wonder if she started raiding the goodwill box for things to iron once the kids left for college. And how they escaped being ironed.)
“Carpet lint or cheap insulation? The answer is all in your point of view.”
“How to train your pets to get on the bed the minute you get out, and assume such adorable poses that no one could possibly to expect you to disturb them by making the bed.” (tricky, but doable. Just deny it if your spouse starts complaining of the bed smelling vaguely of cat treats.)
“Wrinkled clothes can make your face look less wrinkled by comparison. It’s an instant face-lift!”
“Self-cleaning toilets—and invention we need RIGHT NOW.”
“Clean closets? Why? Are you seating guests in there?”
“They say that an organized mind is an efficient mind. I say that an organized mind is one that should be taught to knit.”

Yeah, I don’t think Martha will be knocking down my door any time soon.

In addition to all of this profound thought, I am nearly done with the first sleeve of Samus. I may have made it too long, in which case you’ll know because you’ll hear my screaming all around the world and quite possibly all the way up in the space station. It’s a set-in sleeve, of course, so shortening it will require frogging all the way back to before the shaping of the sleeve cap. Which would result in yet another article: “How to grow your arms quickly in case of knitting emergency.” I’m crossing my fingers. It looks long…but it might be okay. And if it isn’t….well, my hands do get cold really easily…..

I also caved and started knitting the braided scarf out of suri merino. If you’ve seen the pattern (and happen to have special, "anti blur" vision) you’ll notice I changed it a bit (largely because I am apparently constitutionally unable to just knit or bake anything the way I’m told to). Instead of a garter stitch end, I used a toe-up-sock-type cast on so that the thing would be joined and not an open tube; then I could work it in stockinette, which I like better. I’ll probably kirchner the other end.

It’s so soft I can hardly stand it. The knitting will be somewhat slowed by the near constant need to pet it. I had to pick up some size 6 DPN’s for it and Joann’s was right next door to the Jiffy Lube…..and a bunch of their yarns were on sale…..and…well, clearly I cannot be blamed for this:

Weird, isn’t it? It’s mostly wool with a bit of nylon for softness. It’s much chunkier than I would normally ever knit with…but I love the colors. Scarf? Vest? Really chunky shawl? Little booties for the cats so they can sweep and polish as they walk around the house? Notice poor Ed here, hiding his feet from the madwoman:

Or, hey—I could make them full-body sweaters and then give them catnip and they’d clean the floor twice as fast by rolling around on it….

See what I mean? It really needs to stop raining. I need so little encouragement towards full-on whackjob.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Mr. K and I live far enough up and away from the city that we often get deer in the yard. Little juvenile delinquents, the former owner called them, because they ate her flowers and her vegetables and pretty much anything else she tried to grow. I, of course, am so charmed by them that they could probably eat the siding right off the house and I wouldn’t object. I love it when they rise up on their haunches to nibble the apples off the tree and am thrilled when they play in the backyard like frisky colts. Which was why I was so delighted when two of them turned up this morning.

It was Mr. K who spotted them first. I hadn’t even seen them because they were so still. They were actually curled up in the back yard, dozing off and on in the meager shelter the trees provide from the relentless rain. There was something so astounding, so vulnerable and fragile and about them curled up peacefully like I never get to see them, and, right there in the back yard. I ran for the camera. I wanted to show you, and I wanted to capture the moment to look at again. But this is what the camera saw, even with telephoto:

The brown blur in the middle is one of the deer. So I sat down at the window and watched them, and I got to thinking: have you ever thought that maybe there are things we’re not meant to view in retrospect, but rather, in the here and the now only? Things that are gifted to us in this moment, this breath of time with the intention that we will stop, watch, experience and then carry only the memory away? I thought I would love a photo but, in truth, I don’t think a photo would have captured the morning I spent gazing out at the rain dappled yard, watching the deer sleeping and waking, their ears swiveling to catch the slightest sounds. There was a frog singing, and a squirrel chattering angrily, and the gentle rhythm of the rain slipping through the leaves. I watched so long that I noticed the way the rain stippled their winter coats, and the way they twitched their noses towards the house every so often. I saw them look at me, seeming to lock eyes with me through the window and, apparently deciding I was okay, return to cropping bits of grass to chew over and over.

I think if I could have taken a decent picture I would have, and then I might have looked a minute more and gone on about my day. But instead, I sat and soaked up the whole thing, trying to put as much of it in my memory as I could. And I can’t help but think that might have been the point.

We live life so fast these days. We carry music with us so we don’t have to take the time to just sit and listen to it, and so we miss the places it might have taken us. We e-mail a friend because it’s quick and we don’t risk getting into a conversation that might become lengthy, so we miss the sound of her voice and the nuances of expression that might tell us how she’s really feeling or what she really needs to say or hear. We drive everywhere so we don’t have to walk and so we see the shifts in the seasons only peripherally and only when they’re at their most dramatic—we see the bright orange autumn foliage, but we miss the first tinge of color creeping into the edges of the leaves, and the first one slipping away to the ground.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Stop and smell the roses (or watch the deer) isn’t a new concept. But it hit me hard today how much stuff I save for later. I’ll listen to it later, I’ll talk to her later, I’ll do that another time. I’m pretty sure I won’t get to trade in all those ignored moments for anything special when I get to the end of my life.

Y’all know our cat Ed, the really beautiful tabby I’ve shown you pictures of? He’s an outdoor cat because he was Mr. K’s and he always kept his kitties outside. But he (Ed, not Mr. K) has been coming in more and more lately, and is very definite about wanting time with me. And not just any time. He likes sitting on my lap, but he often craves being held. You read right—he actually wants me to hold him. At those times he will try to get higher on my body, curl himself up against my chest. If I don’t respond quickly, he’ll start shoving at my hands and arms with his big head—see, I’m supposed to wrap my arms around him so he can nestle his nose into my elbow, and then I’m supposed to pet him with one hand. I’m so often knitting when I sit down that it’s rare I really take more than a minute or two to do that for him before I ease him onto my lap and pick up the knitting--but I did today. I set aside my knitting, and I held Ed. He purred, I petted, and we just were. For a change, I wasn’t doing anything—I was just being.

I wanna do that more. Be enough. Be at peace. Just be. I don’t do enough of it. Too busy trying to become, I guess. But I think we can become and still remember to breathe and watch the deer or listen to the song or hold Ed. I think we need to. Not because something bad will happen if we don’t, but because nothing will happen. It will just slide by like an unopened birthday gift, swept away after the party with the wrappings and the old balloons and never even missed.

It’s taken me some time to type this. Gussie is in my lap and instead of absently petting her when I'm not typing, I’ve been snuggling her each time she “talks” in her funny meezer voice. This definitely slows the process. But she’s purring and I’m enjoying noticing all the little sounds she makes when she’s happy. I’m pretty sure she just said to tell you all “Hi”. And she might have said “don’t forget to tell them to pet their cats.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An Unfortunate Experience

Because I am a lunatic, I exercise for an hour every day. Even holidays. I would love to say that I do it for some high-minded reason, such as improving/maintaining cardiac health, keeping my cholesterol down, doing something wonderful about my free radicals, whatever. But the truth is this: I am 41 years old. While I know it to be a losing battle, I am nonetheless engaged in a bitter battle with time over possession of my boobs, butt, and waistline. Time is pretty adamant that my butt should be the size of a barn, my boobs should be going south for the winter of my life (way south…as in, I’ll need larger shoes to accommodate them if this keeps up), and my waistline should be a fond memory, like new crayons on the first day of school (which, coincidentally, was the last time my tummy was flat). While I understand that this is inevitable, that my boobs and my butt and my waistline are only humoring me at this point, trying to keep me from feeling too badly before they start defecting to points unknown (except the butt, which is staying put and inviting friends. Lots of friends.), I can’t keep myself from this little game wherein I sweat vigorously for an hour a day and pretend that time is graciously conceding instead of biding its time. Hence, the reason for this room:

A few pieces of equipment, some weights, some resistance bands…..and, out of the frame (because I like to pretend that I’m way cool and would never do something as plebian as watch TV….heh, I so crack myself up), a TV, DVD, and VCR. I’m obsessive—I’m not nuts. There aren’t many things I can do for a whole hour without some distraction and, if there were, exercise still wouldn’t make the list.

Another thing I do is unravel thrift store sweaters in a shameless attempt to get tons of great yarn for practically nothing (other than some frustration, a huge amount of profanity, a couple of scissor wounds and, depending on the sweater, my determination to never abuse substances of any kind. I could get into a serious chocolate bender over some of these sweaters). And I’ve learned that I can unravel sweaters on the exercise bike, the elliptical, and the stair stepper. I’m not just double tasking now—I’m TRIPLE tasking! And if hubby walks in, I can even quadruple task (although I fear that it gives my brain frown lines).

Now, you can take a sweater apart by patiently unthreading the seams after making one neat snip….or you can just snip the stitches all the way up the seam and have at it. Guess which one I do? Yep, rip that sucker right apart. Which is fine as it goes but has one little flaw: the little bits of yarn, the little cut off-seam remnants, stay stuck in the ends of the rows and then, when the sweater is being unraveled, these bits go flying every time I get to one (when I’m lucky and they don’t viciously create Gordian knots for the purpose of creating more brain frowns). I try to keep track of them, but the truth is that I have to vacuum in there at least three times per week to avoid having a loosely woven, multi-colored throw rug made of wooly confetti.

Where, you may ask, am I going with this? I’m glad you asked. I most recently have been unraveling a black cardigan made from a sinfully soft cashmere blend. It is heavenly and, for a change, it is a fairly easy unravel. So I went like the wind, happily yanking on the yarn and watching the bits fly. It was a bit like exercising in the middle of a snowglobe…..near a coal mine.

I didn’t try too hard to grab all the bits, so happy was I with the prospect of all this lovely yarn. But this morning, when I walked into the exercise room for the daily bout of (torture) invigorating exercise, I decided it looked dreadful and got down on my knees to start picking up the biggest ones by hand. There were a lot of biggest ones. Which leads me to two questions:

1. Did you know that a black spider can cleverly disguise itself as a piece of cashmere blend yarn fluff in a whole field of such fluffs? (I rather wish that I had.)
2. Does anyone know of an easy recipe for getting thoroughly smushed, pulverized, and generally ground-to-paste spider off of an ivory carpet? It’s pretty ground in….there was a 10-pound hand weight involved. There might have been a bit of overkill, too.

On another note, I wanted to thank Angie from the bottom of my heart for the so-kind comments. (She said she thinks I could write a book…..excuse me for a minute, though, because my head is becoming so large that it’s rubbing on the walls of the office). I would LOVE to write a book. Sadly, I am not talented with fiction, so it would have to be something non-fiction. If thinking about it is the first step, then I have an entire set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in first steps….but still no book. I’m working on the idea, though, and I do thank you so much for the vote of confidence. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside! (And no, I did not eat my angora and lambswool sweater.)

Oh, and Charity asked about knitting Samus. The bands are a really enjoyable knit; the rest of the sweater is stockinette so pretty repetitious. I’ve not been minding too much, though. I’m working on several other things that require concentration so I kind of like having something mindless to do. In general, I’m really glad I decided to make it. I can’t wait to see what you decide to make.

I think I hit a nerve with my comments about Martha Stewart….I’m SO glad it isn’t just me! Some of you made me laugh so hard that I would have snorted milk out my nose if I’d been drinking it.

And my dear friend, Marianne, always has some wonderful things to say and I’m so grateful for it. Marianne, you know where you are…….right here in my heart.

I think there are more comments I was going to respond to, but I think the frown lines are starting to get in the way of brain function, because I can’t for the life of me remember.And yet, I remember every word of the theme song they used for the Road Runner cartoons when I was a kid. So good to know my long term memory is being put to good use.