The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Sunday, December 31, 2006


1. Do your best.
2. Try not to hurt anyone.

Those are my resolutions. They’re the same ones I have every year—not because I fail every year, but because they’re the kind of resolutions that grow and change and I can always get better at them. They’re not so black and white that I’m tempted to throw in the towel in six weeks, and they’re not rooted in the belief that something about me needs to be fixed. They’re more about making the journey—this journey we’re all making—a little bit better. I know they don’t seem like much next to the lofty goals of some people to “lose 25 pounds” or “stop eating junk food” or whatever….but it’s all in the interpretation.

See, I think that we’re all here for a reason—probably many reasons. Usually I think we’re here to learn something, to teach something, to save someone, to be saved by someone, to love someone, to be loved by someone. Probably several combinations of those things. And I don’t think we get to know in advance. I don’t think anyone announces that “this person up the street—she’s someone you’re supposed to learn something from, so get ready.” I think these things come to us as opportunities, dressed in all kinds of ways. If you miss it, you miss it—and you’ll probably never know that you did, which is all the more reason to pay attention.

Okay, if you happen past a burning building and you run in and rescue an infant, then it’s pretty obvious that you had the opportunity to save someone and you took it. But it isn’t always that obvious. In fact, I think it’s almost never that obvious. Consider this: imagine that you’re at the grocery store. Imagine that you’re in a hurry and the cashier is slow. She seems to be taking her own sweet time and the minutes are ticking by. By the time you get to her, you’re already late, you’re frustrated, and she hasn’t sped up one bit. It’s tempting at that moment to be short with her, to snap “I’m in a hurry!”, or something less polite. But what if instead of doing that, you consider that there is something to be done here—learned or taught or saved or helped or whatever? And what if you stop to think that maybe, just maybe, she’s slow because she’s tired? What if she was up all night with a sick baby? What if she’s still half crazy with worry but she can’t afford to stay home? What if that were you? And what if, instead of snapping at her, you smile and tell her you hope things slow down a bit for her? Or even mention that she seems tired and ask if she’s okay? You’ll never know the impact of that kindness. Maybe it won’t matter. But it might. Maybe that little bit of support will give her the boost she needs to push through until she can get home. Maybe that bit of human kindness is the only one she’ll get all day. It’s not saving a life….but it might just save a human spirit for a minute or an hour or a day. That feels important to me.

That’s what I mean about “doing your best” and “not hurting anyone”. I mean, being present, paying attention to those souls who share the planet with you, taking every opportunity you can see for learning and teaching and growing and loving and saving. I mean living every second in conscious mode instead of on autopilot. I mean trying not to miss anything that might grow you, feed you, nurture your soul—because lifting up someone else always lifts you up, too. It just works that way.

So yes, those are my resolutions. To do my best, and try not to hurt anyone. And because I’m human, I’ll mess it up. I’ll get impatient and I’ll get tired and I’ll miss at least as many things as I catch. But not hurting anyone includes me, so I’ll forgive myself that. The beauty of this pair of resolutions is that falling off the wagon is nothing more than a missed opportunity—and that the opportunities are as plentiful as my willingness to be open to them.

Listen, I heard someone say the other day that the essence of life is that it can go away at any time. I agree with that, so I don’t want to waste a second of it beating myself up over my less-than-perfect thighs or forcing myself to eat foods I hate or whatever else passes for positive growth this time of year. I want, instead, to use every second I can to learn and teach and save and be saved and love and be loved. I think that’s what I’m here for. If I had to put it into the form that resolutions usually take, I’d say this:

In 2007 I resolve to listen more closely, see more completely, take more time, love more utterly, open my heart more fully. I resolve to learn all I can, give all I can, accept all I can (receiving is as important as giving—it’s a gift to allow another person to give to you), and to think of every soul I encounter as the precious thing it is. Including my own.

A very happy and safe New Year to you and yours. Remember how utterly precious you are.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Some people's New Year's Eve preparations involve things like party food, party dresses, the purchase of champagne, decorating with streamers and noisemakers. I am not some people. Tomorrow is my last day of yarn-purchasing freedom. I am a woman with a mission. Some guidelines and suggestions for any other brave souls who, like me, are embarking on months of deprivation.

1. Wear comfortable shoes tomorrow. This seems obvious, but it's good to remember. After all, if you wear the ones with the heels and step on someone's foot, you'll lose valuable shopping time stopping to make sure they're okay. Soft shoes, people. Slippers, if you can get away with it.
2. Hide your stash before leaving home. Or as much of it as is possible. Nothing ruins a good stash hunt quicker than a spouse wondering aloud if you really need any more yarn. If the thought of hiding it is rather like trying to hide Mt. Rainier, just try camoflaging it a bit. "No, Honey, we've always had that extra bed in the guest room....and it's always been kind of lumpy...why?"
3. Remove all non essentials from your car. You probably need the spare tire and a jack. But a map? Come on. If you can't already find the LYS in your sleep, you have no excuse whatsoever for going on a yarn diet. You'll starve for goodness sake! And you don't need an extra coat or anything....what's warmer than a carful of wool?
4. Forget dressing in layers. If you're carrying your jacket in the warm store, that's valuable yarn space completely wasted. Dress lightly. If you get cold, hug the yarn (don't pretend you don't do that anyway).
5. If you have the LYS memorized (and again, if you don't, what in the world are you doing cutting back on YARN?), it's good to go in with a battle plan. Personally, I'm going straight for the alpaca because everyone knows I'm a big old alpaca whore and I'd have a whole (herd? flock? pack? skein?) of them given half a chance. But work to your own preferences.
6. Pace yourself. Start early and take plenty of time. Working too quickly can result in a bad state of "shopper in the headlights". Sadly, I've fallen prey to this more than once. If you've ever left a yarn store empty armed after falling in love with a dozen things, then you have, too. Just keep repeating to yourself: "Six (or nine, or whatever) month wool desert. Wool, wool, everywhere and not a shred to knit." Or whatever works for you.
7. Be sure to stretch. The last thing you want is to have a perfectly good wool binge cut tragically short by reaching up to a high shelf and pulling a muscle. Shop safe, shop smart.
8. Don't wear anything you've knit. Any other day, absolutely. But you have less than 24 hours to prepare for total wool abstinence. Do you want to spend even one minute of it explaining how you altered or designed the pattern for your sweater? I thought not.
9. Fast calculations can be your friend. Get another knitter to quiz you (or your spouse, if you absolutely don't mind getting that look) with things like "Okay, it's 70% alpaca, 30% wool, DK, needle size six, 98 yards to a ball. How many balls do you need to buy for the cover sweater on the newest Interweave Knits?" or "What colors will your mom absolutely not wear even if you knit them up for her?" You'll want to be able to answer in under 10 seconds for maximum stash enhancement.
10. You'll want energy. A pocket or purse full of snacks is a must. But don't do what I did when I was trying for healthier snacks and forgot to buy sandwich bags. Linty raisins can really take the edge of a lovely yarn feeding frenzy.
11. An itemized list of what you already have is unnecessary. It's yarn. Trust me--it's good.

Good luck to you out there. If I see you, don't be offended if I just nod briskly. Can't talk--yarn binging.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Cannot Bear to Look

I knit my way down to the ankle on the Pretty Petals sock. I admired it in a way that quite possibly smacked of hubris. I can admit this now. I tucked it away and went to bed, confident that today would find me finishing the first sock and moving happily on to the next. No SSS for m, no siree Bob (does anyone know who this “Bob” character might be? Anyone? Well, never mind.). But you know, I got to looking at it….and…..

You see, the pattern is one of several given to me by a dear friend and all written by the same person (whose name escapes me, but I’m just too dreadfully lazy to shift the cat off my lap and go downstairs to look. Which is pathetic, I know, but there it is.). In another of these patterns, the designer suggests using “size 1 or 2 needles.” Apparently you get to choose. But the Pretty Petals pattern (say that 3 times fast) just says to use the 1’s. Which I did. In spite of my observation that 64 stitches on size 1 needles seemed a tad….small, and given that the recently deceased Pomotamus socks were something like 72 stitches on size 2’s (have I mentioned my belief that we knitters are, as a group, sometimes fatally optimistic?) I reasoned that the designer would probably know and it would be just fine and…..well. It looked smallish in the cold light of day. So I wrote to my dear friend to tell her what I’d done and to ask her what SHE’D done. She read my note, had a small heart attack on my behalf, and promptly reached for the telephone to tell me “2’s, Sweetie. I used 2’s.”

Well….crudmuffins. (I’m trying to clean up my language in honor of the new year. This should work out fine, provided the year doesn’t last more than a few days. And provided I don’t knit.)

I pondered this new information. Then I decided that I simply couldn’t bear to look at the possibly doomed sock in progress. Nope. Not today. I want to go another 12 hours believing that the knitting gods love me, the sock is perfect, and there are faeries in the garden. (That last part could be negotiated. I’m a somewhat reasonable woman.) So I sat down on the couch with a little cotton cardigan pattern and spent over half an hour casting on. This is not a level of snaildom that is easily accomplished, I’ll have you know. Nay, you have to be using an unusually splitty cotton yarn that insists on falling hysterically apart at the merest mention of the phrase “knitting needle” but that nevertheless is so lovely that Knitters Optimism can once again overtake reason (and choke the everloving……doody out of it. So far so good on the language thing, eh?). I tried for some time before admitting defeat. Then I went upstairs, dug deeply into my stash and selected a lovely emerald green cotton. And sat down again to cast on, happily picturing possibly button choices, possible button band stitches. This is probably what ticked off the knitting gods. They hate it when I have hope. Oh, it cast on just fine, don’t get me wrong (you KNOW the gods are too creative to throw the same doody at me twice, don’t you?) and it even knit up into three rows just fine. Which is when I held it up….and realized that in order to have hips that would fill out the bright green bottom band of the sweater, I would also have to be the proud owner of a saddle and a bridle, and answer to “Flicka”. Or “Mister Ed”. Whatever. It was freaking huge.

Now I am seated upstairs avoiding all things cotton, woolen, or remotely pointy. It is my considered opinion that the good knitting fortune of the world is probably significantly higher tonight by the mere act of my abstaining from attempting to knit. If you’re currently working on a complicated lace pattern, you’re welcome.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Sorry, had to do it. I couldn't resist the urge to confuse whatever young, horny men might be tooling around the internet. There are times when I question my own maturity. But then I think "Nanny-nanny boo boo" and get on with it. (No, not nanny-nanny, boob-boob...but that would be pretty funny, too, wouldn't it?)

I think it was Phyllis Diller who made the comment that she once went to pick up her bra on the floor but realized as she bent down that her boobs were still in it. I'm not quite to point yet (although I can see it on the horizon...low on the horizon)...but I've definitely learned a lesson about keeping the girls locked and loaded. I was so distressed about the noro yesterday--it just didn't look right at all and I had my "might as well feed my yarn to the worms" moment because I couldn't believe I'd spent all that time knitting something that looked--to me, anyway--quite dreadful. Well, okay, yes--I COULD believe it, which is why I was so distraught. But I think I've mentioned my enviable collection of vintage bras, inherited from my mother on a recent trip, all of them incapable of giving even moral support, much less boobie support. I was wearing one of those gems yesterday and, when I really studied the photos, it finally dawned on me that no, the girls were definitely not located where I thought they ought to be--and, in fact, where I had thought they WERE. (Funnily enough, I rarely stare at my own chest.) So today I put on a bra that I purchased myself, in the right size and possessed of enough elastic and resiliancy to actually hold something up and then tried the sweater again. Le Voila--I LOVE the sweater.

Which led me to do two things. 1) I wore the sweater out while running errands and actually got a few compliments (and it is a sad statement about my own neurotic state that my first thought was "Gee...does it look homemade or something....?" I'm a dork, yes indeedy.) and 2) I gathered up all the old, sad, bra-ish things that my mother gave me and deposited them unceremoniously in the garbage can. There are about 14 or 15 of them; God alone knows that the garbage man will think we get up to around here. ("Were they cleaning up after some kind of kinky party? Getting rid of a collection of incriminating contraband? What??")

It is at least a little sad to realize that the girls can no longer hold their own. Oh, I know that being over 40 isn't so bad and I'm mostly enjoying it to no end. But no one ever told me the breathtaking speed at which the body can surrender to gravity (one might almost suspect a pact with the enemy). I mean, I went to bed one night with boobs that, if not perky, were at least able to enjoy scenery other than my shoes. The next morning, I had to look in my socks for them. And I was wearing the socks. I think they (we're back at the boobs here) just waited for me to fall asleep and then made a run for the border. Huh....I wonder if THAT'S why my grandma used to sleep in a bra....kind of corrall the suckers before they can make a getaway.

I read somewhere that the first bra was invented by a French woman who fashioned it out of two hankies. Clearly I was not related to this woman. Nature has been generous to us: any woman in my family who could hold up even one of the girls with two hankies was probably really a man with a bad case of wishful thinking.

Enough about my boobs, though. (My Dad occasionally reads my blog and I just know that he's clutching his eyes and shouting "She just wrote like a PAGE about her boobs!! My eyes! My eyes! Someone wash them out!" Or some such thing. ) The good news is that I love the sweater and no longer have to sit in the yard and feed my stash to the worms. Thankfully. I wouldn't want to be responsible for the choking of a yardful of worms and thus starving the birds. (I'm conveniently forgetting here that being part owner of Ed already makes me responsible for a certain drop in the bird well as the mole population, the shrew population, and the vole population. And a few bats are pretty nervous.)

I haven't yet started another sweater, but I did face the truth that I am more likely to get perky boobs again that actually finish the Pomotamus socks, (love 'em, hate the pattern....I know it's awesome and it's just my own mental block...but I still quarantined the yarn so its bad attitude wouldn't infect the rest of the stash) and I started these:

Pretty Petals worked in Mountain Colors Bear Foot Huckleberry, really crappy picture (sadly, the best of about twelve. I'm not real great on either side of a camera, as it happens). I love these already. And my bra will make absolutely no difference to how they look.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Okay, Jill, I gotta ask. A SEX trip? I know what I would mean if I said I was going on such a trip but, given that you mentioned it in connection to yarn, I can’t help but think we may be talking about two somewhat different things. I’m begging you to give me more details. I won’t sleep for thinking about it, I swear I won’t.

Sorry—had to get that out. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Pictures. If the most talented photographer in the entire world were given the most expensive and best camera available with 874 rolls of film, and me as the subject, he or she would likely turn out about one good photo—and that would be the one of his thumb. I don’t know what it is. If I have food in my mouth for 2.3 seconds out of a 5 hour evening, I can guarantee that 10 photos will be taken in that moment. If I squint, sneeze, blink, stare unattractively, whatever, it will be recorded for posterity by at least half a dozen people. If I look down, I will have a double or triple chin. If I look up, the entire world will be able to see right up my nose.

Lest you think I’m simply fishing for compliments, I can assure that I’m not. I used to model when I was much younger (MUCH younger) and I only did runway work—because the photographers all said I wasn’t photogenic. Not only does the camera not love me, it has a serious hate on for me. One wonders if I maliciously pulled the innards out of a camera once as a child. Or something.

All of which is the build up to the photos of the finished noro sweater.
Mr. K took about 25 photos to get a couple which I find only moderately embarrassing. But he did make me laugh, which is worth points.

I’m not allowed to tell you what he did to accomplish this feat (cameras also tend to make me somewhat depressed after the eleventh shockingly unflattering photo) but it did the trick.

I’m happy with the stripe placement, and I like the stitch pattern. I think the whole thing is a tad unflattering, though….a bit too bulky, maybe? Or maybe it’s just that it makes me look like I have striped bowling balls for boobs (I swear they’re not really that big). I should try it with a better bra (you know, the good ones that you keep in the back of the drawer for some unknown reason while continuing to wear the old soft ones that only barely manage to keep the whole business from accidentally getting zipped into your jeans….no? It’s just me? Huh.). Probably though, what I should really do is look at it when I’m not depressed about looking only slightly better in photographs than a flattened possum (it’s a Northwest thing….they cross the road to mate but are so hot and bothered by the prospect of a little marsupial booty call that they don’t watch for cars….and end up looking slightly less attractive than I do in photos.) In any case, I still love the colors and it’s quite nicely warm—not a bit itchy, although I feared it might be once I felt the yarn, so perhaps I’d best reserve judgment. I know it’s a bad time to decide such things when I find myself thinking things like “Why do I even try to knit if I’m going to make stuff like this? Perhaps I should sit in the yard and feed my yarn to the worms.” Y’all know.

Hey, I just went and looked in the mirror and realized that if I stand at a certain angle, it’s really quite flattering. Think anyone will notice if I walk sort of half sideways everywhere for a day? Yeah, yeah. It’s probably just fine. It’s probably me and my cameraphobia and the whole world looking dark because I can't take a good photo. (In case you were thinking how dreadfully shallow it is to be so concerned with one's appearance in pictures, I already thought about that. Now I feel bad about that, too.)

Right back on the horse, that’s the ticket (the knitting horse, not the camera horse. Please, GOD not the camera horse). I was thinking I should really not start anything new until I’ve finished my teal shawl and my pomotamus socks. I was also thinking I should not eat chocolate and should focus instead on eating fresh veggie sticks and salads without dressing.

Yeah, I laughed, too. Then I laid down until I felt better—clearly, I had not been entirely well.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On Dieting

Rabbitch is going on a stash diet, brave little lapin that she is. And, given that I adore Rabbitch’s blog and, further, given that I suspect I would be quite fond of Rabbitch herself were I ever to meet her (which leads one to want to support her efforts) and (perhaps more to the point) given that I could start knitting today and produce a slipcover for New Jersey without purchasing any supplies whatsoever (except chocolate and gummi bears), it is my decision to follow her into the yarnless void by doing the same. (Yes, I’m shaking a bit as I write this….don’t worry. I’ll go stick my head in the stash closet and inhale some wool fumes when I’m done here…I’ll be fine.)

Rabbitch proposes to be on this diet for 9 months and, while I admire this show of self control, I am nothing if not a realist. I will be on my own stash diet from January 1, 2007 until June 17, 2007. ( June 17 is my 42nd birthday, for those who are wondering, and I feel certain that I will need to self-medicate on that day with as much wool as possible. And alpaca. And llama. And maybe sparkly little stitch markers.) It should be noted that I am exercising great courage in actually TELLING you the correct date. I was quite tempted to just say I was going on the wool wagon and then, once fallen from it, claim earnestly that the fast just happened to be over. However, you seem to be an intelligent bunch, unlikely to believe that I would go to all this trouble for what would, in such circumstances, become a one day fast…so I figured I’d better tell the truth. At least I’ll have lots of people to point and laugh when I fall off the wagon.

During this time of great self-denial, I will forbid myself the purchase of any sock yarn whatsoever. This is really quite logical, given that the amount of sock yarn currently languishing in my stash would only make sense if I had 12 sockless children or was married to a centipede (neither of these are true…but the centipede thing sometimes seems as if it might be, given the 47,024 Mr. K shoes lurking in the entryway, waiting to grab my feet as I pass. But I digress.). I will have to purchase the yarn to make the two sweaters currently promised to my MIL and SIL (I don’t have what they want in my stash, unbelievable as that is—it’s really hard to imagine that anything yarnish at all could fail to be in there, but the truth is that they both want something washable and I’m pretty famous for purchasing stuff that has to be handwashed gently in April rainwater on a Thursday night by a full moon while whispering lullabies softly in Gaelic) but I will not try to convince anyone that I need three different colors and weights of yarn to produce one beige cardigan.

I suppose I should allow myself 2 or 3 “mulligans”, if you will—the wool equivalent of the dieter allowing herself a fun-sized candy bar once in awhile because it beats eating a one pound slab of chocolate in a fit of deprivation induced craving. So yes, I may purchase yarn up to 3 times in the next 6 months. Each time, however, may only consist of one type of yarn—enough for one project only. And I must know exactly what project I’m using it for. (Sheesh, I’m tough.)

I know myself well—too well, at the moment. I recognize that certain excuses will naturally come to my lips and, gullible fool that I am, I will tend to fall for it. The following will not be allowable excuses:

“I’ll never see a bargain like this again!” (The very fact that I’ve used this one more than once suggests a certain….logical fallacy, shall we say?)
“It’s such a heavenly color!” (And I probably have at least two different weights of yarn in more or less the same color. Nice try.)
“But it’s on closeout!” (Because they couldn’t sell it, Dimwit. The fact that no other knitters were willing to shell out cash for this stuff is not a recommendation.)
“It’s going to be discontinued!” (Yes, which means that if I purchase it, I will likely make something with it and find myself precisely 6 yards short. No dice.)
“Nothing in my stash is right for this project.” (There is not a project in the universe—besides the aforementioned cardigans for MIL and SIL—that cannot be knitted with something from that stash. There are not 12 projects combined that cannot be knitted from that stash. If there really is a pattern whose needs cannot be met from my existing stash, it very probably shouldn’t be knitted.)
“But this would make such a beautiful shawl!” (My current shawl project has been languishing in my knitting bag ever since I finally realized the demoralizing effect of an ever widening triangle. Who am I kidding? Like I’m really going to turn out 14 shawls all of a sudden? With the attention span of a demented clown? Please.)
“I need to celebrate—I just got 3 more A’s and got into nursing school!” (Okay, I can’t come up with a response for that one. I’m buying a cartload if that happens and screw the diet.)

You fine folks are my witnesses. If you see me in the yarn store, you have my permission to guide me firmly towards the door. But don’t show me what you’re buying and definitely don’t let me pet it. And forgive me if I knock you down trying to get back into the store. It’s this diet, you see. I’m really not myself.

p.s. It’s 12/26/06. I will have you note that I have exactly 5 ½ days of unrestricted fiber acquisition. You may want to stay off the roads during this somewhat dangerous time.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Almost Back to What Passes for Normal

A fair amount of shouting and a temporary cable later, we rather tenuously have an internet connection. Nobody breathe hard or speak loudly--I might even get to keep it until they can actually repair the original which is now clutched in the rootball of the fallen tree (who knew squirrels wanted internet access?). We had a bit more wind yesterday which managed to tear the top of yet another tree which then fell directly on the transformer outside our house....which, as you might guess, knocked out our power yet again. I may have whimpered. But PSE are my new heroes--they had it back up in an hour and all is right with the world. However, in the "WTF?" department for today, check this out:

I have had to call our local cable carrier several times over the last few days because of our lack of internet and cable TV (same cable). And when you call, you punch a series of buttons (sadly there isn't one that says "If you're about to bash the phone against the wall 27 times because you're so sick of these prompts, please press 1 and someone will be right with you") and listen to a series of recordings. The prompts include questions about why you're calling so that by the time you get to where you're waiting for a representative, they already know that your cable is out and you need service restored. As I'm waiting in the queue that never ends, I hear this recording in an obscenely cheerful voice: "Did you know that you can access our services online? Send us an e-mail at (whatever address) and we'll get back to you within one business day, sparing you the time waiting on the phone." Lady, if I could access ANYTHING online, I guarantee I wouldn't spending my Christmas Eve sitting on the couch with a cell phone in my hand listening to muzak Christmas carols just for the dubious pleasure of talking to yet another bored and unhelpful service representative.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. I'm just saying.

They're going to come out on Friday to assess the situation (a long and painful story goes with that, and I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that while I did avoid suggesting that the umpteenth unhelpful person at the cable company do something anatomically impossible and likely uncomfortable, I did use the voice that makes even my husband run for the shop) and, since I know they can't leave without assessing and handling the situation, I really wish I could answer the door thusly:

"Thank you for coming to the Knitingale home. We are experiencing an unusually large volume of pissed-offedness due to incompetent service, and we appreciate your patience. Please be advised that we are working round the clock to meet the needs of the imbeciles who come to our door in the guise of knowing anything whatsoever about their apparent jobs, but some delays may occur. If you are here to scratch your head and stare confusedly at the damaged cable, please reconsider and at least PRETEND you know what you're doing, even if it requires consulting a manual. If you are here to tell me that the problem is a widespread outage even though everyone around us has power, please duck as I have about had it with that and a large heavey object (such as a useless computer) will be winging towards your head in about 30 seconds. If you are here to tell us for the 12th time that you cannot help us because we don't have power, even though I've told you repeatedly that we do, please slip your hand into the opening in the door so that I might slam it repeatedly in hopes of bringing you to your senses. If you are here to write up another repair order to join the 1200 that I suspect are even now being used as coffee coasters at the main office, please step closer so that I can write the order on your forehead in magic marker where it will more likely be seen. If you are becoming cold and wet waiting for my attention, please know that I am sipping a hot coffee as I enjoy your discomfort. Your visit is important to us, so please stay out in the rain while we process your request. And, did you know that you can access us online? We can't get the message because we still don't have any freaking internet service thanks to you assclowns, but the time you take to send the message is time you won't spend driving me nuts. Thank you again for your patience, and thank you for coming to the Knitingale home. Wait time now is approximately 3 hours."

Okay, so I'm a little bitter.

I'm afraid that a week and a half without internet has my dear Mr. K as jumpy as I am, so I promised him I would keep this short and allow him some time, too. Tomorrow I'll return to my more or less daily postings. Thank you again to all of you for hanging in there with me. Now, can anyone remember why I think it's so way cool to live around all the tall trees by the ocean where the storms blow in?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Greetings From Mr. K's Office

Out of necessity is born creativity.....or, at least, out of a serious dependence on the internet combined with a rather malicious tree and an overwhelmed cable company. But I thought I'd at least try to get in a few more words to you all, and maybe even pictures (can't do that at the library). For instance, progress on the noro:

The sinister shadow there is me....but I wasn't the only one:

Miss Gracie thinks knitting is WAY fun. Anyhow, this is the front and back with an attached I-cord neckline (I'm still up in the air about whether or not I like it...what do you think?) and a partial sleeve. I know--you'd think I'd be farther along given 6 whole days of nothing to do but knit and read.....but I found that knitting by candlelight is best when NOT using inconsistently dyed yarn with subtle color differentiations. That is, deep burgandy and slightly lighter, pink-toned burgandy look much the same by the light of three vanilla candles, which is why one side of the neck opening had to be ripped out and reknit. Twice.

Before I forget, I do know I've been tagged and I promise I'll do it. It's just that I don't have access to any of my saved blogsites at present (I have my e-mail addresses, but that's it--everything else is in the online toolbar of the computer at home...which right now is a rather expensive, humming paperweight), so I'll have to wait to do it until I have internet access at home and can pick the next victims....recipients....whatever.

ANYHOW, in yet another cruel twist of fate, I went to exercise this morning and discovered that the only channel that came in reasonably well without cable was showing Martha Stewart. You may know that I'm not a huge fan. But it did get me thinking about how many of us are doing way too much this time of year and so, in the hope of helping some of you, I offer this checklist. See if you recognize yourself.

1. You would have finished knitting gifts for everyone, but the 472 crocheted stars for the tree kind of threw off your schedule.

2. You're pretty sure you have children somewhere....but it's okay because they can always live off the gumdrops in your craft stash that you were planning to string together to make a garland....I mean, until you find them. You're SURE you'll find them.

3. You wake up at 3:00am with ideas about how to fashion a cunning treetop angel out of an empty diet pepsi can and some pretzels.

4. You can no longer feel the burns from the hot melt glue gun....which may be due to the layers and layers of glue on your hands.

5. You were going to get some of that angel hair stuff for the tree, but noticed that strands of glue from all the handmade ornaments have served much the same purpose.

6. You keep trying to convince the children that Christmas cookies and fruitcake are a perfectly reasonable dinner. Extra points if they believe you.

7. Everyone loves the little gingerbread replicas you made of their houses...but some of them are a little weirded out at how accurate the insides are. Particularly the ones who don't recall ever having you inside their homes.

8. Your son asks if he can leave cookies out for Santa and you answer "What am I? MADE of cookie dough???!!"

9. Your husband has taking to leaving mistletoe in places like your stash cupboard, above the sewing machine, etc, in hopes of getting to touch you as you pass.

10. You see the above mentioned mistletoe, but think it must be some weird form of mold and make a note to bleach the areas after Christmas.

11. A shopkeeper wishes you a merry Christmas and you stare at her for a minute, then scream "WHAT??? It's TODAY??? But I'm not READY!!" and run from the store.

12. You can't recall the last time you shaved your legs, conditioned your hair, or took a shower longer than about 45 seconds. But you'd take a longer one if you could figure out how to waterproof yarn.

13. You believe Martha Stewart could be a reasonably good craftsperson if she'd just try a bit harder.

14. Martha Stewart hates YOU.

15. All of your family have known for years that the best response when opening a gift from you is one that is short and spoken in soft, appreciative tones. Comments about wrong size or color will cause all the rest of the family to wrestle the offender to the floor before you can react.

16. You think it's perfectly reasonable to spend an entire day trying to make reindeer out of softened tootsie rolls.

17. You know how to make gift wrap from pulp that came from the trees in your back yard.

18. Your husband is afraid to sleep until you do, because you might gift wrap him.

19. Your children are thrilled to hear the sound of sleigh bells...because now mommy might finally stop muttering to herself and glueing everything in the house to everything else and calling it "festive".

20. Your family asks gently if you were planning to do any laundry any time soon, and you start wondering when they all became too good to go out for dinner in their pajamas.

21. You simply cannot believe that they don't have a store for gingerbread man accessories.

If any of this looks like you, take this advice: put down the glue gun. Put down the yarn, knitting needles, ribbon, etc. Pour yourself a glass of good wine. Find the nearest chocolate (it's Christmas, for heaven's sake--don't tell me there isn't chocolate around!). Repeat this mantra: Christmas will happen with or without homemade tinsel. Sanity can be a great gift to those who must live with me.

My husband's company closes for a week at Christmas time, so posting may be sporadic and dependent on library usership, at least until the cable company gets the line untangled from the rootball of my tree. (Excuse me, my FORMER tree, the bulk of which is even now burning merrily in my neighbors fireplace.) But, once again, know that I am wishing you and yours a peaceful and sane holiday. As always, you are all in my thoughts and my heart.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And There Was Light....

....but not internet. Turns out that the big tree that fell was right next to the buried cable for cable TV (no biggie) and internet access (biggie) and the root ball pulled the cable right out of the ground when the tree came down. Comcast tells me someone will be out next Wednesday to take a look, earlier if they can manage it. No prob. We have light and heat and I'm much more appreciative than I was a few days ago (many thanks for being patient with my rant. I know how much I have to be grateful for and I hate whining...but six days without power can do that to a girl!). So I'm at the library again--you'll know as soon as I have internet because I'll tell you first. After my happy dance.

Now that I have slept in our bed (instead of a pile of cushions in front of the gas fireplace which, by the way, the cats are missing mightily) and taken a shower in a house warm enough that I didn't turn into a giant goose pimple upon stepping out, and I've dried my hair so that my head isn't cold for the first time in a week, and I've run the garbage disposal (that smell in there doesn't get any better when you can't run the darn thing), and my husband got to have coffee to de-cranky before he left and I'm actually planning something for dinner that doesn't include cheese and crackers or barbecued weenies, I can tell you more about this whole thing.

We lost power last Thursday evening. We expected it, but it was still startlingly still and dark. For awhile. Not too much later the stillness was replaced by the howl of wind, the ominous cracking of branches and tree trunks, an occasional crash or thump as things came down. You don't realize how much noise your house makes at night...until it doesn't. I was afraid all night long, just waiting for something to come through the roof. Thankfully, it never did.

In the morning, I went out to find the previously mentioned 20 feet of pine tree on the nose of the Toyota and, in a fit of stupidity unsurpassed in my lifetime, I went and pulled said tree off the car. Don't ask me how. Imagine if it had been on something really important--I probably could have tossed it. For the record, I learned two things: 1) trees are heavy and 2) pulling the attachments where the ribs meet the spinal column creates no small amount of pain (it's doing much better now). Should you ever find a tree on your car and no one you love is inside, trust me: the car ain't that important. But I digress.

Mr. K and I spent the next three days in the yard, moving in a sort of rhythm built by love and familiarity. We hardly spoke but it was as choreographed as a dance. I hauled wheelbarrows full of branches back to the burn pile, he cut up bigger logs and hauled the biggest things back. (If you're wondering if my back liked this, it did not...but sometimes you just gotta do things and it turned out fine.) There was something both awful and wonderful about this time. Awful because we got wet and cold and dirty and the house was still cold everywhere but the living room and we smelled like smoke from the burn pile (15 feet in diameter and taller than me, by the way...and that wasn't even all of it) and we were both sore and stiff from sleeping on the floor already. Wonderful because there is great comfort in that loving rhythm. In doing the work together because that's how it has to be and knowing without doubt or hesitation that you're in it together. I don't think even Mr. K knows how many times I looked over at him during those days, at the flex of his shoulders as he hefted trees, at the curl of his hair, at the strength of his hands--or how many times I breathed a silent thank you that I still have him, that a tree didn't plunge through the roof and take away my heart (for that is what he surely is). Not fun, definitely, but a gift all the same.

When Mr. K and I started dating, a similar (but smaller) storm took down trees on the 5 acres he had at the time. It damaged his shop and dumped branches and whole trees on his front yard. He called to tell me that he wouldn't be able to see me for awhile, as he had to clean it up. I told him no way--he was my friend and no matter what else happened in our budding relationship, friends help each other. I went to his house every weekend for at least 2 months and we picked up sticks and set 'em on fire. I remember watching him then, too, and I remember the precise moment that I watched him walking away from me and knew--KNEW--that my life was wherever he was, no questions, no choice whatsoever. I was smudged with soot and we were both wearing rubber dairy boots and I don't think either of us smelled too great..but it was the most romantic perfect moment in my life. I got to have that again this past I can't say nothing good came out of this storm.

I am also grateful still for all of you, and it is hard not being able to connect with you every day. Be assured that you're in my thoughts. Once I can start posting every day, you won't be able to shut me up. Promise. Thanks for hearing my rants and raves. Right now, all is well and I have everything I need for Christmas. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Powerless in Seattle (Another post from the library)

Amazingly, I am still without power. Puget Sound Energy says it may be "several days still". I am trying not to hound them for a more clear definition of the word "several". We are keeping warm, and we can shower (hot water heater is gas) and really, it could be much worse. That said, there is a point at which one's ability to continue being "a good sport" sort of goes down the proverbial toilet. I suspect that Mr. K believes I have crossed this line (reached it, crossed it, blew it up) in that he has offered the following "guidelines" for my behavior going forward:

I may not mouth the word "wussie" (or anything that rhymes with it) at the neighbor, simply because he has begun using a generator when I know he has a wood fireplace and has no trouble heating his house, the big baby.

Generator envy is not pretty.

While it may be somewhat understandable, it weirds people out when I feed fallen pine branches into the bonfire while shouting "burn, baby, burn!", giggling maniacally, and singing snippets of "Oh, Christmas Tree."

I may not offer sexual favors to the power crew in exchange for agreeing to have the power back on in time for "Project Runway."

That said, if I see the crew taking a break as I drive by, I may not shout things out the window such as "Why are you resting? I'm not tired--why are you tired? Don't we PAY you for this?!" And so on.

While it may be annoying for the neighbor down the street to come watch me pick up nine thousand tons of pine branches, asking inane questions the whole time("So, putting those in the burn pile?"), Mr. K feels it is not conducive to neighborhood harmony to give answers that are dripping sarcasm or include the word "duh". ("Gee, no--it's just that they look so nice scattered across the front yard, I thought I'd scatter some across the back yard as well!")

The word "dumbass" has no place in any conversation with any of my neighbors.

It is fine that at this point the last thing I want in my living room is a damned pine tree, holiday or no, but it is neither necessary nor acceptable to refer to them as "satan's minions" and to ask people who DO choose to have a Christmas tree if they will be needing an exorcism.

People who did not lose power, or who already have their power back, do not suck and it is wrong for me to tell them that they do.

When asked if the tree falling on my car did any damage to it, it is somewhat impolitic to reply "Well, it was a 20 foot piece of tree that fell over 90 feet. What do you think, genius?"

When awakening before sunrise and feeling restless, I may not whistle Broadway show tunes to amuse myself while waiting for Mr. K to wake up.

When getting up early to feed the outdoor cats and then returning to bed, questions from Mr. K about the weather must be answered without the assistance of cold, wet feet on his back.

Immediately after spilling his beer on the carpet and then discovering the sausages on the grill flaming into charcoal is not the time to ask again what we'll do if the batteries run out.

No time is a good time to ask again what we'll do if the batteries run out.

Everyone knows that there are 14 hours of darkness per day in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, and nothing is gained by my telling everyone about it over and over again.

While it is true that people in a crisis situation often crave comfort foods, that is no excuse to subsist entirely on a diet of chocolate donut holes and gummi worms.

Saying that I'm on a nutrition strike in protest of slow power crews is not fooling anyone.

The head of Puget Sound Electricity is not a heartless bastard, and it is probably not in our best interests for me to publicly say otherwise.

"The yarn store is warm and has lights" is not an acceptable excuse for purchasing $100 worth of yarn.

No matter how bored I get sitting in a dark house, I may not do any of the following:
Moon the neighbor
Teach the neighborhood children to play poker
Put tape on the cats
Build a monument in the back yard to Ben Franklin for discovering electricity
Harass the head of Puget Sound Electric by calling him repeatedly to ask exactly what number is meant by "several" (or if he knows who his father is).

Once again time is running out on me. Hopefully I will have power soon and will be back to writing every day. You have absolutely no idea how much I miss writing to and hearing from all of you. No wonder I want to harass the power company.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Nature Shrugged

I am at the local library, watching the clock as I will be unceremoniously tossed off if I'm on here too long. You may have heard about our storm--it was ugly indeed. We lost one very large tree (completely uprooted but amazingly, it fell in such a way as to damage nothing), several small ones (again, no damage) and the very tops of two very very tall ones. The top 20 feet of one of them came down on my car, denting the hood but otherwise causing no damage. We were lucky. Hugely, hugely lucky.

We have no power at all and haven't since Thursday night; Puget Sound Energy assures us that we will have it in another 2 - 3 days....or maybe 5 or so...probably. But it's good. We survived, the cats survived, the house survived, and we have an indoor gas stove that is keeping the living room (also known at present as "where we are living all day and night when we're not picking up fallen branches in the yard") toasty.

All of which goes to say that we are well and safe and haven't dropped off the planet. I will be posting again as soon as we have power, but I didn't want you all to think I'd disappeared. (Although, as I was picking up the first of many tons of fallen evergreen branches, I did start to think I'd been buried in green...and not the fun kind you can buy stuff with).

Once again, I'm missing all of you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Very Merry, Non-Offensive, Non-Litigious Holiday

Some of you may be aware of the recent difficulties faced by our local airport. For those who are not, it goes like this: Seatac Airport put up Christmas trees (referred to by the newspaper as “holiday trees” to avoid offense). A local rabbi protested that there was no menorah, and threatened to sue if one was not included in the decorations. Seatac decided to simply take the trees down. The rabbi, having received a fair amount of negative input from Jewish people, withdrew his threat to sue. The trees went back up, with the understanding that the rabbi can help plan the decorations next year. After all this, I got to thinking about the holidays and offer you this glimpse into the possible future of politically correct, non-litigious holidays.

1. For many years it has been accepted that Mr. Claus has a number of happy elves working for him. This is offensive on a number of levels. Firstly, the correct term for people of smaller stature is “little people”, not elves. Secondly, since they do not generally come into contact with the public, it is improper and a violation of their rights to require that they be happy or cheerful (and is clearly discriminatory to employees with mood disorders). These employees may be asked to treat co-workers and superiors with respect, but may otherwise be irritable, cranky, sad, and generally not happy. Thirdly, the policy of choosing workers according to height is clearly discriminatory. Going forward, the toy shop must be staffed with little people, people of average height, and tall people. The toy shop will close down for one year to make the necessary structural changes to allow for taller employees.
2. The term “Santa’s Helpers” is deemed to be derogatory. Going forward, toy shop employees must be referred to as “Toy Making Assistants.”
3. Toy making assistants may not be asked to sing while working, as this does not in any way contribute to the quality of the work, and discriminates against employees who are tone deaf.
4. The reindeer known as Rudolph has filed suit alleging discrimination and harassment based on an unfortunate facial deformity. Going forward, the other reindeer must include him in their reindeer games and name-calling incidents will be dealt with swiftly and decisively. His place in the team pulling the sleigh must be chosen based on skill, not unavoidable physical features.
5. The need for reindeer to fly has been found to be discriminatory against acrophobic reindeer, thus putting them at a disadvantage when searching for a job. Mr. Claus will be required to create alternative ways to deliver toys so that all reindeer may have an equal opportunity for employment.
6. Ms. Claus has filed a complaint about the obvious gender discrimination and glass ceiling at the North Pole, given that her job for years has been relegated to cooking and cleaning and she has never been given any opportunity for further training or promotion, in spite of continued good performance. Going forward, Mr. Claus will be required to provide training and growth opportunities for her, as well as a written career ladder.
7. It has been discovered that Mr. Claus routinely uses discriminatory labels to categorize the world’s children as “naughty” or “nice”. Clearly, such labels are inflammatory and may have the unfortunate result of scarring those children labeled as “naughty”. A class action suit on behalf of approximately ten million children has been filed, requesting restitution in an unnamed amount, and further requesting that in the future Mr. Claus heads his lists “behaving as requested” and “behaving more creatively.”
8. It has been observed that people all over the world leave cookies out for Mr. Claus to eat in the performance of his job, as well as glasses of milk. It has further been observed that many of these cookies contain types of fat that may be dangerous for Mr. Claus’s continued cardiac health. Moreover, dairy products contain lactose and years of drinking millions of glasses of milk in one night have left him severely lactose intolerant. Going forward, snacks left for Mr. Claus must be of the non-dairy, non-fat variety, and must be in the original, sealed packages with ingredient labels securely attached. Homemade snacks will be disposed of as potentially dangerous.
9. While Mr. Claus has always entered homes through the chimney when delivering toys, it has been found that this is discriminatory to people who do not have chimneys. In the future, if the government cannot provide chimneys for all people at no cost to them, Mr. Claus will be required to enter homes through windows or doors. Mr. Claus will not assume responsibility for broken windows or hinges.
10. Mr. Clause has noted that many homes have likenesses of him on their lawns and homes during the winter celebratory season (the words “Christmas” and “holiday” may not be used; remember that “holiday” comes from the words “holy” and “day”). As he has not given permission for these likenesses, it is ordered that they must cease and desist immediately, and any future such depictions will be subject to lawsuit.
11. In some areas of the world, the winter celebratory season falls in the warmer months and it has been observed that Mr. Clause is often depicted in such climes wearing a bathing suit, most particularly a red Speedo. This is unquestionably a case of sexual harassment, and Mr. Claus is suing for pain and suffering caused by the resulting humiliation. In these areas in the world, it will be necessary to move the holiday to a cooler time of year in order to prevent future embarrassment for Mr. Claus and his family.
12. Mr. Claus is a person of size and all references to him as “fat” , “round”, or having a belly like “a bowlful of jelly” are obviously size-ist. Such references will be dealt with swiftly and in a decisive manner.
13. The labor union has filed notice of unfair practices in the matter of Mr. Claus being required to deliver toys to all of the children in the world in one night. Clearly this is a gross violation of labor practices, as Mr. Claus is forced to work for 24 hours without a break for food, water, or bathroom use. Going forward, Mr. Claus will deliver gifts in increments, over several nights, in order to allow for the necessary breaks. The retail industry has anticipated this, and has already begun the season in October to allow for his new hours.
14. Mr. Claus has some vision impairment (as evidenced by the glasses he wears) and so cannot be expected to read lists written by small children in crayon. Going forward, all gift request lists must be typed and spell checked or they will be discarded.
15. The phrase “ho ho ho” has been found to be offensive to women working in the world’s oldest profession and will be stricken from Mr. Claus’s vocabulary immediately.

A very happy (should you choose to be happy) winter celebratory season to you and yours….and may all your snacks be wholesome and free of trans-fats.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We're Still Not in Kansas Anymore...

But I still have stories and photos. First, the delightful Marianne:

In one hand she has the newly acquired stash enhancement, in the other....well.....see this meter?Yeah...we didn't. At least, not until AFTER the hour and a half shopping spree. Oops. Something about knitters and yarn stores...especially those with "barn" in the name which, let's face it, does suggest a certain wealth of yarn just begging to be explored. Note that she is smiling. That's because the total fee on the ticket was exactly $2.00. Yep. $2.00. Beats me why anyone bothers to feed the meter around there (there, by the way, is Lawrence, KS, Faren. Sorry I didn't tell you yesterday...but you're right. You need to go there. Can't you just hear the wool calling you?). The meters in Seattle are so expensive that it would actually be cheaper to take the ticket....mind you, I suspect that the tickets here might also be slightly more expensive. And I doubt that the local traffic court judges accept wool fumes as an extenuating circumstance (which is just wrong...).

Okay, so I did do a few other things besides the yarn crawl. On Saturday we went with my SIL, her hubby, and her son to the new WWI museum in Kansas City, which was really a great experience. If you're in that area, don't miss it. Of course, trust me to emerge from the museum with my camera securely attached to my wrist....and not one photo. (Not much in the way of brain cells, either, apparently...but this no longer surprises me.) Being that I am a Knitingale, I was drawn to the section with medical equipment and supplies. Then I had a serious attack of the willies at the mere thought of being treated with some of that stuff. Kind of amazing anyone made it out alive.

From there we went to lunch where I did exactly what might be expected if a person were foolish enough to go on a four day trip with one pair of jeans, all the more so if they were favorite jeans. Yep. Big old blob of barbecue sauce. Which was made all the better that evening by the addition of a blob of butter that night at dinner on the other leg. Oh yeah. You definitely want to dine out with me. I'll bet Emily Post would come to me for etiquette advice if she only knew of my keen prowess. The next morning found me tearing around Target, desperately trying to find an inexpensive pair of jeans that didn't make my ass look like two wrestling pigs, or my thighs like blue sausages. (who wears a size one, anyway? That's not a size, it's the age at which I last fit into anything that small). Success was marginal...but it got me through the rest of the trip. During which I only ate non drippy food. While leaning over the plate. With about a thousand napkins on my lap. The gods must not have been at their best, though, because the really humerous thing then would have been to spill on my shirt.

We had a gift exchange and my OM (other mom) almost made me cry with her gift of a mug that says "Nurse" on it; I love that she believes I'll make it. If you're reading this, thanks , Mom. I'll try to make you proud. My sister-by-other-parents (sister in law) also made me want to cry with a photo album that says "Sisters" on the front and a picture of us together inside. I'm looking forward to adding to it....assuming both of us can actually agree on a picture that we don't think makes us look fat, sleepy, old, goofy, or whatever. Cameras and's a long war. I'd rather not talk about it.

The next day took us to Union Square shopping where I bought a stuffed Kansas cow (gotta add to the herd) and managed to eat without spilling on myself. Twice. It was a banner day. Speaking of cows, Marianne brought me one, too--a little one with an udder. It's so darned cute I can hardly stand it.

Let's see...what else....I wanted to include a photo of OM, but she craftily dodged the camera. Next time. I'm a patient woman. I did manage a photo of her cat Toots who evidently shares Grace's love of packing:

And, just in case you can't tell how huge she is:

It's a good thing she's sweet...otherwise, we'd be seeing headlines about the cat that swallowed Kansas.

And before I finish, I have to say this: I went to check my grades online today and I got 4.0 in each of my three classes. Oh, yeah. I am one happy chiquita. Now, if I can just do that 8 more times......

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We're Not in Kansas Any More....(part 1)

Okay, so that's kinda obvious....but I've always wanted to be able to say that. Anyhow....we did get back safe if not utterly sound (something about arriving home at midnight in the middle of a howling windstorm sort of discourages the use of the word "sound"....) and I suspect it may take more than a post to tell you all about it. But, since I know what you REALLY want to know:

Okay, so maybe this seems excessive (and maybe there's a cat buried under there now that I think about it....but they know the hazards of living with knitters, right?). But I have an excuse (and for once, it's actually a legitimate excuse). My dear mother-in-law is a crocheter who knits only occasionally (I keep trying to lure her over to the dark side with us, but no luck so far) and told me at one point during our trip that she had "a bunch of wool yarn that someone gave me" and, since she doesn't knit with wool, she wondered if I could use it. The picture above is that bunch of yarn. It's piled up so you really can't see all of it....but it's beautiful stuff. Mostly Lopi, a bit of Lamb's Pride in a heavenly shade of blue, some unlabelled sock weight stuff, some odds and ends. My mother-in-law (really, my other mom) said she thought there wasn't enough of any one color to do anything with...but the colors are so complimentary, I can see a sweater of many colors in my knitting future without too much trouble. (Yeah, yeah--when it comes to color, I really am a magpie on crack. I don't think my tastes have mellowed or matured much since I was four and wanted everything that touched me to be either bright red, bright red, or bright red. Except now I like teal and purple, too.) Anyway, you'd think that would be enough....but then, you're mostly knitters so perhaps the mere notion of putting the words "yarn" and "enough" in the same sentence (without the word "not") seems as ludicrous to you as it does to me. In any case, check this out:

Yep, you're seeing right. That's batting. See, while I was in Kansas I had the opportunity to (yarn crawl with) meet the absolutely delightful Marianne from Marianne's Knotminding while I was in the midwest (however cool, smart, funny, and just plain awesome you think she might be, multiply that by about 57 and you'll have a start--she rocks) and we found this place:

Yeah, I know--"yarn" and "barn". You just KNOW it's got to be good, don't you? And it was. They wouldn't let us take photos inside or I'd show you the huge assortment of yarn, batting, cones, spinning wheels, looms, etc. (Turns out they were afraid we'd take pictures of patterns and thus use them without paying for them. I love Marianne all the more for her comment that "knitters wouldn't do that!" How true.) ANYHOW (yes, I'm getting to the point, honest), Marianne wanted to get herself a spindle and some batting so she could try her hand at spinning. Given that I have the coordination of a moose in cement slippers--in a room full of crystal--I have always assumed that spinning would be beyond my talents (I fear I'm using them all up making all these sweaters and shawls and socks and such) so I regretfully decided not to do the same, although I admit that I fingered the batting quite wistfully. (Should the owner of the Yarn Barn be reading this, I thank you for not calling me a pervert or throwing me out just because I spent so much time with my entire hand thrust into the center of a bag of alpaca fiber and moaning quietly to myself.) But Marianne surprised me later by presenting me with the lovely batting you see above AND a drop spindle. Marianne, I love that you believe in me. And you can bet that I'm not giving up until I have spun and knitted something that will make me think of you (like I need anything to remind me to do THAT!!).

All in all, we had a lovely time and I only wish we'd had more of it. I have pictures but I'm giving her the chance to veto any that she hates before I post them. (Doesn't that make me sound terribly nice and considerate? I really hate having to admit that she did the same for me first...otherwise, I might not have thought of it. But the pics of her are so good!) I'll get the approved photos up tomorrow when I do part 2. 'Cause I really did do more than yarn.

Oh, but speaking of yarn:

My lovely and talented niece (she's the pretty one without fur--the fur person is Haley). In the chair is my equally lovely sister-in-law (also without fur). Joanie took to knitting like a duck to water (or, more properly, a sheep to....whatever sheep are drawn to....), and I resisted the urge to rub my hands together and utter a sinister laugh (bwa-ha-ha-ha!) as another one saw the way of the wool. I did tell her, though, that I had to get a picture for proof, as I'm pretty sure I'm close to having recruited enough to get a free toaster. And her mother was very pleased that I taught her the process but not the profanity. Hey, I can be reasonable.

There's so much more....but I'll tell you more next time. In general, it was a lovely trip with loads of loving family and a tremendous day with Marianne. You just can't ask for more than that.

By the way, I went to PT today and he noted that my neck seemed looser. He asked if I'd been knitting much and I told him, truthfully, that I had not had a chance to knit all weekend. At which point, he uttered it: "We really need to take those knitting needles away from you." Yeah, you just try it, Buddy. There's more than one thing to do with a pair of sharp, pointy sticks. And don't think I won't let loose the flying monkeys.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Short, Sharp Post Due to Long, Sharp Needle

Should there ever be any sort of doubt regarding my sanity--that is to say, whether I actually have any--let this settle the matter: being that I have an elbow that has joined the dark side and, further, being that I am completely and totally unwilling to stop knitting (although, in my defense, the elbow has been a problem for about three years, and I wasn't actually knitting at that time. I had taken a hiatus--which is Knitingalespeak for "I learned back when all we made was cardigans and crew neck sweaters and had no idea it had become so fun all of a sudden"--so I don't really think we can hold the knitting responsible for the rebellious elbow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.), I actually went in and allowed the doctor to insert a 30 foot needle (I'm pretty sure that's how long it was....I didn't measure it, but I'm pretty sure) into said horrid elbow and inject steroids in the hope of healing it faster. He assured me it would get worse before it gets better, which is doctorspeak for "I'm covering my ass in case it hurts even worse tomorrow, and you were thinking of calling and whining to me about it." He was right--it hurts like learning today that the LYS had a 75% off sale on alpaca. Yesterday. So I'm supposed to be resting it and not typing quite as much as I usually do (I think I've mentioned my sad case of writer's bloat) so will attempt to keep this short. Relatively.

Mr. K and I are leaving tomorrow morning early for a trip to the Midwest to visit family. To that end, I spent the early, pre-javelin-in-the-elbow hours packing and so forth. I was not alone:

But, try as I might, I couldn't not get a picture of her face. She kept looking at me and then turning away just as I clicked the shutter:

The observant among you will notice Samus next to the suitcase. She's coming along, having never seen the Midwest. Underneath you may notice a knitted mohair item in shades of's a surprise for someone (such suspense). Anyway, I think my camera craziness may have irritated Miss Gracie....not sure what makes me think that...maybe I'm one of those animal psychics or something...

After that came the happy task of tenderly cramming 50 pounds of cookies into three 6 inch tins in some sort of attractive arrangement. They're coming along, too.

I was such a happy little elf. The fact that Santa is thinking about charging me 50 cents for each time I used the "f" word while trying to cram the cookies in without breaking them...well. Y'all know. C'mon. You think Mrs. Claus doesn't let fly a little colorful language now and then? Her house is overrun with elves, her yard is full of reindeer droppings, and her husband works one day a year. I'm pretty sure she'll understand the cookie profanity.

I won't be able to post when I'm gone, but I'll be back late Monday night and I'll have lots of news and pictures for you on Tuesday. I'm planning a quite marvelous yarn crawl while there--I should have pictures of tons of yarn AND an empty wallet.

Some thoughts before I sign off for a few days (which feels very weird, by the way....I miss you guys already...).

1. Why does my doctor's office--a family medicine clinic--have for waiting room magazines exactly two choices: Fit Pregnancy (at least somewhat understandable) and American Cheerleader (....?....)?
2. Why does the TSA, in their infinite wisdom, think it's perfectly okay for me to bring quite pointy knitting needles and scissors on board (okay, so my doctor doesn't.....killjoy) but my husband's gel shoe inserts are a threat to national security?
3. If I pretend that Starbucks Peppermint Mochas (conveniently available at the airport) have no calories and are good for me, might I gain only imaginary pounds on my ass?
4. Since my doctor made the magnificent comment "Since you're so THIN, we have to watch for the possibility of blah, blah, blah...." (I'm not sure what came next...he had me at "you're so thin"), wouldn't it be totally reasonable to move into his office and become his slave? Yeah, I thought so. Mr. K didn't think so AT ALL, however. Go figure.
5. How much yarn do you think I can cram in the space made available by the offloading of three tins of cookies?
6. Do I really need clean clothes for all three days? I mean, just in case the cookie tin space isn't all I hoped for.

Okay, I really do have to stop before either my elbow or my husband start getting really firm about it. (He seems to think it's kind of dumb to type madly away with a sore elbow....but I don't get that.) Come back on Tuesday for pictures from the Midwest. I'll have all kinds of good stories and ill-gotten booty. (Like in "pirate booty", you perverts. They don't do that kind of stuff in the Midwest. And if they did, they surely wouldn't blog about it. And stop calling me Shirley.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Language Barrier

I do not think of myself as a sexist, but I will defend to the death (well…not to the death. I don’t feel THAT strongly about it….how about, to the moth infestation of that one weird colored wool I’m not all that nuts about but purchased in a state of wool-fume-induced dementia?) my opinion that men and women are distinctly different. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way we all communicate. For instance, Mr. K was working out on the elliptical (an exercise machine, for those who have not yet been introduced to this sort of torture and are still back on lesser tortures….such as plucking out nose hairs one by one). When I use it, I tend not to use any of the pre-programmed settings, but simply get on at the lowest resistance and go for an hour. Much more resistance than that, and an hour is RIGHT OUT. I’m going for stamina. (Okay, yes—it’s also easier to unravel thrift store sweaters while working out if there’s isn’t so much resistance that my eyes start to bug out…..but that’s besides the point.) Mr. K, however, does use the programs which are much shorter but involve varying levels of resistance, as well as an annoying little light that simply BEGS to be knocked out with the end of a knitting needle as it flashes helpful things like “going too slow”. I hate that light. Anyway, we were discussing this and here’s what came out:

Mr. K: “I’m not sure you’re really doing yourself much good. You should try to use one of the programs.”
Me: “You think so? I feel like I’m getting a pretty good workout…but maybe I should try it.”
Mr. K: “Yeah, you should definitely try the weight loss setting.”
Me: “...”

Anyone want to guess why that bothered me? Anyone? Yes, you in the back. I can't see you clearly, but I'll bet cash money you're female. The men are all going "What? What's wrong with that? He's helping her, isn't he?"

But I'm not a man basher, and I admit that the communication deficit goes both ways. For instance: He decided to iron some pants last night (don’t get all excited—it’s an annual event at best and occurs largely because I admit to not being able to get the creases right no matter what I do. I think they’re evil.) and, when he’d finished, he said he was going to go upstairs to get on the computer. Leaving the iron and ironing board in the middle of the kitchen and the iron plugged in. And the pants he’d ironed hanging over the back of the chair. If I was sensible (which is a laughable notion, I know) I would have said something like “You forgot to put away the ironing stuff.” Or “Could you put the ironing stuff away before you go up?” Simple, direct. But, no. I said “Are you through ironing?” This is about as effective as a cat flap in an elephant house, and yet, I attempt it again and again. I have absolutely no excuse or explanation for this behavior. (I’m pretty sure it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting to get a different result. Then again, he was a man.). What he answered, rather than something like “Oh, yes—let me come put all of this away” was something more like “Yeah—you can go ahead and put it away. Oh, and can you bring my pants when you come upstairs?”

Here, a few other near misses (some most definitely my own fault--I'm being fair here)

What I said: “Do you have any more laundry?” What I was thinking: “If you’d just put all the laundry in the hamper, we could skip this conversation.” What he heard: “Don’t bother with the hamper. I’ll come get your clothes.”
What I said: “Are you going to the store today?” What I was thinking: “I have a few things you could pick up if you are.” What he heard: “I need a few things, can I get anything for you?” What he said: “No, but if you are, can you pick me up some diet Pepsi?”
What I said: “I really don’t want to miss any of this show.” What I was thinking: “Please don’t channel surf during the commercials because you rarely get back to the right channel in time and then I miss part of it.” What he heard: “I like this show. I wonder what other good things are on?”
What I said: “I’d like to leave by 2:30.” What I was thinking: “If we do not leave by 2:30 we will be late for the umpteenth time and will burned in effigy by our soon-to-be ex-friends.” What he heard: “We have to go somewhere some time today.”
What I said: “I can’t sleep when you roll over on me.” What he heard (apparently): “Please gouge my eye out with your elbow at 3:00 am.” (Okay, I have no explanation for that one.)

Clearly there is a communication gap here. Have any of you noticed it?

On a more serious note, thank you so much for all of your kind words regarding my last post. One reason that I write essays about why I want to be a nurse is that my will flags a bit in the face of all the bureaucracy and red tape, and my confidence packs a bag and hitchhikes to Memphis on a regular basis when I think about the huge amount of competition I’ll face. I write to remind myself….but your warm support and encouragement do so much more than that. They remind me to come out of myself and I am forever grateful for that. It saddens but does not surprise me that so many of you have had less than wonderful experiences with medical professionals. It shouldn’t be that way….but it is. I still remember a doctor telling me in a very patronizing tone that “people who have had a difficult childhood such as yourself sometimes have aches and pains that have no medical source and we never find a reason. Have you tried counseling?” Which might have been useful advice….were it not for the fact that he was discussing the damage to my neck which started in a car accident, and my low back which actually has a congenital defect. Were it not for the fact that I have arthritis up and down my spine, a number of bulging discs with impingement and an assortment of other little nasties. Otherwise, yeah, that was really helpful. Or the dork who responded to my complaint of 24 upper respiratory infections in 10 months with the comment “Well, you had a hard year.” You think? Gee, you must be some kind of genius. I actually had severe chronic sinus disease that required surgery…but why split hairs? All I want to say is this: Hang tough. Demand good treatment and care. You deserve it. They’re working for you, whether they see it that way or not. I always told my patients that. That goes for all of you, too. I’m thinking a hug to each and every one of you. And a bitchslap to any nurse or doctor that doesn’t treat you with respect, concern, and compassion.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why I Want to Be a Nurse, part II

I met her for the first time when I was a brand new medical assistant. Green, you might say. She had come into our clinic with a deep cut which clearly needed stitches, and she clutched soaking gauze to it as she stared at me. She was intimidating, this woman. She appeared angry, defiant. She spoke very little. When I asked her how she had gotten cut, she glared at me and said “I did it to myself.” And she waited. Right away, I knew a few things. I knew she expected me to judge her. It was in her eyes. I knew she figured I’d be shocked, uncomfortable, disgusted. Or worse—that I might pity her. I knew that even a delay in answering would be catalogued, tucked away, and I’d be found wanting. I also knew that I would likely see her again, and that whatever I said or did next was my only chance to get through the outermost layer of her anger and fear. If I did it wrong, I’d never get another chance. I scarcely dared to breathe, so fragile and fraught was the moment. I nodded, met her eyes, and replied as calmly and matter-of-factly as if she’d said the carving knife had slipped “Okay. When was this? About an hour or two ago?” She blinked. She cocked her head to one side. Clearly, she had not expected this. We sat and looked at one another for what seemed like years. Finally, she allowed as to how it had probably been an hour or so. I nodded, handed her fresh gauze. I told her I was glad she’d come in, and I left to get the doctor.

I was right that I would see her again. She came in often, almost always for the same thing. For the first few times, we did the same dance over and over. She would challenge me, wait for the judgment that did not come. Slowly, painfully, she began to trust me. She began to look for me when she came in, and we started to connect. I liked her, if the truth be told. She was so much more than her pain, and the things she did to herself, while disturbing, were far from the most important thing about her. She turned out to be shockingly intelligent, and possessed of a sharp and dry wit that often caught me off guard because of her perfect, deadpan delivery.

There were rules. I tend to touch my patients—a hand on a shoulder, a pat on the arm—if they are willing. She was never, ever willing. I never got the sense that she disliked touch but rather, that she was denying herself even this small comfort. Her self-harming shamed her and her self-loathing ran deep. Another rule was that I could not be sympathetic in any way. I learned to never ask her if the wounds hurt, or to murmur words of support when she got the painful injections of anesthetic so she could be stitched up. I could ask her about her pets (whom she loved) or I could tell her something funny. I could stand nearby where she could see me, but even the simple kindness of a pillow under her head was often too much.

If this was a movie of the week, it would end with her getting the necessary help and slowly stopping the behavior, and my presence in her life would be a catalyst for change. If you work in the medical profession, you know better. “Helping people”, a fine ambition, is nevertheless a phrase that requires redefinition over and over again when you care for people in this way. It was beyond my ability to help her with the soul-deep wounds that had brought her to this place. But I could and did create a place of comparative safety, and one without the judgment that she feared. When I left that clinic, she was still suffering although she had started to see a professional. It wasn’t the first time. I hope fervently that it was the last, that it did the trick, but I know the odds aren’t good.

Thing is, my co-workers (who were mostly sweet young things) were baffled and would say things like “You’re amazing with her”. As if she were a dog to be trained. I hated those remarks. I wasn’t amazing with her—I was amazed by her. I was amazed by her strength, her courage. You’re probably thinking that it doesn’t sound very strong to keep hurting oneself over and over, but who knows what dealt the vicious blow that led her to that place? For her, survival of any sort was probably a triumph.

It’s like when you walk on an icy sidewalk in slippery shoes. You flail, right? You wave your arms around and bend and twist and grab pointlessly at whatever’s nearby, just to keep from falling on your ass. And it makes perfect sense—to you. But to the person across the street who doesn’t see the ice, you look like a freak. Your behavior is crazy, inexplicable. It’s like that with people who have been so badly hurt. I couldn’t see this lady’s personal sidewalk, and nor could anyone else. She was trying with all of her being to stay upright, though, and I admired the hell out of her for that.

I’ll tell you the absolute truth: if I helped her, if I held a fraction of her pain from time to time, if I made her a safe place for brief periods, then I’m glad. But knowing her was a gift. She taught me volumes about life and about pain and about caring. About the breathtaking indomitability of the human spirit. She taught me that you can touch without your hands and you can comfort with laughter and help doesn’t always look the same. Everything she gave me was precious and rare.

She’s why I want to be a nurse. But not just her—all of them. Every last person who comes for help and still graciously offers lesson after lesson while asking little or nothing in return. They’re gifts that take my breath away over and over again. I can’t believe I get to be there for that…..but I know I don’t want to stop.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brownie Juggling and Peppermint Seizures

Or "Ms. Knitingale's Adventures in Holiday Baking"

Turns out that dark chocolate truffle does not, in fact, substitute for floor wax. Who knew? Actually, it doesn’t really do all that much for the refrigerator shelves, the front of the vegetable drawer, or the vent at the front of the fridge, either. But you can’t say I’m not a creative cook.

It started with the truffle brownies. Y’all remember my brownie recipe that I put up at the very beginning of this adventure in blogdom. You stir ‘em up in a bowl and you spread ‘em in a pan… remember. For the truffle version, you put a layer of chocolate truffle on top instead of the caramel (or with the caramel if you have a burning desire to experience coronary angioplasty at a young age), you chill it, you add a layer of white chocolate on top of that. (Yes, it’s quite sinful. Evil is not too strong a word to describe these. In truth, I don’t even bother to eat them. I just tape them directly to my ass because that’s where they’re going anyway.) So last night, I baked the brownie layer. Then I made the truffle layer (melt a half a stick of butter in 2/3 cup cream, once it’s hot take it off the heat and stir in a 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips until melted and thick; add a splash of vanilla) and spread that on the brownies. Then I went and sat down to knit on the noro (which is, as it turns out, quite selfish with my attention and will not tolerate my paying attention to any other projects. The shawl has been whining, but the noro is a harsh mistress and will not yield).

An hour or so later, I went back into the kitchen and melted down 12 ounces of white chocolate with a little butter to keep it slightly soft. I stirred it briskly and then opened the fridge and pulled out the brownies w/truffle. And flipped it over completely. COMPLETELY. It flipped away from me, swiping thick, chocolate truffle all down the inside of the fridge, into the vent, and finally splatting face down on the hardwood floor (because, of course, it would have been too much to ask that I might drop it directly down and break a few but leave some intact and not paint 40% of the kitchen with it. The kitchen gods would consider that to be hubris.) It was like an action movie where the car suddenly careens off the cliff in slow motion, and you watch transfixed but unable to do a thing to stop it. Yeah, it was like that. Only with uncensored swear words.

Since that went so swimmingly well (if swimming in truffle counts), I decided to try a different variation on a theme today: peppermint brownies. For this, I was flying by the seat of my pants (easy to do since I didn’t have any brownies taped there). I’d never tried this before, but I had an idea. Once again, a brownie base. Once it cooled, a layer of cream cheese/peppermint goodness, made with crushed candy canes and powdered sugar and a splash of milk. Oh, and a single drop of red food coloring so as to make the palest of pale pink. I’m back in the game. (Regardless of what I told my grandma as a child, it really is pride that goes before a fall, and not summer. She wasn’t amused by my variation, as I recall and the kitchen gods weren't, either.) I spread the cream cheese stuff on the baked brownies and set them in the refrigerator to chill. Mindful of the similarities to the Truffle Brownie Disaster of 06, I used two hands to very slowly remove the chilled pan and set them on the counter. Then I melted down several ounces of good quality chocolate for the very top. And then learned once and for all that when the experts tell you that the tiniest amount of water in your melted chocolate will cause it to seize, they’re serious. (One of my favorite quotes from a foreign movie is “serious as a kick in the…..” well, you get the picture. They’re that serious.) So I stirred around the mess and swore again (I really do use language that isn’t profane from time to time…although I’m sure it doesn’t seem like it.). Mr. K wanted to know what was wrong and I told him, grumpily, “I didn’t dry the bowl well enough and my chocolate seized.” To which he replied, a bit dazedly, “Your chocolate... had a seizure?” Which is why these new creations, now finally repaired and more or less presentable, have been christened “Peppermint Seizures”. What else could they be, really?

They don’t taste half bad, either.

I wanted to thank all of you kind souls out there for your diligent efforts to replace my lost bejeebers. I have finals this week, and I’m pretty sure I’ll need some bejeebers to be scared out of when I see the 100-question test in Anatomy and Physiology. I guess Walmart is fresh out of them, but I feel certain that someone has some. Maybe e-bay. Heck, you can buy ANYTHING on e-bay.

Someone who apparently has all her bejeebers intact and in hand is this little lady:

This photo was taken through the living room window and Mr. K kept knocking quite loudly in an effort to get her to look up so you could see her very sweet face. No dice. She’s even closer than she appears and she cared not one whit about the racket. Apparently she knows we’re no threat to her OR her bejeebers. But isn’t she lovely?

Oh, and a word to Faren: I told Mr. K about the propane torch and the pretzels (check her comment on my last entry if you haven’t—but make sure you’re not drinking pepsi when you do it. Pepsi burns when you snort it up your nose.). I predicted that he would wonder why that was funny, but he did me one better by grinning hugely and saying “Hey, I want to try that!” (If I had a bejeeber left, it would be running from the house with its tail between it’s legs going “yipe, yipe, yipe, yipe!”) He also said something about using the belt sander to peel potatoes, and the power drill to stir cake batter. Faren, I’m blaming your hubby for this one.

Lastly, a perfectly dreadful photo of me (I swear my face isn’t quite this huge in person) wearing a sweater that I did not make, but which has more or less the sort of neckline I think I want for the noro (a tad bit higher, perhaps, in order to minimize the free-range boobage). What think you?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Please Send to North Pole

Dear Santa:

Okay. So I know this wasn’t the best day. And there’s no point in hiding it because of that whole “sees you when you’re sleeping thing” (which, with all due respect, does seem a bit....stalker-ish...don't you think?) so I thought I’d better drop you a quick note to explain and ‘fess up, as it were. I believe it would be fair to say that, while I am not necessarily still qualified to be on the “nice” list, I think I deserve at least a chance to explain myself before being sent unceremoniously to the “naughty” list. Clearly, I was under no small amount of duress.

I know what you’re thinking and yes, I probably shouldn’t have mouthed those unkind words—okay, exaggeratedly mouthed—at that woman who went racing by me in that crowded parking lot. But Santa, she scared the bejeebers out of me. See for yourself—I’m bejeeberless. (In fact, you may want to add bejeebers to my Christmas list…I don’t suppose it’s good to wander around the world without bejeebers.) Besides, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one offering an opinion on her driving skills, given the number of honks I heard after she sped past me.

Okay, yeah, so that guy who stole my parking place probably doesn’t really have such questionable parentage as I might have implied. But I know he saw me waiting for that spot and he just shoved his big old mini-van in there anyway. Besides, it’s not like I used one finger to illustrate my estimation of his IQ, though I dearly wanted to. That’s worth points, isn’t it?

While it is true that I thought distinctly uncharitable thoughts about those women at Value Village who stood two feet from the dressing rooms, blocking the entire aisle with bodies and carts, loudly pondering whether this or that skirt was too tight (the aisle sure was with them in the bloody middle of it), I didn’t say them out loud, did I? I did not. And look what a good sport I was when I went to find the Christmas tins that I came in for in the first place, and the nicest, brightest one turned out, once opened, to smell exactly like feet. I was not delighted, no, but I didn’t throw it. That was good, I thought. (Although I’m still pondering what in the world the original gift in that tin was…..and how I can be certain that I’m never on that person’s gift list).

While it is true that I rolled my eyes heavenward the fourth time the woman at Ben Franklin moved to stand directly between me and the books I was looking at (or, more accurately, trying to look at), I did not suggest to her that some assistance with her reading skills might be in order, given that it apparently took her 20 minutes and four tries to figure out which of four magazines she might want to purchase. Indeed, I went all the way over to pet the alpaca yarn and kept my thoughts to myself. My head might have exploded but so great is my respect for our deal…..well. For you, Santa. It’s all for you.

Speaking of Ben Franklin, I’ll have you notice that I purchased a gift for someone but even in the face of all that temptation, I only purchased one knitting magazine for myself. Sure, I petted quite a bit of yarn (I’m sure the store owner didn’t mean that bit about my having to purchase a gross of yarn if I didn’t stop rubbing the fuzz off of it), but I did not bring one skein home for me. Moreover, I feel that the knitting magazine thing rather came out even, given that I chose it quickly in the moments my view wasn’t blocked and only discovered once home that it has about one item I’d actually make. You could hardly say I benefited there.

By the way, I think you should thank your lucky stars that “reindeer really know how to fly”, at least in the greater Seattle area. The roads were so packed with shoppers today that I feared for whatever remained of my sanity trying to get home. Notice that I refrained from offering any sorts of opinions regarding the private behaviors of the other drivers when I sat through the same light four times because people kept not noticing it had turned green. (G for green, G for go…how hard can that BE???) If I were you, I would definitely stick to a higher altitude. (Watch out for our volcano, though. I don’t think it would get you…but better to be safe than sorry.)

In the end, I think it is clear that I behaved as well as could be expected, given the extraordinary challenges of the day. It is my sincere hope that you might take this into consideration when making your final decision as regards that little issue we discussed. You know, the one about the little backyard flock of sheep.

Ms. Knitingale.

P.S. I would definitely watch the sheep when you fly over the volcano. You know how burning wool smells.

P.P.S As you may know, I am typing this in Word (to be copied and pasted into Blogger later) because my husband will not allow me to use the computer that has internet access. He says he will set my yarn on fire if I don’t quit bugging him about it. I was going to ask that you leave coal in his stocking but, on further examination, it seems that perhaps something with which to build fires would be a poor choice. I wonder if you could leave him some non-flammable rocks, instead.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lost: One Brain, Well-Used

If you are a logical, sane person and you happen to cast on for the front of a sweater on the wrong needles, and if you happen to notice that little error five rows later, chances are you will strike your forehead with the palm of your hand, pull the offending stitches off the needles, curse once or twice, and start over on the right needles. At least, that's what I've heard. I confess to having no real way of knowing.

Logic. Yeah…..we don’t get much call for that ‘round here. Which is probably why I worked another two rows on the front of the noro sweater before acknowledging that a full needle size difference between the front and back of the sweater might, in fact, be noticeable and might not, actually, be passable as a new trend. All of which is to say that my brain is apparently on loan somewhere (woe be the poor sap who has it—just don’t try to make anything, is all I can say--unless you happen to be two inches wider in front than you are in back, in which case my brain should serve you quite well) and I am forced to entertain you with yet another odd assortment of things. First, the back of the noro:Plus a close-up of the stitch pattern:

I am, of course, still putting off the neckline decision for as long as possible.

We received a lovely gift for Gracie in the mail the other day:

There were actually several of them, and they came stuffed with all the parts for a new computer which she has kindly offered to let us use while she enjoys the important stuff.

Not that I find the end of the quarter and all my final exams stressful or anything (one of my delightful teachers has decided to give us a chapter test on Wednesday followed immediately by a comprehensive, final exam. Ask me how much I love that.), but I went to the dentist for a cleaning (or, as I prefer to think of it, an chance for the hygienist to use some of her favorite tools, such as the “pokey thing” and “the gouger”) and discovered that I have been grinding my teeth so hard that I broke a piece of porcelain completely off a crown. Oops. (I keep saying I don’t need to manage my stress…..but you know, I could be wrong about that.) Luckily, the broken crown is on a tooth in the way very back, and the break is on the inside where it couldn’t possibly show. Of course, dentists consider it their sacred duty to inform you of such things….and then advise you solemnly to “try not to mess with it.” I would have answered him, but I had my tongue on the broken spot and it was really hard to talk that way.

I have a truly beautiful 16 year old niece in Kansas (Hi, Joanie!) who is really an unusually smart and charming young lady. I quite enjoy her, so I’ve been thinking that when we visit next I may offer to (bring her over to the dark side) teach her to knit. I’m thinking of bringing her some good needles, some patterns, and something truly yummy like alpaca (the better to completely suck her in with). For the sake of the family budget, I may have to also teach her the ways of yarn recycling….but I’m okay with that. I’m a patient woman. If we need to convert the world to knitters one at a time, I’ll go with that.

I apologize for the short (and at least slightly uninspired) nature of this post. As I said, I suspect that my brain is on loan. If any of you see it, please post it this way. I can assure you, it has quite a few miles on it and, if you’re in the market for a new brain, you’d do better to find a nice new one with some extra features. Automatic stress shutdown, for instance, and better resistance to yarn fumes (or the ability to create money out of thin air. Either one is good.) Trust me on this. The knitter/student/whackjob/abby normal brain—just pass it on by.