The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It Should Be Possible to Call in Stupid

When you find yourself heading out the door to school holding a purse, a water bottle, and a single handknit sock, it should be a right to call in stupid. I wouldn't probably need a note or seems like it would be obvious to the most casual observer.

Now, in my defense, the sock in question was the Mt. Creek sock which I finished last night and which did, as it happens, turn out to be unfairly maligned. Which is to say that it graciously forgave me whatever I said about the sheep it came from and produced a sock that I am surprised to absolutely adore:

Oh, you want to see the heel? No problem:

And see, since I do adore the sock so very much and since I am filled with all sorts of happy feelings about the whole thing not turning out to be nauseating (never mind actually agreeing to be knit up into something wearable at all), of course I had to try on the sock for Mr. K. And I really didn't want to take it off....partly because it felt so nice and partly because I wasn't totally sure it wouldn't change its mind and become something thoroughly hideous while I was at class.
But that's when I realized I was running late.
Now, having realized that you are attempting to go to school with a purse, a water bottle and a sock, if you then go back inside, return the sock, and go upstairs for books (books....yeah, maybe it makes sense to take books to school) and then go all the way out to the garage and get in the car before noticing that you didn't open the garage door yet....well, yeah. It's time to call in stupid. And if you then get out of the car, open the garage door, and get back into the car before realizing that you don't actually have car keys....c'mon. Isn't it obvious at this point that you are far too stupid to drive? Certainly it isn't logical to believe that, having miraculously made it to school unscathed, a person would actually learn anything. Don't ask me how I made it home safely. I suspect there was significant luck involved.
Now that I think about it, perhaps this whole concept of "calling in" needs to be revamped. For instance, I have been known to go all girly and fuss with my hair for half an hour in an attempt to look presentable and still look like a full-figured string mop (full for a mop--don't get on me for calling myself fat again). On those days it was very tempting to call in ugly. I don't mean I'm overwhelmingly hideous or have a second calling as a circus freak. I just mean that for that day, I was not fit for public viewing. The world needs to be more sympathetic to this, I think. After all, I'm only thinking of the people who have to look at me.
Or how about the times when I couldn't find a damned thing to wear in a closet whose contents I rarely allow anyone to view all at once because it's so painfully obvious that I have a terms of self control in the wardrobe department. I mentioned on one of those days that I was about to call in naked...but Mr. K took one look in my closet and suggested I call in completely nuts instead. I'd like to take offense at this...but it's just so hard to take decent umbrage at the truth.
By the way, does anyone know exactly what an umbrage is? Or where I would want to take it? Does anyone have any advice on the care and feeding of an umbrage, assuming I do at some point decide to take one? Should I have it neutered so I don't end up with a houseful of little umbrages? Yeah, yeah, I know. I should have called in weird.
There are those times when I can't be bothered to iron, so it should be okay to call in wrinkled...or lazy. I'm good either way.
Oh, and how about those times when you sit down for a few minutes before you leave (I'm a morning person--I know the idea of "a few minutes before you leave" is a foreign concept to those folks like my poor Mr. K who typically only gets up a few minutes before he leaves) and the cat snuggles down in your lap. Really, calling in "cat on lap" seems perfectly legit to me.
I'd love to stay and chat but you know, the world is simply not advanced enough for my obviously brilliant idea and I was forced to go to school anyway...which means that whatever passes for my brain today has been filled with 2 hours of something that sounded rather like "blah, blah, blah, chemistry, blah, blah, valence electrons, blah." I'm thinking I may want to try to read it.
Always assuming I'm still capable.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Career Day at the Knitingales

Mr. K and I were chatting the other night, considering rationally what sorts of options I might wish to explore, should I be one of the 80% or so of nursing school applicants who isn’t accepted. (Or, I was having a moderate to large meltdown of the “I’ll never get in whatamIgonnado?” sort that involves sudden panic and running around in frantic circles until the cats become nervous. You know, whatever you want to call it.) The upshot was Mr. K’s gentle suggestion that perhaps I would feel better if I took a moment to think about other interests I might want to pursue, should the need arise. (Or he watched me spinning wildly and imagining all sorts of doomsday scenarios and considered turning the hose on me but didn’t want to pay for new carpets. Again, whatever you want to call it.) The point is (and I believe I might actually have one) that I started thinking about other directions in which I might take my career. For instance:

As a child, I wanted to be a surgeon. Now, the obvious issue here is that I am 41 years old and by the time I finished that much schooling I would have about 3 productive work years left in which to pay back approximately 12 hundred gerjillion dollars in student loans. A further concern, however, is that while I am absolutely stellar at identifying body parts on a neatly drawn diagram, when I dissect real body parts I can’t find a damned thing. My A&P teacher was kind enough to pretend to believe me when I told him that the heart I was cutting up must have come from a deformed cow because it didn’t seem to have any specific parts other than “this slimy thing” and “this other slimy thing.” Sadly, I think this does not bode well for any potential career in surgery. “Mr. Jones, I’m afraid I wasn’t able to remove your appendix because once I cut you open, well, it all just looked like slimy stuff. I did take out this thing…whatever it is. I’m sure you won’t need it. Good luck with your recovery.” Yeah…not so much.

I also thought I might want to be a ballerina (I was nothing if not diverse in my goals). But here is where we are forced to recall that I needed the letters L and R crayoned on my dance shoes for the entire time I took dance….which, again, seems not to suggest a strong career in the field. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a directionally confused dance company out there. Besides, I grew boobs. Ballerinas aren’t allowed to have boobs.

At some point, I considered firefighter (probably just to annoy the neighborhood boys who insisted that only boys could be firemen, but I think it still counts). The only problem there is that I suffer from a fairly debilitating fear of heights, which would seem to pose a problem for someone who frequently works on ladders. I knew a firefighter once and he said “Oh, don’t worry. Most people are afraid of heights to some extent. But you get into a rescue and you don’t think about it!” To which I am forced to reply that his fear of heights and my fear of heights are so completely unrelated that they have never even spoken via e-mail. I think it is not comforting to a victim being rescued to have the rescuer saying over and over “Please don’t let go of me! Oh, man—it’s so HIGH up here!!” Also, I’m not too nuts about this notion of going into a building that’s on fire. I generally try to avoid things that are on fire.

I think I did want to be a rock star at some point….but I think that Mick Jagger and David Bowie are the only ones who can pull that off while within spitting distance of qualifying for Medicare. I also think that leather pants and I should never, ever have a close relationship. Ever.

I remember wanting to be an actress and I even acted in some plays. It seems, though, that the movie and broadway-going audiences are somewhat more demanding than the bunch of mothers and fathers we used to play to in high school. I guess they want actual acting talent. Or huge breasts wedged recklessly into tiny shreds of clothing. And maybe a little toy-sized dog.

I love the outdoors but, alas, it does not love me. I have a black thumb and a homing device for any and all insects and other venom-bearing creatures. Apparently, I taste phenomenal which, while flattering, does not seem to be much upon which to build a meaningful career. Forest Service is right out.

I could always wash elephants at the zoo…but you know, if you deal with one end of an elephant you’re going to have to deal with the other one. I’m pretty certain that scooping out the elephant box is a bit nastier than scooping out the catbox. Besides, I’m also fairly certain that if the zoo let me wash elephants, they’d make me wash other animals, too, including ones not nearly so civilized as elephants. Giant Snake Wash Technician is not so appealing, somehow.

Ice cream taster. Okay, now we’re talking. I have highly attuned taste buds and at least some degree of common sense. For instance, that guy who invented mushroom ice cream? Yeah, he wouldn’t have gotten that far if he’d asked me. I could have told him that few people really want fungus in their soft serve. And don’t get me started on the guy who made the onion ice cream. (Seriously—people really have made both of those flavors…and worse.)

Thoughts, suggestions? Anyone have an in with Haagen-Dazs?

To respond to a couple of comments (because as we know, I’m a serious comment whore): Monica, have no fear regarding the Lorna’s Laces Mt. Creek. It hates me, yes. But I probably did accidentally say something bad about its mama, or perhaps the sheep it grew on. I believe it will like you significantly more than it does me.

I can’t remember now who asked what sock pattern I was using (and blogger is down or I would check…I’m typing this in Word so I can copy and paste it later. Ain’t technology grand?), but it’s the Ridged Feather Design from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks. It’s a great pattern—four rows and three of them are knit. Ya gotta like it.

Ed woke me up repeatedly all night wanting affection. I think he’s asleep on the back of the couch now, so I’m going to go down now and rub my head against him until he wakes up. Then I’m going to let him go back to sleep and do it again. Think there could be a career in that?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ill Gotten Booty

No, no, my tush is just fine (and completely covered as of this writing. I make no promises about future writings). Not that kind of booty--YARN booty. I promised photos of actual purchases (i.e., the stuff on the ground underneath the wagon) and let no one say I don't deliver.

Well...okay, I mean, I won't bring it to your house or anything...not THAT kind of deliver....but I'd probably invite you in to look at it and knit with me if you came to my house. I'm friendly that way. Bring cookies.
This first is from Angora Valley Farms and is 370 yards of Hand Dyed Monarch superwash wool in the colorway "Ruby Redmond" (which makes it some sort of fate in my devious little mind, seeing as how I live in Redmond. The fact that I didn't notice the name of the colorway until just now....well, we'll just let that slide, mm-kay?)

I had a heck of a time photographing it...that area that looks white is really kind of a peach shade, and the red is really closer to cinnamon. The area that actually looks cinnamon is really more of a brick. I think I will probably not consider photography as a viable back up plan in case I don't get into nursing school.

Next is 390 yards of fingering weight washable merino from Fancy Image, no color name given:

This one actually photographed pretty true on my computer...but don't worry, I won't let it go to my head. In truth, you can be fairly certain that this was the result of luck and not a shred of skill. I'm actually quite proud that I know how to change the battery in the camera. And don't throw it when I can't figure it out. Much. Anyway, the yarn is purples, oranges, reds--kind of like a sunset.

Now, remember that I was trying to find two yarns of the same weight and in vaguely complimentary colors (by which I mean they don't make me want to standards dropped considerably as I neared the bottom of my sock yarn stash)? Well, I found some Koigu that I think will solve the problem. They also don't have color names, so you'll have to go with "it's these ones":

The one is obviously black; the other is a retina-rupturing combo of hot pink and red and orange that may have been designed with clown wigs in mind. Clown wigs, or knitters like myself that have good taste the same way a four-year-old picking out her clothes for herself the first time has good taste. (What can I say? As a child, I campaigned strenuously to be allowed to wear the purple jumper with the orange shirt.) But do consider--the black will be the ribbing, the heel, and the toe; the clown wig stuff will be just part of the mosaic pattern, so that should tone it down. I tried hard, but I really couldn't resist. While I was there, I was sadly wrestled to the ground and forced to buy still more koigu (not really...but it somehow sounds better than "I have as much self control as the above mentioned four-year-old in a closet full of chocolate when there are no grown-ups in hearing range", which is significantly closer to the truth):

I can't figure out quite why I love this stuff...but I do. And somehow, the fact that I got 10% off with my Knitter Anonymous card made it okay to spend twice as much as I intended. I intend to discuss this with my algebra teacher next time I see her...clearly, she taught me something incorrectly because I'm pretty sure I didn't save with that deal in the way I've been trying to convince Mr. K that I did ("you saved $2.50 so you spent another $23? Really?" I think I was doing better with the "wrestled to the ground" story).

Lastly, the Knitters Anonymous goodies, at the request of my dear Marianne who really wanted to see what was in there (as did I...once I got the 10% off card, everything else became sort of....hazy):

The big red thing in the middle is a tote bag with the warning signs of knitting addiction on it; around it is a whole assortment of goodness. There are two bumper stickers (in the front), a pink antennae ball that says "I knit in traffic", two labels for sewing into finished garments (one says "made with love by a member of knitters anonymous" and one says "made by a knitwit"), numerous postcards with knitters 12 steps and warning signs of addiction, a patch for reducing yarn cravings (I told them at the booth that it wouldn't work; they assured me that it was guaranteed not to), two pencils that will work as size 11 needles in an emergency, a keychain tape measure (I initially typed "ape measure" by mistake....which will have me giggling all afternoon. Don't we all need an ape measure?), a ruler, two memo pads headed "while you were knitting", a package of Knitterette gum and, of course, the discount card for all the stores that honor it. Not too shabby, I think. Oh, and they showed me the secret handshake, too. Truly.

And now, I will stand in the bullring of fate, waving a red flag aloft--that is, I will post a picture of the umpteenth sock I am trying to knit with the Lorna's Laces Mt. Creek. It's become a matter of pride now. It's almost as though the yarn has talked smack about my knitting abilities, and I am duty bound to shut its wooly mouth. (Not that I'm taking this personally, mind you.)

If you're thinking that you don't like it as well as the Jaywalker, you're not alone. Unfortunately, when I tried to make the Jaywalker in a size that didn't require leg buttering on my part, the colors pooled so that one side was completely green and purple and the other was completely turquoise and raspberry. While Mr. K proclaimed it "kinda cool", I'm pretty sure he didn't mean cool as in "fashion forward." So Jaywalkers were out. This pattern is actually kind of fun and scallopy and lacey in person and looks better than the photograph. Besides which it gets this godless yarn out of my stash and off my needles.

And I'm SO all about that.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

That Resounding Thump You Heard?

That was me, falling off the wagon. Or rather, doing a giant belly flop off the wagon into a pile of welcoming fibers. (Here is where I remind you that I DID allow myself 2 - 3 little slips over the six months yarn ban....and hope you don't notice the fact that this hardly qualified as a LITTLE anything). It all started like this:

The Medrona Fiber Arts Festival. Knitters crack (and no, I'm not referring to yesterday's thong incident, thank you very much.) This very simple sign had me shivering with anticipation. (Yes, I know. I STILL need to get out more.) I didn't take any classes--just mostly came for the ambience.

I'm sorry-what? You thought I came for the shopping? Oh no, heavens no. That would be irresponsible, seeing as how I already have plenty of yarn. (Hang on while I look at that sentence...I so rarely see the words "plenty" and "yarn" together like that. I certainly don't use them that way.)
Coming through the doors yielded these views:

The wool fumes were dizzying. It really wasn't that big of a room, and there were only 24 vendors....thank good wool. As it was, I really should have left a trail of crumbs and notified a search party to be on the lookout for me. I circled that room so many times that they were starting to put together my own little pit crew.

Blue Moon Yarn was there, but the booth was always packed and I never did, in any of my many passes by, get close enough to even touch, let alone purchase. From a distance, it looked quite tempting....but when the term "feeding frenzy" keeps coming into your head, it seems best to move on (no aspersions whatever cast on Blue Moon--beautiful stuff, wonderful company). I had better luck with these folks:
This is just one half of the booth belonging to the good people of Angora Valley Fibers, and I love them hugely. Enormously. Tons and tons of beautiful sock yarn, incredibly well priced. You can actually buy skeins of it that are 546 yards for just $16. I found this booth a few times. Customers were starting to think I worked there....or had a really weird and disturbing obsession with yarn (this may have had something to do with the way I kept holding and stroking the yarn and saying things like "my precious"....but I think those people just lack dedication.) They just had merino with them today--not angora--but it was softer than.....well....than a very soft thing. I was quite happy to share some of my money with Angora Valley.

This is but a fraction of the goods available at Linda's Knit N' Stitch:

This whole section is Koigu--Linda carries 101 of their colors. This booth also inherited a bit of my money. Yes, I am deeply ashamed. Or will be, once I stop rolling around in new wool like a colt in fresh grass. At least I'm not whinnying.

I looked at batts but am still uninitiated in the ways of the spindle and wheel (or possibly just a great big coward...I'm not quite sure which). Still, it was a booth wherein I didn't manage to part with any money, so it seemed like a good idea to take a picture of know, for posterity:

I don't remember who sponsored this booth....which says something about the singlemindedness of the non-spinning knitter.

I don't have a picture of Fancy Image Hand-Dyed Yarn, but they have some pictures of presidents from my personal collection. (I told you it was a pretty big tumble from that wagon, didn't I? I think I left a divot.) Beautiful stuff at their booth, as well as one of the funniest parts of the day--the woman ahead of me was paying with cash and the cashier asked her if she had any ones. Whereupon three of us started hunting through our knitting stuff to see if we had brought size 1 dpns. Seriously. We all felt pretty sheepish....which seems appropriate for knitters, really.

I also stopped at Knitters Anonymous and waved good bye to a few more presidents. They (K.A--not the presidents) have a pretty good thing going where you pay $35 and get all kinds of cool stuff (tote bag, button, pencils that double as size 11 needles in a pinch, atennae ball, etc.) plus you get 10% off all purchases at participating merchants any time you buy from them (not just at the show but any time you go in or buy online). The first two thousand memberships sold will be lifetime (I was number 900 and something--yay me!). As I told Mr. K, this was a great deal because now I can get even MORE yarn I don't need, but for less money.

Mr. K is a very patient man.

I haven't yet taken pics of my loot but I will, and I'll post them for you tomorrow. Frankly, I think it's shame that's holding me back. Really, I left a HUGE divot coming off that wagon. I blame the socks.

Oh, and I couldn't resist the call of that damed Lorna's Laces that's been kicking my butt--so I started yet another sock with it (yes, sometimes I just have to beat myself to death with the uncooperative yarn) and so far (shhhh) it's going really well. I'll take a picture of that, too. (My hats off to whomever suggested in comments that perhaps I might have talked smack about that yarn's's been cracking me up all day! Which might be another reason that other shoppers looked at me strangely....besides the petting and saying "My precious", I mean).

Finally, in case you're not a knitter and are getting dizzy yourself from all the wool photos, or in case you ARE a knitter who also adores cats (you know who you are, Monica), I offer this picture of Miss, another of the outdoor stepcats who sometimes ventures inside. I believe Miss is short for Miss Priss, but I'll have to ask hubby.

And now, dear Knitters, I am off to kick back and rub wool all over me. It has been a lovely, expensive day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

You Think You Know

You think you understand what embarrassment is. You think at 41, nothing could really rattle you too much. You think.....well. You're clearly not thinking because if you were, the whole thing wouldn't have happened. Picture, if you will:

It is Friday morning in Biology 212 lab class. The assignment is to map the human circulatory system, in teams, on a life size drawing. There is only one way to do this, really, and that is by sitting on the floor around the giant piece of paper and leaning over it to draw and write stuff in. With me so far? Okay. Now, imagine this: the young, male teacher comes over to lean down and whisper conspiratorially in your ear that you might want to either avoid leaning over the paper or perhaps tie a jacket around your waist if you do. (Already you can tell this is going nowhere good, can't you?) So now, you reach back to see what the problem is (thinking perhaps that your shirt has pulled up slightly and your low back tattoo is showing and maybe he has a thing against tattoos?) and discover that your reasonably modest, mid-rise jeans have fallen slightly lower and you are now displaying fully an inch of panties for all to see. Thong panties. Yeah, that's SO the impression I was hoping to make. But wait. There's more.

Now imagine that you flee to the restroom, face flaming, to adjust things and, as you do so, you look to see which thong you were flashing. And was it a simple, dignified white or nude one? No....I'm come to realize that the universe fails to run correctly if I am allowed to maintain any sort of dignity. Get this: it was a pink and gray cotton, Felix the Cat thong. Swear to wool. No, I do not have any explanation for being an adult who owns an assortment of thong panties with cartoon characters on them. I suspect that there IS no satisfactory answer for that one. At least I wasn't wearing the "Snoopy as Joe Cool" ones. Or "Hello Kitty".

"So, what did you do today, Honey?"
"Oh, not much, dear. I did flash my entire biology class while wearing a pair of cartoon thong panties!"

Yeah. It's been a good morning. My only comfort is that the teacher in question is a brand new father and, as such, is so sleep deprived that he may well not remember the incident. Or may believe it to be some sort of strange, cartoonish dream.

The morning, however, is not too much out of line with yesterday. I didn't manage to flash anyone yesterday, but I did turn the heel on the Jaywalker sock and finally tried it on. Sort of. See, somehow I failed to comprehend that the Jaywalker stitch pattern, lovely though it is, also makes a somewhat tight, not-terribly-elastic weave. So although I have made socks with fewer stitches on the same size needles without trauma.....this time, there was trauma. Specifically, I can wear them if I heavily grease my feet with lard first. And suck in my calves. With minimal sobbing (okay, lots) I unravelled the Lorna's Laces yet again. I think it will take a brief rest now, while I contemplate how very much I hate knitting. Hate it. Monica, the colorway is Mt. Creek--and for a bar of chocolate and a knitting pattern I'd deliver it right to your door this very instant. Did I mention that I hate knitting?

We shall respectfully refrain from pointing out that the "hatred of knitting" lasted all of 20 minutes before Ms. Knitingale cast on another sock. In her defense, it WAS at least a different yarn.

The sock needle holder--you guys are going to hate me but I have no idea from whence it came. It was a gift from a friend with whom I have sadly lost touch (not by choice) and I recently found that even her blog has shut down. I really don't have a guess as to where she got it. Don't worry, though. If one more pair of socks goes south on me, I'll be giving away every single wool-associated thing in my house to the first person who backs up to my porch with a U-Haul.

The same sort of yarn gremlins seem to have Irish relatives as well, as our beloved Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns seems to be having the same sort of altercation with a Michael Kors sweater and a ball of cashmere. Jo, I feel your pain. Just remember, we knit because.....we knit...because...hang on, I used to know that....we knit because....oh, yeah. Because it's such a relaxing hobby.

I was delighted to find so many Pratchett fans out there! I love them all, and have a particular love of Greebo, the "old softy" cat of Nanny Ogg. I can never pick a favorite of his books, but Wyrd Sisters was up there. So was Hogfather, though....and really any of them that have Twoflower the tourist. Yeah, I know they're making fun of Americans with that character. It's okay--we probably deserve it.

It's been a traumatic 24 hours. I think I'm going to go stroke a cat and write "I will try my sock on BEFORE I've traded several precious hours of my life for it" 500 times. And maybe read a Pratchett novel.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Walk This Way

This: the Sammamish River Regional Trail (try saying that three times fast) where I went walking this morning. So this: ..must by all rights be the Sammamish River (which it is). I love this trail and this river dearly, and not just because I can access them a mere 5 miles from my house. As you can see in the top picture, the trail is wide and paved and mostly easily travelled (the orange lines are outlining places where tree roots have buckled the pavement, and the city has thoughtfully marked them so that when you go flying over your bicycle handlebars, you can see exactly where the problem started). As you cannot see, the trail is also miles and miles and miles long, and offers very little change in grade making it absolutely perfect for biking, skating, running, etc. If today had been a sunny Saturday in June, I wouldn't have been able to take these pictures without being trampled; on those days, we're lucky if the bicyclists remember to shout "On your left!!" with a millisecond or so to hurl ourselves into the bushes bordering the trail before being flattened.

We shall not speak of the morning when I somehow mixed up my right and my left and nearly ran over 3 pedestrians before Mr. K helpfully noted "Honey, you've told 3 different people that you were passing on their right when you were really passing on the left. Are you TRYING to take out joggers?" We shall also not speak of the fact that I had "L" and "R" crayoned on my tap shoes when I was a child...and if I was still dancing, I probably still would.

Because it is a grayish Thursday in January, the trail was manageable although not empty; I probably saw 50 or more people on it this morning. You can see why:

Who could stay away?

For those who tire of the view (impossible to imagine, I think), there are assorted sculptures along the trail, too. For instance:
Yes, you are quite right--it is the mathematical symbol for pi. Every autumn I fight off a desperate urge to pile pumpkins up around it . You know, pumpkin pi? (I already KNOW I need to get out more, what do you think I was doing this morning?) There's also this one:

..oddly titled "Sitting Woman" and not "Stolen Chair" as I would have suggested, had the artist only taken a moment to ask me. Sometimes, I am amazed at the wealth of genius that they pass up by not asking me. There is also this charming little chair:

(Seems like it would only be kind to offer it to the poor "Sitting Woman", don't you think? ) And yep, that's a partial Jaywalker on the chair. Here it is with a bit more detail:

The Lorna's Laces finally shaped up and and started distributing its colors a bit more attractively, possibly because it heard me say I was going to make it into a pot scrubby if it didn't. I'd have done it, too.
I was going to post in my comments to answer some of YOUR wonderful comments...when it occurred to me that I do have a blog...and one could, conceivably write stuff on know. Just a thought. (Occasionally the disconnect between my brain and the real world is truly concerning.) Anyway, I absolutely love getting your comments (seriously, I'm like a kid in December counting presents every time I check my comments) so here are some answers.

Marianne: Gussie sends her best but steadfastly refuses to pose. It is her nature to want absolutely NOTHING to do with any human who wants her attention for any reason. It's quite sad--the more I want her for something, the more suspicious she becomes until eventually she's hyperventilating behind the couch and I feel like some sort of weird cat stalker. I only get pics of her when I sneak up on her.

Monica: I can't believe you referenced Rincewind and The Luggage!! I LOVE The Luggage! For the uninitiated, these are characters from Terry Pratchett's discworld novels which are absolutely hysterical. The Luggage is made of sapient pearwood and so is essentially a big trunk with legs that walks around on its own. It is also somewhat vicious and regularly eats all manner of things including, once, a shark. And you know, I never thought of it until you said it, but the couch does look a bit like The Luggage, chowing down on Ed. Good thing I sit on the other side of the couch! Have you read "Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman? Incredibly funny book.

Jo: I do short-row heels and I double wrap the stitches to avoid the holes. I don't think I do anything special in terms of how I wrap them....just put the yarn on one side, slip the stitch, put the yarn back, slip the stitch back. I think it's the double wrap that does it. Wrap it once, go wrap on the other side, come back, wrap it again, go wrap the opposite one again, and only work it the third time I come to it, knitting or purling it together with both of its wraps. A friend taught me this, and it seems to take care of the holes pretty well.

Jill: So true about that "look" that cats get. How about the "pissed off bathing"? Do yours do that? Most of the cats I've ever had, if embarrassed, will follow up the fall or whatever by washing themselves in short, jerky, motions as if to say "Screw all of you. I'm going to take a bath." Cracks me up every time. Gracie is currently doing her "you're paying way more attention to the computer than to I'm going to sit between the two of you." thing. If this is full of typos, it's because I can't see through her big tushie. (I have to blame things on the cats--I don't have children.)

Kitty Mommy: I only wish I had the excuse of children (see?). Sadly, I'm a slob all by myself. I actually have clothes that I will not wear while eating because I like them too much to subject them to the inevitable disaster that follows. I'm working on a way to blame the cats for that, too.
A happy Thursday to one and all. I'm off to keep that yarn on its best behavior.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Knitingale's Laws (plus pictures)

First things first--I must offer a Crayon Sock picture for Jo, who was dear enough to ask:

There be my insanely bright-colored feet. I'm not at all certain it isn't the colors as opposed to the wool that makes them so darned warm.

For Monica, a bit of kitty cat cheesecake:

(Sorry, Gracie isn't much for posing. I've told her that America's Top Model would never put up with this, but she doesn't seem to care...)

and some beefcake:

I know this looks like a thousand other Ed pictures, but look closely. This is his favorite sleeping spot--the top of the back pillow on the couch. If you really look, you'll see that he's gradually slipping into the crack between the pillow and the couch--his one foot is already lost. Usually he stays there until he falls all the way in. Then he becomes thoroughly disgruntled and stalks over to the fireplace, glaring at me over his shoulder as he does so because, somehow, it MUST be my fault. Stupid human.

So, Knitingale's Laws:
1. If, having come within inches of hypothermia in chemistry lab, one is actually organized enough to stuff a fleece jacket in one's backpack, the temperature of the lab will immediately change to something in the neighborhood of tropical beach. Conversely, if one gets fed up with digging around the now-unnecessary fleece and leaves it home, there will be a family of Eskimos building an igloo in the lab by morning. Forget wearing a heavy sweater--this only guarantees temperatures in the orchid-growing range.

2. No matter how many balls of sock yarn are in the sock yarn drawer, there will be no more than two that actually match well enough to think of using them in the same sock, especially if one wants to make a mosaic sock and has time to do it.

3. The aforementioned two balls of yarn will match...but they will not be the same weight.

4. This will not become apparent until two inches of sock have been completed and look, thanks to all the puckering, like a wooly raisin (in delightfully matching shades of blue).

5. If one then digs out a ball of Lorna's Laces yarn and attempts to make an entirely different sock, the first pattern tried will be all wrong for the colorway. The second will cause the color to pool badly. If one believes that knitting is "fun", this will start to go out the window at about the fourth attempt to start making a damned sock. The following photo is evidence of this law, and was taken after approximately six hours of knitting.

(What? You can't see any sock? It's the little bitty thing in the foreground, no doubt coated with the sweat of a half-crazed knitter. I hate it as much as I love it at this point, but it's hopefully going to be a Jaywalker when it grows up.)

6. If one has the forethought to stick a bag of pretzels in the car for after class, it will turn out to be chocolate dipped ones. Which is no real problem but, when eaten, these pretzels can be relied upon to shower the eater with tiny bits of chocolate.

7. Once a piece of chocolate falls, it can be further relied upon to land squarely between the legs of the eater/driver, so that it becomes essential to dig attractively in one's crotch while driving in order to avoid the inevitable melty chocolate spot on the pants.

8. The likelihood of actually rescuing the fallen chocolate in time is inversely proportional to the number of places a person must stop on the way home. More so if one is wearing white pants, which is why Ms. Knitingale does not OWN white pantsf(except scrubs, and Ms. Knitingale absolutely does not eat while wearing them. Not until they've already gotten stained with Betadine, anyway.)

9. Having opted to forego the remaining pretzels in favor of warm bread, if one then stops at Great Harvest and then walks out to the car holding a round of fresh baked bread in one hand and a buttered slice of Cinnamon Chip bread in the other (they give free slices of bread every time you go in...they're good people) while also clutching purse and keys, it is at this moment that the panic alarm on the car will accidentally go off, forcing one to choose between dropping fresh bread on the pavement or smearing butter down one's shirt.

10. This is even more likely if the shirt was a Christmas gift from Hubby in a perfect color of cranberry that fits like a dream.

11. Some people just shouldn't eat unless in a bathtub or completely naked or both. Which kind of rules out eating in public, I think.

A couple more pictures for you. Since I've been moaning about our dreadful winter, I feel the need to demonstrate why it is we love Seattle still, even after the whole tree throwing thing. These were taken today off the back deck:

See what I mean? And if you look closely at the next one, you'll see my shadow in the corner. I don't know why I kind of like that...but I do.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


My tire, that is. Yesterday turned out to be a very long day indeed. It all started with a warning light on the dashboard of my car. You may remember that the car was purchased brand new in March of '06. I have never in my life owned or driven a brand new car, so I have been extremely gentle and loving and cautious of my multi-ton metal baby. The universe has rewarded my care by throwing a tree at her during the December storm, but I can save that diatribe for another day. Yesterday the issue was the light.

Nor was it a logical sort of light. If it were up to me, warning lights on dashboards would all be little words that light up and say things like "look under the hood at that little whirly thing" or "that clicky thing is acting a bit strange but you don't need to panic" or "find a person in greasy overalls as soon as possible". You know. This, unfortunately, was a tiny exclamation point in parentheses with a little jagged line underneath.


What in the world could that mean? Even better, I noticed it at about 7:15 in the morning as I was driving down the hill to go to school to take a chemistry test at 8:00. I could not miss it, and I could not be late. But this was an exclamation point! (Yeah, one of those.) To me, this sounded serious. This sounded as though the accompanying words might well be "run for cover because this baby's gonna blow!" I was concerned. We need to understand that the definition of concerned is full-scale freaked out lunatic panic, akin to finding a moth in the cashmere. I was definitely concerned.

A note here: I am always deeply concerned and vexed by lights on my dashboard, to the point of utter irrationality. Even if I know it's no big deal, such as when the service engine light came on automatically shortly after I had the work done and I knew it was only because it does so based on mileage and has absolutely no way of knowing I had the work done and so on, I still panicked. That time, I actually tried to explain to the light that I'd already had the oil changed and everything was fine. Same thing the few times I've ever let a tank of gas get low enough for the light to go on. I'll drive along saying "I know, I know! You've told me! I'm on the way to the gas station RIGHT NOW!" Oddly, this doesn't help. Conversely, if the light goes off, even if I know that the problem isn't solved, I'll feel better. Weird does not begin to describe my attitude about cars.

So here I am with this weird light glaring at me, wondering what in the hell it could represent (the jagged line vaguely resembled the back of an alligator...but I was pretty sure I didn't have a "You've driven over an alligator" warning light....never mind that they're not all that common in the northwest corner of Washington anyway). I can't go home, because I absolutely cannot miss or be late for the test. I'm terrified that the car will blow up. I am officially, a wreck. Finally, I got to the long stoplight at the bottom of the hill, fumbled the owner's manual out of the glovebox, and tried to locate the light and the possible solution to my predicament. (I am forced to wonder here why the owner's manual must be as long as a bestselling novel and zipped into an unwieldy leather case that must be turned sideways and balanced on the steering wheel to read...someone's idea of a sick joke, I expect.) My eyes were darting back and forth between the traffic light, the dashboard alligator warning light, and the manual. It was not an awesome happy moment.

Finally, I learned that the alligator was in fact, a tire. The light is a "tire pressure warning" light. There is no other information other than to check the tire pressure, which I decided was probably not best done in a moving vehicle (although I did consider yelling out the window at the car next to me to just "see if any of them look squishy, would you?!"). I got to school, walked around the car, and sure enough: the left front tire looked low. In the sense that the word "goodyear" was half invisible as the tire sank wearily into the concrete. Quite low, really. And now I had another predicament: I had no idea how long it had been leaking. It seemed quite possible that I could come out at noon to find all was quite well; I could also come out to find the car sitting on a rim and the offending tire pouting and refusing to cooperate. This is bad. It is also far from ideal testing conditions. I finally decided that I had no choice so went into school and calmly took my tests (the sense of the word "calm" that means: I sweated and panicked and tried to silently bargain with the universe for the tire to be still driveable and in exchange I would check them every single day and never swear at the car again and never again spend too much money on yarn. I was desperate--you have to remember that.)

I don't know which of the things I offered did the trick, but the tire survived the morning, and it even survived the trip over to Discount Tire to have the lovely gentlemen there take a look at it for me. Whereupon I got one of those looks after explaining that "the left front tire looks a little low to me" and they guy came out and eyeballed it and said "A little? Yeah, it looks a LITTLE low to me, too." It was 16 PSI, as it turns out, which I guess doesn't stand for 16 kinds of Perfectly Sweet Internally.

Long story short (too late, I know), I spent much of the afternoon staring at back copies of Field and Stream while the tire gods (for so they've become to me, and not just because they fixed it for free, although that didn't hurt) pulled a phillips head screw out of Imelda's tire. (I can't explain why my car is Imelda...she just is.) And no one knew how to turn off the warning light so naturally I drove home explaining to Imelda that I had already taken care of the tire, that I genuinely appreciated the warning, I did, but that she no longer needed to warn me and for the love of wool stop telling me the damned tire is low and how the hell do I turn off the freaking light??? (So much for not swearing at the car. Which is okay; the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival is this weekend, and I'm pretty sure I won't stop spending too much money on yarn, either.)

I finished the crayon socks last night at Knit for Life and I was going to put up a picture...but it really does look pretty much like the other one (I think this is probably good). I'm going to stay home today (I don't have any classes on Tuesdays, and Imelda and I are taking a brief break from one another) and possibly start a mosaic sock. It looks a bit will be good for my relationship with my car for me to have something else to swear at.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

How to Treat Blog Block

Subtitle: 25 things to do rather than biting the bullet and writing in your blog when you can't think of a single clever thing to say, and you've already checked e-mail, read everyone else's blog, and sat importantly in front of the computer for half an hour.

1. Change the sheets....slowly. Encourage husband to lie on half-made bed to watch the playoff game. After all, you can't write until you're done with the bed.

2. Do a google search on sock yarn and stare longingly at forbidden pleasures (stash diet, remember).

3. Look up yarn dying on google because after all, how hard can it be? (Remind self that the phrase "how hard can it be?" is code for "I'm a complete and total idiot and deserve what is undoubtedly going to befall me.")

4. Water plants, ignoring their screams of protest (they know who has the black thumb in this house.)

5. Attempt to play with completely disinterested cat. Call him an ingrate when he yawns and goes to sleep.

6. Read entire Sunday paper, including 12 pounds of advertising. Ignore husband when he asks what in the world you could possibly want in "Tire World" circular--and why you're still staring at it 20 minutes later. Try to remember how to make hats out of newspaper.

7. Consider learning to play guitar. Remember do not have guitar.

8. Consider playing flute. Remember that, while do have flute, flute playing days are at least 20 years in the past, and no one probably wants to hear a sound like someone strangling a yak on a Sunday afternoon.

9. Pick up knitting "just for a few minutes while I think." When asked an hour later what happened to the "few minutes", wave hand dismissively while saying "It's a time-space continuum thing, unique to fast knitters. You wouldn't get it." Realize belatedly that scientist husband is unlikely to fall for this one.

10. Chocolate may help. Comb house for chocolate. Contemplate possible health risks/ick factor of eating m&m from between couch cushions. Realize that these factors are in fact somewhat affected by presence of spectators of which there are none. Eat m&m and wait for flash of brilliance.

11. Begin to plan next sock project, even though not finished with current one. Tell self this will only take five minutes and may provide blog inspiration. Laugh at self, continue anyway.

12. Channel surf to see why men like it so much. Get sucked into informercial promising thinner thighs in 2.5 seconds with no work and a diet of pure fat and sugar. Come out of trance when feel brain leaking out of ears. Turn off TV.

13. Consider painting toenails. Remember incident involving favorite fleece pants, irritated cat, half an ounce of "Seduction Red" and approximately $150 worth of assorted cleaning products. Reconsider this option.

14. Attempt to work out numerically how much healthier it is to eat baked cheese puffs that taste like styrofoam packing peanuts than it is to eat cheetos. Realize that should have paid attention more in last algebra class. Eat the styrofoam, wish for the cheetos.

15. Decide to make Broadripple socks for mother as next project. Spend 20 minutes searching for dpns in the right size. Spend 20 more picking up and putting away 736 assorted needles that are NOT the right size.

16. Examine current sweater project for the 128th time to see if really, REALLY like it enough to continue. Find camera and take picture after fiddling around with lighting and contrast and so forth as if actually had even a passing understanding of any of it.

17. See how long it takes to eat a gummi bear by just sucking on it. Realize can still vividly remember Tootsie Pop commercial about "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" (you know, the one with the little boy and the owl.) Realize how terribly old this makes me.

18. Wonder why people always call owls wise, but no other animal. You never hear anyone saying they should consult the wise old wombat.

19. Consider dinner party. Plan elaborate menu, down to dessert of individual chocolate lava cakes in little ramekins. Remember do not have ramekins. Remember do not like parties. Give this idea up.

20. Bring husband a Pepsi in his shop. Amuse him with entertaining anecdotes until realizing that his eyes have glazed over and he is drooling the Pepsi. Decide to be merciful and leave him alone.

21. Sort sock drawer. Realize that 41 is probably too old to have socks with otters on them. Wonder why do not have cow socks. Wonder how hard it would be to knit cow socks. Consider that cows are way more mature than otters so can wear at 41.

22. Consider teaching a class on rationalization, seeing as apparently have natural talent.

23. Unravel lavender thrift store sweater (wool, cashmere, angora blend) from stash. Pet it while thinking of blog ideas. Realize that probably look like villain in old spy movie only with lavender yarn instead of cat. Decide that this is at least somewhat cool.

24. Look for perfect pattern for lavender fingerless mitts. Add this to truly dizzying list of "knits to do". Think, not for the first time, that knitting may very well be an illness.

25. Remember have chemistry test and A & P quiz tomorrow. Begin full-scale panic as suddenly cannot recall a single part of the heart which actually knew quite well yesterday. Ponder the intricacies of the 41-year old brain. Consider getting one. Until then, read class notes about the heart.

There may be some sort of clue in here as to why I've never written a novel.....will avoid writing tomorrow by considering this.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Teeny Tiny Donuts and the Bloggers Who Love Them

Mr. K and I decided today that we had been too much indoors. It's easy to do during any Seattle winter--the skies stay mostly gray and rainy, the streets stay wet and dirty and, even though it isn't cold, the wet starts to just seep into you. And this winter with its ice and snow and tree throwing-well, let's just say that a person might be forgiven for growing a taproot that goes through the couch right into the floor (but thankfully has enough slack to reach the yarn stash). Realizing that we were both beginning to develop something akin to prison pallor, we planned an adventure.

The first part of the adventure was the University of Washington auction, held several times per year, and somehow attracting a multitude of folks who simply can't resist the call of an entire pallet of computers without hard drives or a dentist's chair or an infant incubator (nope, not kidding. They really auction that stuff off...along with equipment for glass blowing, milling machines--if the U used it, you can probably bid on it). Mr. K can resist most of that stuff, but the milling machine was calling his name, so we went there first. Having never been to a live auction, I sat in my chair like a mannequin, convinced that just scratching my nose would end up making us the proud owners of half a dozen lap top computers without keyboards. Mostly, I stared at the floor, just in case. The milling machine went for about $1800 which was more than we wanted to pay, so we headed out.

(I did wonder, though, what a knitters auction would look like. I mean, knitters are without a doubt the nicest, most unselfish group of people I've ever met. Forget cutthroat bidding--I can see it now:
"Well, I was going to bid higher...but what were you going to use the item for? I mean, I like it and all, but if you already have a plan for it, you should have it!" or "Yes, I won this entire pallet of yarn-- but you tried so hard for it. Let's just share it." You know, I can totally see myself doing that. Now if I can just find an auction with pallets of Mountain Colors yarn.)

We stopped at Weaving Works yarn store where I petted and oohed and aahed and generally drove the shopkeepers nuts...but stayed firmly on the wagon. Okay, so if the brilliantly dyed Collinette sock yarn had had just a few more yards for the $20.50 price tag I would have actually nose dived right off said wagon...but c'mon. We can at least PRETEND that I have real self control. Oh, and we can also overlook the fact that I have planned a serious face plant off the wagon next weekend in honor of the Madrona Fiber Festival. (Remember, I did allow myself 2 - 3 mulligans.....and don't you love how I put "2 - 3", like I'd really stop at 2 if 3 were an I actually kidding any of you? No, I thought not.)

From there we went to the Pike Place Market and here I planned to have absolutely scads (which I believe is slightly more than an assload) of stunning pictures of our market and our Sound (Puget Sound, for the unitiated) and the big brass pig in the market and oh--just everything. But here's the thing: remember when Martha said to be sure your colander has holes in the bottom? brain apparently has plenty because the idea of bringing the camera fell right out. Rolled across the floor and is currently languising under the bed with the dust bunnies. Or dust gorillas, possibly. I'm not all that obsessive about cleaning under things. No camera.

Here is where I'd have put the photo of all the silver fish gleaming on ice at the market where the guys throw them to one another as they prepare your order. I don't eat fish and the smell kind of gags me...but the sight is pretty awesome and anyway, I think it's against the law to live in Seattle and not think the fish guys are cool. I don't even like to tell natives that I don't eat the fish.....a girl could get run out of town for a thing like that. Thank goodness I drink the coffee.

Here is where I would put the picture down the length of the market where the vendors sell all manner of things--from huge, bright colored fruit and vegetables to lavender honey to rocks etched with inspirational words to coarse woolen knits from Norway to Marionberry and Jalapeno jelly to...well, almost anything you can think of. And it's always crowded. I don't know how this works, quite, but no matter which way I walk down that passageway, I'm always swimming upstream. (See, I can talk the talk...just can't eat the little buggers.)

Here would be the photo off the pier, with the thin January sun lancing off the water as the ferry glides by...and that one seagull who watched us for the longest time, standing on one leg as he tucked the other up against his belly to keep it warm. It's chilly down by the water, and my eyes watered a bit in the wind but it's the same Seattle that called me to live here--all colors and sounds and that water lapping softly against the pier.

And here is the donut place. Now, I don't normally eat donuts and I wouldn't generally think of them as nectar of the wool gods or anything. But these...well...these are to donuts as cheap acrylic is to cashmere. Truly. See, there's this machine that was actually built in Seattle and it's been there forever in the market, turning out tiny, miniature donuts behind a plexiglass screen so you can watch the dough make it's way from the batter bowl to hot oil to the pans. The line, incredibly, stretches all the way down the length of the booth to and past the end of the next one. It's that way every time I go past, never seeming to shorten. Eventually, I can't stand it and I wait in line until I can finally collect my treasure: a fragrant, brown paper bag into which the man has tossed a dozen (they really are tiny--I'm talking no more than 2 bites) fresh, hot donuts and then sprinkled in a generous amount of cinnamon sugar. He shakes it once and hands it to me and those donuts....oh, those donuts. They melt in your mouth. It's like being a kid again. Bet you didn't know we had a fountain of youth here but I swear--if you can eat these and not run around gleefully with sugar around your mouth and a goofy smile, well, then I just don't know about you. (And I did share them with Mr. K....I thought that better than just taping the damned things to my ass, which is where they surely would have ended up.)

Oh, and we stopped here, too: The Crumpet Shop. And no, we didn't eat our way through the city or anything...but you just HAVE to go to the Crumpet Shop. They sell real English crumpets (and I know because I lived in England briefly and I've had the real deal--and these are them) which they serve in a stunning variety of ways. Truly, this is where the similarity to their British cousins vanishes because although you can get them with jam or marmalade as is appropriate, you can also get them with ricotta cheese and smoked salmon, English cheese, tomato and cucumber, green eggs and ham (eggs cooked with pesto), cream cheese with maple butter and walnuts, peanut butter, nutella--you name it. They also sell divine chicken sandwiches on Scottish groat bread and you can actually buy real quality tea there as well as dear little teapots that are so round you want to pet them. Or cuddle them. Or something. I was kind of enjoying my city may have made me a bit weird. (Okay, okay--weirder.)

I hung around the booth for the Sequim Lavender growers until I think they wanted to banish me and I smelled everything (I'm pretty sure I didn't get snot on anything...they didn't make me buy anything, in any case) and I listened to street musicians (there are always tons of them, even when it's cold) and I remembered how it was that Seattle seduced me over the mountains to live here.

I forgive her for throwing trees. This time.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Random Friday

Dissecting a cow's heart is no way to finish a week, and it is both fascinating and gross. Heavy on the gross.

If your lab instructor insists (as mine does) on using fresh, unpreserved specimans, it can be helpful to choose a lab partner who wears strong fragrance of some kind. If she's shorter than you, strong scented hair gel is good enough, as long as you can sort of keep it between you and the hunk of dead animal you're being asked to carve up.

When using your lab partner's hair as an antidote to the scent of aging cow heart, it is wise to be surreptitious. People look at you funny if they suddenly catch you smelling their hair. Go figure.

The phrase "Hey, look, I found something cool" when uttered anywhere else in the lab is code for one of these things: a) "I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking at and I'm hoping the instructor will come tell me" b)"I'm having as much fun as a 9-year-old boy with a booger fascination and I'm doing absolutely nothing scientific but it is rewardingly disgusting or c) "I just filled the chambers of my cow heart with water and I'm about to squeeze it to watch how the blood would flow but I have completely forgotten about the teacher's advice to 'squeeze gently' so will be getting a face full of nasty water in about 5 seconds". This last, at least, has the potential to be long as it isn't your lab partner.

I was at the grocery store and I stopped to pick up refills for my plug-in air freshener and happened to notice one labelled "Dual Scented". Only I could have sworn that it said "Dude Scented." I wondered if it smelled like a sweaty guy (which could be okay or horrid but most likely would fall somewhere close to the horrid end of things and hence would only be useful at all if you had something that smelled even worse to deal with) or if it smelled like things guys like. I'm trying to imagine a "Beer and Pizza" air freshener. Or, in the case of my metalworking husband (he makes knives as a hobby), "Hot Metal and Sawdust".

People look at you funny if you start giggling for no apparent reason in the air freshener aisle at Safeway.

Mr. K did mention once that he wondered why women always wore perfume scented like flowers and citrus and green tea when none of those fragrances were of particular interest to men. Which led me to a mental picture of a husband coming home and hugging his wife, then stepping back to say "Wow, you look great tonight, Honey. And is that 30-weight Motor Oil you're wearing? Nice."

There have been a number of scientists over the centuries whose primary research target seems to have been the creation of an assortment of things for me to memorize. I think they got some kind of prize if they could make it really weird and have multiple points to it.

I learned three different ways to write down the electron structure of an atom today....and no one I've eagerly told about it seems to care.

The folks at the bank look at you funny if you start making Lewis Dot Diagrams on your deposit slip and trying to explain how it works.

There is no day so good or so bad that it cannot be improved by the wearing of a bright pair of handmade socks. However, people look at you funny when you suddenly take off your boots with the statement "Hey, you wanna see something kinda cool?" Some of them are quite disappointed when it turns out not to be a bunion the size of Cleveland.

If it's a "Scholarship Program", how come no Miss America has ever had a big tush and bad skin? And how, exactly, does learning to walk in a bathing suit and high heels show her preparedness for college (I mean, besides the obvious fact that it shows great self control to walk all the way across the stage and back off again before pulling the damned bathing suit out of the crack of your ass)?

They call them "civil servants" but just see how civil the police officer who pulls you over is when you ask him to serve you something or vacuum your car out.

At 41 years old, you'd think I'd have more sophisticated tastes than "I can't wait to get home and eat a tablespoon of peanut butter right out of the jar." You'd be mistaken.

I'm delighted that my biology 212 teacher is so excited about his subject...but you'd think he'd start to realize something was wrong with the heat when the entire classroom started trying to take notes while wearing mittens. You'd be mistaken there, too.

Naps are wasted on the young. They should be saved for the 41-year-olds with furry alarm clocks that are pointy on one end and perpetually set for 4:25am.

If my husband could figure out a way to take coffee intravenously instead of having to get up and pour it in a cup, I believe he would probably stay in bed about an hour longer. Don't think he isn't working on this fairly energetically.

If I had to bathe with my tongue like Ed does, I'd spend a lot of time in the rain. A LOT of time.

It is the beginning of another weekend. Spend it which I mean, knit like crazy.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Conversations With Ed

From this title, it would be understandable if one were to draw the conclusion that the cheese has, at last, slipped all the way off Ms. Knitingale's cracker. And this is not impossible...Ms. Knitingale is forced to admit that said cheese may have been a bit precariously balanced to begin with. But no, this title refers to the things I rather imagine Ed, a highly vocal kitty, to be saying. Because I'm a little weird and I tend to anthropomorphize my critters, and because it's my blog and I can do all kinds of crazy stuff if I want to. Bwa-ha-ha-ha.....

It is early morning--like, 5:30 early. Ed has eaten breakfast and is now following me around the kitchen, apparently with something terribly important to tell me.
Me: "Ed, what do you want? You already had breakfast."
Ed: "Well, I can't help noticing that you have a half pound of deli turkey in the fridge. And, you know, I'd really like to help you out with that."
Me: "Ed, you're not getting turkey. Give it up."
Ed: "No, seriously, it would be a help to you. You're never going to eat all that."
Me: "Look, I know you love turkey and all, but no. Here, try some of these cat treats."
Ed(incredulously): "CAT treats? Are you mad, Woman? You think a cat of my quality can be seduced by little nuggets of petrified cow snot and chicken lips? Please."
Me: "Chickens don't have lips, Ed. And it says right on the box that these are yummy and nutritious."
Ed (clearly affronted): "If they're so yummy, why don't you eat them and give me the turkey? I can't BELIEVE you would treat a faithful friend in this fashion."
Me: "Look, you're not getting the turkey. I'm putting some cat treats on the floor. You can eat them or not."
Ed: "Not. And a pox upon you for even asking."
Me: "Up to you. But quit whining about it."
(brief pause here)

Ed (urgently): "Lady! LADY! Gussie just ate all my cat treats! She didn't even leave me one!"
Me: "I thought you didn't want them."
Ed: "I do! I mean...I don't, of course. But I don't want her to have them!"
Me: "Sorry, Ed. You snooze, you lose. Suck it up, Big Guy."
Ed: "You know, I can't help but notice you have a half a pound of deli turkey in the fridge...."
Me: "Damnit, Ed--you're NOT getting turkey. Now quit bugging me."
Ed: "........"
Ed: "I noticed you have some ham in the fridge....."
Ed: "Hey, do that again! It makes that little thing in the back of your throat dance! Humans are just SO interesting!"
And so it goes. And then he has the nerve to look like this:

"Turkey? What turkey? No, of course I don't want any. That would be wrong of me. I'm perfectly happy with the cow snot I get given." (Please note the not-inconsiderable dent in the couch cushion which is precisely the shape of Ed's also not-inconsiderable ass.)
Hey, I finished the first crayon sock:
Complete with red heel:

I even cast on for the second one and finished the ribbing last night while watching CSI (because, again, my life is such a fabulous whirl). I so want to be Katherine Willows. She's tough, she's smart, she knows how to pole dance (okay, so I don't really want to pole dance...and the folks at the strip clubs really don't want me to, either....but I'd love to be able to say that I could and be all casual and hot about it like she is), and she has a killer body.
And I'll bet her cat doesn't give her all that crap, either.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

And Now, A Happier Story

You were all so kind to put up with and even help console me through my blue Tuesday--I'm being honest when I say it was the best medicine ever. I love you guys like crazy. By way of thanks, I offer a happy, positive story:

I grew up at Diamond Lake, a little (then, anyway) community out in Eastern Washington. We had lakeside property but we weren't rich; it was just way out in the boonies. I don't even think we had a street address. Anyway, my mother was afraid of the water, but liked to go down and lie in the sun every day, all summer long (somewhat determined to grow old looking like a baseball mitt with eyes, was my mother...still is, if it comes to that). I did not know how to swim and this was before the invention of water wings (the first person who points out that it was before the invention of a whole lot of things...well, I'll sic Ed on you. He might just drool you to death.) but I liked to play in the lake so I had an oval of thick styrofoam (like 3 inches thick) that sat on my back, and was held in place by a strap around my middle. I looked like a preteen mutant styro turtle. Seriously. I called it "my float."

I had some stepsiblings, briefly, and one of my older stepsisters tried gamely to teach me to swim. I should point out here, that this was a marvelous lake. It had a dense, muddy bottom that would probably gross the adult me out just a bit, but delighted the child me to no end. I could step in and sink to my knees! It housed trout and frogs and tons of lily pads which bloomed every single year in a profusion of yellow that never stopped amazing me. Which has this to do with the swim lesson: my stepsister held me at the dock while I held on with my hands and kicked my legs and all was going quite well...until a HUGE bullfrog made an appearance directly under my left arm. I screamed so loud that I'm fairly certain there was a deaf bullfrog making the rounds at that lake for years to come. That was the end of that lesson.

Between my mother's fear of the water, and the bullfrog's apparent attempt to eat my armpit (don't could happen....), I resolved never to learn to swim and that float became my constant summertime companion...never mind that I looked like a bikini-clad soapdish. With a belt. But, like most kids, I really wanted to be like my mom so I often tried to lay perfectly still in the sand, just like she did. Of course, I had oodles of 5-year-old energy so this worked about as well as knitting with a piece of cooked spaghetti...but I tried anyway. (I keep saying it: knitters are optimists even before they're knitters.) On one such day, my mother was laying on her back so I decided to do the same. To do this without ending up in a strange sort of crab pose, I had to take off the float, which I did. Then, I suspect I may have drifted off a bit in the sun. It's the only explanation I can come up with for what happened next:

My other stepsister got up and called to me as she ran to the water. She wanted to race me to the end of the dock. I ran for the water and was halfway to the end (ahead of my sister, I might add) when my mother spotted me. I can still see her, one hand holding up her untied top, the other shielding her eyes as she shouted "Hey, Flo! Good for you--you're swimming without your float!!"


Whereupon I promptly sank to the bottom of the lake and scraped my knee on a sharp rock buried in the mud. Because, of course, I hadn't realized I didn't have the float. It all has a happy ending, though. My mother wisely paid LOTS of attention to my "learning to swim" (we celebrated with lime Kool-aid and cookies--I had a green mustache all day) and forbade me to bring along the float after that because she knew I didn't need it. And, indeed, I do swim quite well to this day. Without the turtle shell on a belt.

The point of which is to say that that is the first time I remember really understanding that you can do exactly what you believe you can do. And not one damned thing you don't. I found the same thing when I started knitting with a book and a pattern and not a soul to show me how it was done. The first thing I made was a complicated baby outfit (with Intarsia!) because I didn't know it was it wasn't. And it turned out just fine. Not perfect, but fine.

Which is, I rather imagine, how this stage of my life will turn out: exactly as wonderful (or not) as I think it will (or won't). Damn. Doncha just hate it when you accidentally force yourself out of your perfectly safe little cave of fear and despair with logic? Ruins an otherwise excellent sulk.

And, because I have led you to expect funny things from my blog, I offer this story, which had me howling: I am taking an online English class. Every week I have to take an online quiz that usually consists of picking the best of two sentences or words. One of the questions today was to pick the best of the two bolded words for this sentence: "It was hard to hear in the church because of the awful aucoustics/agnostics." I'm still chuckling over that one.

Happy midweek to one and all (even all you awful agnostics). I wonder what you'd do if no one told you you couldn't?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On Being Kept

It will come as no surprise to those who know me well that I do not believe I have much of a future as a "kept woman". For one thing, I don't own a pair of those fluffy, high-heeled, backless slippers that such women wear in movies and, if I did, I feel certain that falling down the stairs is probably not all that sexy. I also do not know how to make a martini (and the man keeping me, i.e. Mr. K, doesn't like them anyway), I get too cold to lounge around in a sheer peignor (and I feel that the cat snags that such a garment would inevitably collect in my house are probably also not so sexy), and I've never been able to figure out how to take a bubble bath while looking alluring (generally I just get bubbles up my nose and knock the candles over and terrify the cat so she falls in the water). Mostly, though, it's this whole dependence thing.

See, I worked full-time for most of my adult life. And, because I'm a caregiver, all of those jobs (teacher, medical assistant, childcare director) were of the sort where running around frantically from crisis to crisis and very occasionally actually having time to pee was the norm--even expected. I'm pretty sure that no one doing those jobs ever gets a raise if they haven't pulled out most of their own hair in desperation at some point. So, I kinda figured that going to school full-time and not working would adjustment. A bit of one. And it is--you know, like a 7.8 earthquake is a little adjustment of tectonic's that kind of adjustment.

Most days I'm able to remember that I'm working towards a goal for both my husband and myself, and it's an honorable one, and so on and so on and so on and today isn't one of those days. Can you tell? It might have something to do with the fact that, between the weather and the holiday I haven't had any classes for nearly a week. I've not only done my homework, I've read the entire textbook for both on-site classes. I've knitted Dulaan hats. I've laundered every piece of clothing in the house that I could get my hands on (Mr. K would really appreciate it, though, if I waited for him to take them off next time. Big baby.) I am frightened of the fact that the following things are starting to sound good to me:

Organizing my spices alphabetically
Cleaning the grout with a toothbrush
Knitting foot warmers for the outdoor cats
Lying in front of the fire with Ed just to see if it's as good as he claims.

I've become so excited to see the mailman that I think he's going to start delivering my mail by catapault so he doesn't have to talk to me. I think I heard him mutter something the other day about wishing this house had a vicious dog instead of a crazy lady.

All of which leads to this: I had absolutely no idea how deeply ingrained in me was the idea that my value as a person stems from what I do, from my career, from my ability to offer some sort of proof that I'm earning my way in the world. I'm sure this is a growth experience for me, and that I'll somehow come out of it a stronger, better person or some other such happy crappy that people say when they really don't have the faintest idea how it feels but really want you to stop whining about it. Hell, I want me to stop whining about it. But I'm 41 years old and I'm suddenly not entirely sure who I am. I mean, I'm not crazy--I know who I am in literal terms. But the ephemeral stuff....what I present to people, what I contribute, what value I give back to the world...well, all that stuff's a bit up in the air. And I really suck at "up in the air." Ask anyone who's ever met me.

I didn't mean to get so deep today...but I think it's these feelings that are currently holding my writing muse--and my wit--in a stranglehold. This feeling that I should be doing more--hell, should be more. Because, what am I if I'm not holding the pain or lessening the burden for another person? I'm amazed to find that I don't know.

I saw a bumper sticker recently that summed this up quite well. It said "Oh, no. Another growth opportunity." And so it is, in the end. I need to pull up my big girl panties and deal with it. My thanks to all of you for putting up with my outpouring of angst. It helps to write it down. In the end, I do realize how very lucky I am. I have a great husband, I have a great opportunity, and I have you guys. That's all good stuff.

Time to go alphabetize those spices.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturated Fats and Cows in Hats

I'm so sorry....a rogue Dr. Suess gene must have taken over for a moment. But still, I do have photos of both abovementioned items--saturated fats:

(the cookies I made yesterday, although I generally refer to them as something a bit more appetizing than "saturated fats" when serving them to friends....) and cows in hats:

These are the Dulaan hats, more than slightly improved by the purchase of a Susan Bates pompom maker. The models, clearly needing to grow their heads if hat modeling is to be any sort of reliable career for them, are in fact so small-headed now as to render the hats blindfolds, I know, but you can kind of get the idea of how they're supposed to look (besides which, it's funny to take pictures of stuffed cows in big hats.) The purple hat has a k2p2 rib edging which I folded up (so the cow could see, of course); the pink hat has a rolled brim and is so soft I want to roll in it (which I won't because...well...eww. Who wants a rolled in hat, no matter how cold it is?)

That was my day; how was yours? The temperature is still in the 20's, which converts on the Ms. K scale to "Oh my god I'm going to freeze my dainties off if it doesn't warm up." I huddled in the house and watched football and made a hat. My life is a glittering whirl, isn't it?

Because I like background noise when I'm knitting, particularly when knitting a stockinette hat in the round for HOURS after the game is over and my brain is in danger of becoming numb, I turned on the TV....which actually hastened the numbing process considerably, and led me to this:

Dear TV Producers:

First off, thank you so much for the huge number of options available to me on your fine stations. Truly, it now takes me at least twice as long as it used to realize that there is nothing on except assorted varieties of, fine programming....something like that. As much as I am certain that you all possess skills and education and experience far surpassing my own in the matters of public entertainment, I would still respectfully like to offer just a few suggestions. For instance:

1. I'm smarter than I look. Really. I know that I don't necessarily look like a Rhodes scholar when sitting on the sofa surrounded by fuzzy yarn bits, swearing colorfully at a mangy looking pompom, but you can take my word for it. I do not believe that 30-year-olds can pass for 16, that all crimes are solved within an hour, that all mothers look like models about 5 minutes after giving birth, or that anyone at all can clean the toilet while still having perfect hair and nails and while dressed in designer jeans. Call me a prodigy, but I see through these things.

2. Whatever genius came up with "Surreal Life" needs to go have a lie down. The premise--taking a bunch of has-been actors and putting them in a house to have an assortment of zany adventures--is based on a particularly noticeable logical fallacy. That is, they're has-beens because no one cares to watch them even when they're doing something interesting. Living in the same house and bitching a lot doesn't really count as interesting.

3. I don't know when people yelling at one another started to pass for entertainment...but honestly. I've left relationships over precisely that sort of thing. I don't really want to watch other people do it.

4. Women can be dressed as something other than prostitutes and still be interesting. Please stop taking advice on that matter from the designers of Barbie.

5. During the last few days of being housebound, I have managed to change channels onto the same few shows so many times that I was starting to think I was in my own personal version of "Groundhog Day". If it was lame the first 12 times, it probably is the 27th as well. And if it wasn't, trust me--it will start to become so.

6. It is not a crime to put thought provoking things on television.

7. Sensationalism sells--I realize this. But the show "Mega Disasters" that was on the history channel yesterday might just as well have been titled "We're all going to die, feel free to panic." Can we present science without trying to scare the crap out of people? Please?

8. For that matter, several shows seem to be incorrectly titled. For instance, "America's Next Top Model" really ought to be called "Snotty Teenagers Under Pressure"; "COPS" (which I swear to wool I have not watched in many years) could easily be "Dumbass Criminals Making Even Bigger Asses of Themselves" (and by the way, am I the only one amazed that some of those people actually gave PERMISSION for that footage to be used? Seriously, what do they have to be caught doing in order to say something like "No, I don't really think everyone needs to see me rolling around drunk on the lawn with my pants down"?), and "Top Chef" could be called "Bitchy Cooks Who Really Ought Not to Have Sharp Things."

9. Being a bitch is not a good enough reason to be famous. Neither is it a good premise for an entire TV show.

10. Ditto with big boobs.

11. You can tune in almost any time of day to find real life stories of women getting "improved" with hours of plastic surgery to breasts and thighs and bellies and so on. Do you guys all hate women or what?

12. I don't care what Rosie O'Donnell thinks of Donald Trump or vice versa. I never will no matter how many times you show the interviews and clips.

13. The word "heroic" gets bandied about a lot. Can we reserve it for people who have stood up to fear and danger in order to help someone else--and not an actress who lost a bunch of weight and got her boobs done when her husband left her (with two houses and $100,000 a month in alimony)?

Thank you for your attention to these matters. I realize that showing restraint is tricky business, but I believe that quality entertainment is worth it. And no, I am not including a picture of my boobs and I do not wish to be on a program wherein I wrestle a top female TV producer in a vat of jello. No, not even lime.


Ms. F. Knitingale

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stupid Things I Did Today

Okay, so it's still as cold as a well digger's undercarriage around these parts (okay, Rabbitch, so it probably isn't THAT cold....then again, perhaps I have a particularly sensitive welldigger....and undercarriage, too, for that matter. It's gotta be that. It can't be that I'm a giant puss when it comes to the cold. Right?) and the state patrol is still getting on the news to look young and earnest and advise people to use caution, while showing footage of asses even dumber than myself sliding their cars down icy streets on the wrong side of signs that say "road closed." So. Naturally it came to Mr. K that we should get in the truck and drive up to Everett (30 or so miles north of us?) so he could go to a tool store that he likes there. This worried me a tad, but he was sure it was safe (don't worry--this doesn't end badly) and asked me to go with him. Which I did....not because I truly believe that my presence will prevent bad things from happening to him but, rather, because I will at least find out about the bad things sooner and thus shorten my worrying time considerably. I'm nothing if not efficient.

So we got in the truck and I brought along some knitting and was knitting happily along about halfway to Everett when it dawned on me: I was worried about the possibility of a car accident, so I brought along and was holding in my hands not one, not two, but FIVE pointy sticks. And not just pointy sticks--sticks with points on each end. Because, God knows, if you're going to get in a car accident, you really want to increase your chances of putting an eye out as much as possible. I'm an idiot. I threw caution to the winds, however, and accomplished this much (hopefully) improved ugly sock:

Now, I realize that many of you have tastes far surpassing the aforementioned deranged magpie that inspired mine, but I do think this is better than its predecessor. And hey--if you wore these and it got dark and you didn't have a light, you'd only need to pull up a pant leg. I'm not totally sure they glow in the dark, but they certainly look as if they might absorb all light within a two block radius, don't they?

Monica, I tried to get Ed to pose with it for you, but he evidently also has better taste than I do:

No, he is NOT barfing down the back of the couch...

Anyway, we completed the trip with no incidents, in spite of the serious mental alteration that might have resulted from my standing around Harbor Freight Tools inhaling all that testosterone. (Although, come to think of it, I've had a mysterious urge to scratch my privates and spit ever you suppose there's a connection?)

I did not, alas, get to make the anatomically correct snow angels (perhaps I should have taken advantage of the testosterone overdose, though....those could have been really interesting snow angels...) but I did make cookies. I cheated a bit and used a recipe I already invented some time ago, but that's what I craved so there you are. I call them Ms. K's Cardiac Arrest Peanut Butter Bars. I will assure you right up front that they are not healthy. They are not one bit healthy. I believe you need to provide a note from a cardiologist in order to eat them legally. But they definitely soothe the soul of the partially housebound knitter and this is my blog so I get to dispense recipes for the most unhealthy food in the world if I want to. They're chilling right now, so I don't have a picture of them cut (which is really how they look the best) but this is them before they went into the fridge (the lumps are chopped peanuts...we only had chunky peanut butter):

I usually make the larger pan of these but Mr. K doesn't care for them. And it's not that I couldn't eat the bigger pan--rather, it's precisely because I COULD eat the bigger pan that I opted for this smaller one.

Okay, so this is a serious fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants recipe. I whipped it up and do a lot of it by "feel" and so on. Don't let this scare you. There's no chemistry involved--it will not fail if you don't get it all exactly right. There IS no exactly right. Trust me. You start by lining a pan with foil unless you are less lazy than Ms. Knitingale...but I suggest doing it even if you are. These are kinda messy. This is an 8x8 pan; put about 3/4 stick of butter in it. (Remember: Weight Watchers has never asked me to be their spokesperson. There is a reason for this, and it is most assuredly not that I am too skilled in the art of eating healthy. Keep this in mind.) Stick it in the oven to melt (350 is good) and, while it's melting, make some kind of cookie crumbs (chocolate wafers, vanilla wafers--whatever tickles your fancy). You're going to make a cookie crust...for cookies. Kind of like the cookie crust on a pie. The amount of cookie crumbs should be enough to cover the bottom of the pan without gaps. (It's not science--it can be thicker or thinner and it won't hurt them at all. I just throw a handful of cookies in a bag and hammer the crap out of them and stir them into the butter and see if it's enough.) Mix the crumbs with the melted butter with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Add more crumbs if necessary (making sure to mix them until moist) to cover bottom of pan evenly and press it down. Bake for ten minutes. While that's baking, put 1 stick of butter and 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter in a bowl. Beat it with a mixer until it becomes smooth and paler than when it started. Add about half a teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in about half a cup of powdered sugar and then enough graham cracker crumbs (a cup is a good start) so that it's stiff enough to handle (but not all the way to playdoh). Add crumbs as needed if it's not stiff enough. (The Viagra joke here would be too easy, wouldn't it?) Again, how thick to make it is only a matter of taste. If it's thinner than you want it, add more crumbs. Easy. When the crust is done, take it out of the oven and gently put the peanut butter stuff on it. There will be plenty, and it will be tall. Worry not. Get the top as level as you can but don't lose sleep over it. Now put about half a bag of chocolate chips (milk or dark--your choice, but I prefer milk) in a bowl with a tablespoon of peanut butter and melt it in the microwave. Stir until blended and spread over peanut butter mixture. Chill until set. Allow one-eyed black and white cat to lick peanut butter off hands because she is truly the weirdest cat in the world and absolutely loves it. Wash hands because loving cats does not make cat spit an any more pleasant fragrance. Cut cookies into bars and enjoy. Plan lots of situps for the associated guilt. I'll put up a picture of the finished cookie bars tomorrow when I can cut them. If you can resist at that point, it's out of my hands.

I saw a plaque the other day that asked "What if remembering to get the laundry out of the washer before mildew sets in is really all there is to success?" Which suggests that I'd best go put the laundry into the dryer before my success is threatened. Before I do, however, I'll leave you with a photo of the cat who didn't turn her back on me (largely because she was afraid I'd take back the office chair...which I did):