The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm No Expert, But.....

...I'm pretty sure that this just ain't right. I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that--whether it's the sock that's not right, or the giggling person with the camera and the filthy mind....but one of us is definitely off.

In truth, I still pretty much like the sock and, if I don't, I feel certain it would find a good home with Marianne, who already loves it (although she may change her mind when she sees what it's been up to since she saw it last). And it really does fit, even though it appears that it might not fit.....well, a foot, exactly. The stitch pattern pulls it in quite enthusiastically and I keep trying it on, certain that this time it will induce gangrenous toes, but no. It keeps cheerfully stretching out over my foot and leg. It may be a nasty little bugger, but it's happy about it. I'll turn the heel tonight and see if I still like it, or if it's going to pack its bags and go live with Marianne.

It rained here today (which explains the progress on, yes, it's a sock) and, while only a week ago I was quite weary of the sogginess, today I all but rolled around in the wet grass and whinnied, for the sheer joy of knowing that I could not do any yard work today (and would, instead, be limited to yarn work). It will likely make the damned grass grow again but, on the bright side, it may also drown the rhubarb, so I'm good with that. Which reminds me--a thank you to all of you who kindly sent me recipes with the idea of transforming the rhubarb into something that passes for edible. Since I have an idea that it probably WON'T drown (hell, the stuff could probably withstand a nuclear bomb), I will definitely give your ideas a try. I think it's rather like putting lipstick on a pig but don't ever say I won't give a thing a try. Besides, I imagine even pigs like to feel pretty once in awhile.

Meanwhile, the outdoor fur people have mostly migrated inside:

where I rather suspect they're dreaming of dominion over the thumbless ones, and wondering how to work the can opener. (I can't recall where I read the phrase "thumbless ones" but it's had me in stitches ever since. If it was you, sing out so I can bow down at your feet.) Miss is also nestled quite handily in my knitting spot where she has apparently grown a taproot.

In other words, in this entire day at Asylum du Knitingale, none of the following things have happened:

Nothing has blown up
Nothing has spewed any sort of foul substance
Nothing has bitten or stung me
Nothing has become embedded in my skin
Nothing has leaped from my hands to commit glassy sepaku on the kitchen floor
I have not fallen down OR up the stairs
No data has been irretrievably lost
I have not stepped in stain and had to hop around frantically so as not to get it on the off-white carpet (that would have left it WAAAAAY off white)
I have not polyurethaned the door and then immediately pushed it closed by placing my hand directly on the sticky surface
I have not somehow wrapped myself or a cat in blue painters tape
I have not failed to empty the lint trap in the dryer until it was forced to make itself a little lint quilt
I have not run into a spider swinging gleefully from a tree in tarzanlike fashion and hoping to land on my face and in order to induce screaming.
I have not washed Mr. K's unmentionables with the red towels, thus making them even less mentionable
I have not set fire to anything whatsoever
I have not had to fish around in the garbage disposal for a fork or spoon
I have not eaten my weight in gummi bears (let's leave chocolate out of this for the moment, though, 'kay?)
I have not dropped my keys in the recycle bin
I have not dropped the litterbox cleanings in the recycle bin
I have not in any way antagonized the recycle bin
I have not worn two different colored shoes
I have not giggled madly at the sight of a molehill at the foot of a tree, due to the rather cartoonish picture of a mole tunneling at high speed into the tree trunk and emerging with a lump on its head and a bunch of stars and tweeting birds circling around it
I have not gone to the store hungry and purchased $47 worth of snack food when I actually went in to buy conditioner
I have not harassed the lady at the LYS with the desperate plea to let me work for yarn
I have not encountered a single whacked animal in the garage or on the porch
I have not called anyone and said "Um.....I'm sorry, who have I just called?"
I have not attempted to substitute m & m's for any meal

In other words, it has been a quiet day in which the most unusual thing that's happened is that I've made a rude and amusing sock.....and I'm deeply concerned. I think the universe is trying to lull me into a false sense of security. Watch for mushroom clouds over my house tomorrow. This much peace and quiet can only be a ploy.

p.s. although nothing on that list happened can be assured that nearly all of them have, in fact, happened to me at one time or another. Especially the m & m thing.

p.p.s. I discovered the British Pantry, not four miles from my home. Dudes....those little Galaxy caramel eggs? You guys are SO responsible for the size of my ass.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Fun Just Keeps on Coming

The sun came out today, for real. It was round and yellow and really quite nice, if unfamiliar. And since it made the grass closer to dry than it's been in about 6 months, well, it made sense to take the moment and mow the lawn. I feel certain that any number of sad stories have started in much this same fashion.

I started by dragging out the walk-behind mower to the edges and other areas that are reluctant to surrender themselves to the riding mower; Mr. K took the rider on a quick tour around the yard to see that it was working okay. The birds were singing, the squirrels were capering (whatever capering might be...I'm pretty sure they were doing it, though) and all was right with the world. Which is code, of course, for "please break all hell loose approximately here."

As I returned to the back yard to put away the mower I was using, I came across Mr. K and the rider, its hood open and shamelessly exposing its inner workings. Naturally, I asked Mr. K what the problem might be. There are times in life when words are inadequate to the task of describing a thing; apparently this was such a time because he responded by turning on the motor. What ensued looked more than anything like one of those fancy fountains you see at really pricey wedding receptions....only with oil instead of champagne, spurting from the crankcase instead of champagne glasses. And it was squirting upward with a bit more vigor. It was impressive.

Now, I will admit that I am not particularly mechanically inclined, in much the way that a barbecue is not particularly a space shuttle...but it seemed to me that this could not be a good thing. Mr. K confirmed that for me. Oil fountains = not good (unless you're at a wedding reception for a pair of really dedicated mechanics. Then they're okay.)

Because he is a wonderful man, Mr. K messed around with the thing for a time, first discarding the oil soaked air filter that was now working as a means of causing the engine to stop running ("don't worry--it operates FINE without an air filter!"), and then adding oil (which, frankly, it seemed to have lots of, enough to throw around anyway). He did not swear, which I think proves once and for all that he is a better person than I. Or less creatively profane. One of those.

Because I was helpless in the face of all this mechanical-ness and because I used to be a preschool teacher and old habits die hard, I tried to offer encouragement: "Look, Honey! It's not spitting any oil at all now! Good job!" To which he replied calmly "Yes, it's working fine now. Until it gets warm and blows up which is what happened to my last riding mower when I loaned it to a friend." Ah. Okay. So....perhaps all is not resolved.

Even so, he tinkered around a bit more and then suggested that all was probably okay and I could go ahead and mow the lawn with it. He then uttered the comment that I think really helps to illustrate the difference between men and women: "But, you know. If it starts smoking, you probably want to get off." I don't mean to be sexist or anything...but I don't know any women who would encourage a loved one to get on something that might blow up, with the cheery proviso that they should think about getting off if it begins billowing smoke. I don't believe I have any male readers but, if I do and you feel maligned, please speak up. If nothing else, enlighten me as to how this reasoning works. It's the explosion thing, isn't it? You guys think its cool when shit explodes, don't you? And a ringside seat, well. Who wouldn't want that?

All that said, we can take votes now on which of the Knitingales is more nuts--because I actually DID take the riding mower and mow the lawn (after we restored the drive belt which had apparently deserted its post there in the oily bowels of what I can only think of now as the Exxon Valdez of lawn mowers). This was due less to my belief that all would be well, and more to the fact that my alternative was to mow two acres of property with a walk-behind mower that refuses to run at all unless I cajole it with the offering of my shoulder in a selfless act of dislocation, and which also chokes and gags like a 4-year-old with a mouth full of spinach if asked to cut a single blade of grass that's half a frogs hair longer than that on a putting green. It's a delicate flower, this lawn mower. Mr. K suggested that I set the delicate flower up a bit so that it's not forced to mow such long grass; the result of this was a lawn full of grass that appeared to have been gently blown on. Shorter, not so much.

Since I'm writing this, you can safely assume that the Exxon Valdez and I did not, in fact, blow up, due no doubt to the fact that I drove it around the yard at high speed (I figured I'd go faster so I could get done before it blew up....I know. It's a miracle I passed ANY of my classes) with white knuckles and one eye permanently fixed on the front watching for smoke. In truth, it did release a few puffs of white smoke here and there, leading me to believe that the imps that make machines work are, in fact, devout Catholics and were holding papal votes in there while I worked. If this is the case, they managed to select about 6 tiny popes while I mowed, which impressive bit of multi-tasking leads me to believe that this may actually be a superior sort of lawn mower, in spite of its apparent goal to spew oil all over the yard like a motorized Vesuvius.
Once I'd finished, I decided to recover from all this oiliness and worry by working on a new sock (big surprise), this one a Lucy Neatby pattern called a Mermaid Sock worked in Lorna's Laces. I guess the real surprise is that I actually like my first attempt at matching yarn and pattern....I wonder if I inhaled too many lawn mower fumes...? Anyway, this is the sock so far:

If you haven't seen the pattern, those spirals are intentional and will wind all the way around the sock, all the way down. It would be farther along but for the fact that I screwed it up and had to start over....another not surprise, truth be told. In my defense, it requires putting a multiple of six stitches on four needles with each needle holding a multiple of six, and it further requires finding some clever way to keep track of the beginnings of the rows because as it spirals, the marker will spiral with and lose your place for you quite handily. Believing myself to be brilliant (mechanical prowess notwithstanding), I resolved both issues by putting 18 stitches on each of three needles and 12 on the fourth so that I always know I've finished a round when I've worked the needle with 12 stitches. No doubt those of you who've made this have long since figured it out...but allow me my moment, 'kay? The lawn mower spit at me...I deserve sympathy.

I'll close today with Miss's thoughts on what a peson with a lap should be doing as opposed to knitting...I do love this cat.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I've come to the realization that yardwork is like Viagra for the back when you're my age. Stiffens it right up. Not that I recommend the same sort of treatment for penises because they don't have hands and because, well, that would just be gross.

Crudeness for today out of the way (it's a chore, I can tell you), I can enlighten you as to the joys of the day at Camp Knitingale, where we decided that the lack of deluge from the heavens for a few hours was reason enough to go tend to the (wild overgrown insanity that might well be hiding more than just our garden gnomes...a hound dog, maybe, or a '57 chevy) yard. This meant bending over approximately 800,000 million times to pick up 800,000 million slimey sticks and branches to put them in wheelbarrows and haul them over to this burn pile:

It is now approximately 2.5 times the size it was when I took the photo (yes, I went back and helped him...I'm not that mean, or that clever that I can come up with an excuse not to) with Mr. K for perspective and I'll remind you now that it is the third such burn pile we have compiled from the sticks the heavens saw fit to throw at us back in December. Mr. K says we're only about 2/3 finished....which makes me question my choice to use him for perspective, as that particular perspective makes my back muscles throw up their hands in despair before packing a bag for parts unknown. But anyway.

It has been said many times that zucchini could just about resolve the world's hunger problems in that every beginning gardener hereabouts has, at one time or another, innocently planted some of the stuff, only to find that it produced more than enough to assure that they would no longer have friends by the end of growing season....and those souls at work who are stuck with them to scurry away in fear at the mere hint of any sort of basket that might hold produce. (Such gardeners often have to smuggle their knitting into the office in pockets, lest the knitting bag be mistaken for a cache of zucchini and both bag and knitter beaten to death with sticks). Given that I don't care for zucchini (I think I've said that I'm a veggie-phobe...I sometimes wonder if my mother was terribly frightened by a veggie platter while pregnant with me. If so, it apparently wasn't one of the ones with dip, because I love ranch dip.) you can sure that I've never planted so much as a single seed of the stuff. However, the people who owned the house before me planted--not zucchini, but it's fruity equivalent, at least in these parts: rhubarb.

Although I love most fruits, rhubarb is a puzzle to me in that it seems like nothing so much as red, sour celery which I have a hard time imagining a pressing need for. And so, not surprisingly, I ignore this rhubarb year after year and, year after year, it dies and disappears in autumn like it should, only to return like Lazurus, growing up from apparently barren earth in the Spring and spreading out like chicken pox in a daycare. I don't even water this stuff. And, at least a few times every season, I manage to mangle huge clumps of it in the mower. It forgives me, though, or it withstands it because it is hatching a sinister plot to take over the world. I'm not completely sure which. But I did get to looking at it today and it IS kind of cool-looking while it's growing:

For the unitiated (and trust me, I was not initiated willingly--gardens and I share an uneasy alliance at best), this is how those giant leaves look when they first come out. They're all wrinkled and wadded up, (kind of like my green silk panties that got caught in the washing machine workings a few years ago and I had to watch while a burly guy named "Earl" hauled them out of the bowels of the machine with a leer and said "I'm guessing these are yours?" Good times.) and they kind of explode out of the little red thingies. (Quality botany terminology all the way, baby. Don't say I never offered you anything educational.)

In the middle of this picture you can see another of the red thingies, not quite as far along in the "giving birth to wrinkled leaves" process.

It is possible that I am way overfascinated by the workings of rhubarb. But compared to the relative merits of stuffing pine boughs into wheelbarrows while watching Ed whack another salamander (I don't know what he has against salamanders...maybe one of them said something about his mama. But I will tell you that he is very frugal with his toys, playing with them long after they're dead...either that or he was trying to perform CPR with no small amount of enthusiasm), it can be downright uplifting.

Just for Celtic Jo, I offer this unexpected pleasure:

Tons and tons of these lovely shamrocks were growing underneath a layer of pine branches that I would have thought might have crushed the life out of them, but no. They were growing along cheerfully, apparently secure in the knowledge that I would eventually come along and free them. Shamrocks are nothing if not optimistic.

Just as we were gettting ready to come in for a bit, Mr. K and I paused for a bit of reminiscence. I reminded him of our early courtship, when I came out and worked with him in his yard and helped him pick up all the sticks the heavens were throwing back then (the heavens have kind of a bitch on for those of us with trees around here). He agreed, with such a sweet smile on his face that my heart swelled with love. And then he placed a hand on his lower back and added:

"Hurt like hell then, too."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Driver's Ed for Dummies

Have you ever noticed that we--you guys and me--are the only folks out there who know how to drive? I used to think I was the only one but you guys are all so cool that I'm forced to assume that you also know how to drive; you just don't share the local roads with me, more's the pity. Clearly, driver's education isn't what it ought to be. If they asked me, I'd be happy to write a new one for them that is both clear and concise. That crap about it being illegal to back around a corner? Toss that one. Who does that, anyway? I say if you're dumb enough to back around a corner where you can't see, you kind of deserve the goodly smack your car is likely to get for it. Some of the other stuff is just isn't written clearly. I'd like to suggest some...modifications, if I may:

The proper distance for beginning to slow down before making a turn in heavy traffic is something less than a mile and a half. In fact, it's less than a BLOCK and a half. Please. Planning ahead is great for estate lawyers but there can be too much of it in driving.

To correctly operate a motor vehicle, it is best to pay attention to the motor vehicle and all of the things outside of it which would not benefit from being smacked by it. For instance, your nails, your paperback, your radio, your bowl of cereal, and your make-up are all slightly lower down on the list of importance then the cars in around you and the old lady in the crosswalk.

It's really easy to remember: G for green, G for go. Memorize it, people.

Signalling for turns should happen slightly more often than "when you feel like it". Surprises are fun on your birthday; less so in heavy traffic in the rain when you need a braking distance of more than 2 feet.

The police officer on the side of the road waiting to give you remedial driving lessons actually doesn't mind if you go the speed limit. And it's not like going below the speed limit now will somehow get banked with him and applied to the overage the next time he sees you speeding. Quit staring at the cop and drive the damned speed limit.

Remember how in grade school if you take "cuts" in line someone was quite likely to punch you in the head? I can't do that now because the police frown on it and because I can't punch you and drive at the same time...but if you know that the right lane is ending and you speed up and go all the way to the end of it so you can slip in ahead of all the people who waited patiently? Well, you suck. And it's all right with me if you sit there for two hours while no one lets you in because you took cuts.

The far left lane is for cars that are going fairly quickly. The other lanes are for the slower cars. Maybe put a post-it on your dashboard to help you remember this. Trust me when I say that no one stuck behind you going 3 miles below the speed limit in the fast lane is impressed with your virtuousness.

It is really not essential that you slow down in order to look at the accident in the oncoming lane, thus slowing down THIS lane which wasn't actually blocked until you came along. I promise--the accident site does not contain a supermodel in a bikini/winning lottery numbers/secret to calorie-free chocolate (believe me--I'd slow down for that one) or a hunky, naked firefigher just waiting to make eye contact with you.

When right-of-way is in doubt, it is a kindness to gesture to the other person that they may go first. It is likewise a kindness for them to offer that gesture to you. But please--for the love of every wool bearing mammal: if they gesture to you to go, GO. The 5 minutes you two spend in your little "no, you go" lovefest are 5 minutes of lifetime I won't get back. JUST. GO.

Tailgating me does not make me drive faster. Particularly on a curvy road with a drop off and very low guardrails. In fact, it tends to make me drive more slowly in shocking disregard for your frustration. What can I say--I'm like that. Either ask me out or back off.

The color yellow, when used on a traffic light, is to tell you to slow down and stop because the light will be turning red. Many people believe a yellow light to mean "go like hell before it turns red." These people are incorrect and it seriously burns my toast when half my green is wasted waiting for you to run your red.

It is not okay to pull into oncoming traffic and then slow down to a crawl. If you do it, please be prepared to interpret a colorful assortment of hand gestures, many of which will describe anatomical impossibilities.

The lines marking off parking spaces are not suggestions. Before you leave your vehicle, consider whether I will be able to get into mine without the aid of a can opener. If I cannot (and be advised here that I am fully 5'8" tall and not built like Kate Moss in her Calvin Klein days), consider moving your vehicle a few inches to the left. Consider it really hard.

Singing along with the radio is good. A little driver's seat boogie is also good. A base system that pumps out rap music so loud that the the local seismic center employees are running around frantically and blaming the utterly innocent local volcanoes--less good. If you want to blow out your eardrums, please be considerate and do it at home.

It's called rain. We see it a lot here. It is not shards of glass/sprinklings of nails/frogs/fish/crude oil/naked men. It is nothing that requires you to slow down to 20 miles an hour and drive with white knuckles for the rest of your journey.

Diving in front of me because you're tired of waiting for an opening in traffic and you figure I'll stop is making a rather risky assumption about the condition of both my brakes and the road. We won't even talk about the assumption you're making about my patience, other than to say it's probably misguided.

If you suddenly see your freeway exit on the far right from where you're driving on the far left and you would have to cross 4 lanes of traffic in about 10 feet, you've missed your exit.

Why, yes. I DID go out driving this morning. How did you know? I had to drive to a doctor's appointment because it's been a full year since a slender and beautiful woman of about 12 in a white coat looked me over and started 70% of her sentences with the phrase "you're getting to the age where..." and so my self-esteem was in danger of picking up. Thankfully, I got that taken care of.

Is it remotely possible that my judgement of other drivers was adversely affected by the cruel reminders of my aging body?

Nah. We're just the only ones who know how to drive.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Important Stuff for Monday

Things change as you get older. Okay, yeah, so that's a priceless example of "statement of the obvious" theater. But I mean more than the fact that my once perfectly flat tummy now feels compelled to try to peek over my jeans to see what it's missing, or that my thighs have gotten to know one another significantly better than I ever wanted them to. I mean stuff like this:

I had to go out this morning. I was dropping off my nursing school application now that all the grades were in. 20 years ago, I would have spent an hour curling my hair and applying make-up. I would have selected clothing with the kind of gravity normally reserved for the selection of name for a firstborn child, and I would probably have looked at myself from all angles in the mirror before grabbing my carefully chosen handbag and rushing out the door.
Today I was terribly excited that my shoes matched. As we all know, this isn't necessarily a given for me.
I think different things matter as we get older. I used to really want the cute guy at the grocery store to check me out when I went to buy something, and I would take longer than was necessary, probably in a giggly sort of way. Nowadays I wonder why the cute guy at the grocery store isn't in school, because he looks about 12. And if doesn't quit calling me "Ma'am", I'm going to run over his foot with my cart (not my walker, yet...but it's coming.).
Way back then I thought it terribly important that my jeans bore the name of the newest designer and if they were so uncomfortable as to be painful, so be it. Now I look for jeans that interfere with the burgeoning thigh relationship, cover my southward-migrating ass, and don't require a bikini wax. And I won't buy the house brand jeans at a popular outlet store, because I can't imagine why I'd want the phrase "Faded Glory" printed on my tush. It's possible to carry truth in advertising too far.
I used to buy expensive, cute little exercise outfits and go to the gym to participate in bouncy little aerobics classes. It's really a miracle that I didn't injure myself because I paid far more attention to the men in the room than the instructor, the music, the aerobics step, or my feet. Now I'm all excited that my husband gave me all his boxer shorts (he decided that he doesn't like wearing them--if he'd liked them and worn them until he was done with them, there'd be nothing left but a waistband and an underwearish idea spelled out in faded threads, so you can be assured that I didn't inherit them THAT way) because I can throw them on in the morning with a jog bra whose original color is up for debate and go into the exercise room down the hall to glare at the TV and curse gravity for making all my perky bits into glum, sulking bits.
At 21, I used to preen and feel flattered if a man whistled at me. Now I figure he's probably calling his dog...and if he's not, he'd better look like he is. Somewhere along the way I finally realized that the sexiest part of me--my mind--isn't visible across the park to a 20-something guy with a centerfold brain and yeah, he'd better make like he's looking for a dog because I'm older and tougher than he is. Believe it.

Somewhere along the way I also realized that "cool", like "normal" is a setting on the washing machine and that 41 is really quite beautiful. It's free and it's honest and I spend a lot less money on cosmetics (really, I still can't believe how much time I spent putting that little pointy wand right by my EYE in order to make my black and I know who I am, even if I'm a squishier me than once I was.

I intended to be funny today--I really did. I blame the solemnity and finality of the application process and the time I've spent thinking about what matters to me now, and what mattered to me way back when and how sad it is that I never knew what was lovely about me or what mattered not one whit. It hurts my heart to remember that girl putting on layers of disguise because she thought the outside was the important bit and never thought to look in where the good stuff is. And I'm honored to get to be this age--the one where I feel powerful and strong and am terrified of the outcome of this application even as I'm excited to find that I'm tough enough to do what I had to do to get to this point.

Guess my philosophical needed more waxing today....who knew? (Insert jokes about a hairy philosophical here, if you like.)
Because too much provoking of thought on a Monday sounds risky, even in my current state of introspection, Behold the sock:

A pattern from Charlene Schurch's first book in Fleece Artist Sangria. From another view:

The actual color is somewhere between these two pictures...for some reason, the color is maddeningly elusive when a camera comes out. But I love the sock and I love the steeper, more rounded toe that I sort of accidentally had to do because of where the pattern was when I got to the toe part.

I'm off to celebrate my sock, my age, and my matching shoes. May your Monday be as joyful.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rainy Days and Fashion Blunders

I had written a terribly clever post for you, I really had. In fact, I feel quite certain that it was the wittiest thing ever to not appear on a blog...not, because Mr. K and I share a network with our two computers and he was working upstairs and I was working downstairs and he severed the internet connection and I didn't realize it until I had been typing for an hour and tried to publish the post and it disappeared and can't be recovered and now I'm going to make Mr. K sleep in this puddle:

Okay, so not really. He's kind of cute and handy with salamanders and I'm really quite fond of him. Besides, I should have seen it coming. In addition to the torrential downpour that has turned the entire area into a wetland and imbued my hair with so much frizz that I can pick up radio Singapore with my giant head, I also went out in this pair of footwear:

and naturally, I didn't notice the situation until we were too far from home to go change and still had several stops to make. Of course. KnottyKitty recently asked me how many pairs of boots I have. The answer is two. And they both look just like this one.

This leads me to the conclusion that the many of you kind souls who suggested that a bit of a break after the recent traumatic school quarter might well be right. And, after a fashion (yeah, like I know a lot about fashion), I am doing that. I'll be returning to school next week for the Spring quarter, but I'll only be taking one class (microbiology, to better examine my failing brain cells as they fall from my head). For four weeks, I'll be commuting to Everett to take a CNA class (you remember--the school next to the sex shop, thus allowing me to induce a heart attack in a man AND learn to revive him, all without even moving my car. I love one stop shopping.)

Mr. K has suggested that the lengthy wait for the results of the nursing school applications (they'll know "perhaps in late June", according to the counseling office) might go more easily for me if I fill my time with constructive activity, such as:

1. Sand and finish French doors

2. Sand and finish new back door, and help Mr. K hang it.

3. Pick up fallen branches in our yard (all 2 acres of it)

4. Trim bushes in front and back

Being the gracious wife that I am, I accepted his list and made only a couple of very tiny changes. It is important, after all, that a couple work as a team.

1. Place door on floor with catnip on it, glue sandpaper on cat's feet.

2. Offer branches in back yard free to moles for future construction projects (I believe they're building a mall) if they agree to move it themselves.

3. Knit

See, much the same. Truth is, I am not the sort of person anyone would ever call handy, other than when pointing out that I live here so it's handy to get me--you don't have to go far. I don't have a clue what I'm doing...but I'm handy. In fact, I have come up with many ideas for home help books but, strangely, they've all been rejected. For instance:

"Like Dust Ever Killed Anyone--A Guide to Prioritizing Your Days"

"Those Screwdrivers With the Little Crosses in the Ends are Not Religious Artifacts, and Other Little Known Home Repair Facts"

"Low Wattage Light Bulbs Are Cheaper than Cleaning Products"

"If it Smells Clean, it IS Clean--Making Mr. Clean Your Only Air Freshener"

"It Will Need to Be Repainted Yet Again in 10 Years--Work Smarter and Do it Then"

"The Only Difference Between Not Mowing and 'A Charming Wild Garden' is How You Spin It"

"A Spotless Home Only Encourages Long-Term Houseguests"

"A Crawling Baby With an Absorbent Sleeper is More Time Effective Than a Mop"

"If I Start Making Little Ribbon-Tied Baskets of Hand Towels for the Guest Bathroom, Just Shoot Me."

"You Could Eat Off My Floor--My Cats Do It All the Time"

"Do You Remember the Number for 911? The Clumsy Woman's Guide to Power Tools"

"Turning Up the Radio, and Other Solutions for Funny Noises"

"Your Clothes Dryer--A Cylindrical Closet in the Making"

"How Cat Nose Prints on a Window Can be a Charming Collage"

Yeah, Martha's quaking in her highly polished boots. I can tell. Bet she didn't get a 4.0 gpa last quarter, though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

End of the Quarter...well, not BLUES...Pinks?

The final test of the quarter, Chemistry, is out of the way. Not that I'm really ready for this quarter to be done or anything, but I had some difficulty formulating a reasonable answer for the extra credit question, which was "In two or more complete paragraphs, explain how chemistry affects the world around you and your every day life, using information from our lectures. BE SPECIFIC." I'm pretty sure this wouldn't have done it:

"Well, you're asking me to go back to the beginning of the quarter and, honestly, I've been doing a brain dump after every test ever since you told us there wouldn't be a cumulative final. Frankly, I'm not sure I could tell you what color the textbook is at this point, and I feel fortunate that I actually know it's a chemistry class. I'll take a shot at it, though.

The way chemistry has affected my life over the last several weeks has been to force me out of bed at an ungodly hour to listen to two hours of lecture punctuated by cruel and unusual bubbliness. It has given me headaches, a nervous tic in my left eye, and nightmares about tiny tiny particles running around bonding to one another and demanding that I draw little dot pictures of them. Because of chemistry, I have learned that I cannot actually tear a hardback book in two with my bare hands, a chemistry book does not bounce, and it is better to study outside when working on Lewis dot structures, because there are no windows to get in the way of flying books as long as you hurl them away from the house.

While I was charmed by the little salsa dance you did to demonstrate the excitability of molecules on the surface of water about to be evaporated, I can honestly say that I will never look at a glass of drinking water the same way again.....nor will I dance in front of anyone without making sure I have a good bra on. It seems that good support is important for chemistry. Who knew? Chemistry has also made me think, if by "think" you understand that I mean "ponder weepily what I've done wrong to deserve this, and desperately try to think of something I could change my major to that won't require classes that cause my brain to attempt to run screaming from my head". So far with that restriction it seems I'm limited to a major in "polishing my nails", "putting my clothes on in the right order" or "successful showering without drowning". Since I never polish my nails, I'm really probably stuck with just the other two options. But yes, chemistry has clearly had an impact on my life and I can honestly say that this class gets the blame/credit/profanity it deserves."

The second extra credit question: "What did you enjoy most about this class?" wasn't much better, as I rather suspect that "the way the mist hangs in the trees out the classroom window on a rainy morning" wasn't completely what she had in mind. Nor was "it got to be over eventually" or "I will never have to take it again, especially now that my brain has defected".

On the way home, I stopped at a take and bake pizza place, Mr. K's request, to pick up a pizza for dinner. The store was only just open and there was not a single customer in sight other than myself. I placed the order, paid for the order, and was just about to put away my checkbook when the counter girl said cheerily "Okay, can I get your name so I can call you when it's ready?" I should point out there that the entire area in the front of the store is no bigger than my kitchen, and I couldn't actually get more than 10 feet from the assembly line where she creates the pizza without ever leaving my sight. I was really tempted to stand there when she finished with it and stare at her until she asked why I wasn't taking it so I could tell her that she hadn't called my name so I wasn't totally sure it was mine and not one of the invisible people jostling me for space.

Okay, yeah. Chemistry makes me mean. I admit it. Hey, maybe I should have put that on the test. I wonder what the equation for that would be....

If F is Florencium (me), and Ch is chemistry, then F + 1/4 Ch ----MF + BF, where MF = Meanochloric Florencium and BF = Brain Failure.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Of Pine Trees and Peanut Butter

So, Knotty Kitty had some sage advice for me regarding the fur people (not about the salamanders--she is apparently not a salamander expert, more's the pity). She discovered that pine pellets actually absorb odor significantly more than any other cat litter on the market, they're biodegradable, and they're cheap. Being that lugging gerjillion pound boxes of clumping litter that magically forms little sheets of superglue in the litter box once a week was becoming a tad less fun than, oh, say getting a paper cut on my tongue, I was all for this. So I went out, bought a small bag of the things to start with, and dumped them on top of the old litter and stirred it up. I was thinking, you see, that I would do a half and half thing to sort of get them eased into this whole "peeing on pine pellets" thing. (It's pleasingly alliterative...why wouldn't they be delighted? Or so went my logic.)

All went well until 7:00 the next morning, when I went to clean the litter box and found it....suspiciously clean. Hm. And then I noticed poor Gracie, pacing around the litter box, meowing pitifully. There were no accidents, thankfully, but poor Gracie was deeply concerned about these strange things in her litter box. She had somehow managed to "hold it" all night, while waiting for me to come down so she could report the problem to someone in charge. You know, something like "Dude!! I didn't want to bug you, I really didn't, but there's this pine tree all chopped up in the litter box and I knew you wouldn't want me to pee on your pine tree and all so I didn't but man I gotta pee and please PLEASE do something about that tree before I explode!" Apparently it is a challenge for a cat to cross its legs.

I stirred the litter around more and attempted to explain things to her, largely because I'm completely insane and somehow believe that I can reason with a creature that thinks her name is "Damnit, get OFF the counter!!", thinks the plastic strip off a milk jug is the coolest toy in the entire world, and further believes that she she can catch and subdue the light from a laser pointer when directed at the ceiling. I have no real excuse for this lapse in my logic. I only know that it was 7:00am, I had an 8:00 class, I had no other cat litter, my cat was going into bladder spasm, and I seriously didn't want to clean up cat pee--or worse--when I got home, since two hours of chemistry are really enough crap for one day. So, I told her that it was FINE to pee on the pine tree, look, see? There's your regular litter underneath, and no, really, it's just the same, you may pee at will (though not at Will, because he gets testy about such things) and pleasepleaseplease use the litter box or I have no idea what I'm going to do in the limited time I have to resolve this issue before school.

Gracie circled the box warily, put in a paw, snatched it out again as if nipped by savage pirahnas, circled the box again, meowed at me, stuck a paw in again, yanked it back again.....for the love of all things wooly. I finally picked up the cat and dumped her unceremoniously in the litterbox, pine tree and all. She leaped out, but then leaped back in, apparently comforted that nothing had bitten off her feet during her millisecond long stay. I then did what any normal pet owner would do: I rewarded her for using the same litterbox she's used her whole life by allowing her to lick peanut butter off my finger. (She loves it--won't even eat meat when offered, but will all but climb in your mouth to get peanut butter if you're eating it.)

It's mornings like that that make me wonder if I may not know....completely normal. I don't know, call it a hunch, but I'm pretty sure that most people didn't start their day by bribing a one-eyed cat with peanut butter to get it to pee on pine pellets.

A UFO was sited at Chez Knitingale yesterday, as well:

Some of you may recognize the bell pattern shawl, being knit painfully slowly in Frog Tree Alpaca. Somehow, the reality of "it gets bigger every single row until eventually whatever row you're working on seems larger than George Bush's ego and you're pretty sure your clothes will be out of style by the time you've added a fraction of an inch" managed to escape me...until the rows started to be that long. I also started it on Denise needles which, while I adore my Denise needles, are not actually much sharper than Miss, or a dull crayon. That, coupled with the fact that 2 of every 18 rows consist of "k4tog tbl, k4 tog, knit 7, repeat across an eternity of stitches until you are drooling and babbling and can no longer recall what you're making" was enough to assure this particular UFO a place in a government hanger at Roswell forever. I caved in yesterday, though, and switched it to an Addis. It may critically alter the gauge but, in truth, it won't get finished anyway if I don't put it on something a tad bit pointier.
Lastly, I located a store nearby that imports all manner of goodness from England to folks like me who have not been to England in far too long and are pining. As a result of this, I have just ingested yet another digestive biscuit liberally spread with Nutella. If my butt starts to block out the sun on a bright day, I'm blaming all you English folks (you know who you are).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"It's More Afraid of You...."

No matter how challenging the week, you can always find someone who has it worse. For instance, Ed was just wanting to come inside for a little rug-attacking (a favorite hobby of the Edster) and found himself quite unable to meow around the new friend to whom he was thoughtfully providing a ride in his mouth:

And even worse, because I am a terribly unreasonable person, I wouldn't let him bring his new friend inside anyway. Clearly, Ed has it rough. Then again, I'm pretty sure the salamander isn't having a terrific day either. It seems like a day that involves hanging out in the mouth of a cat who's trying to meow around you would probably qualify as "one of those days." Mind you, I don't know what would constititute a good day for a salamander....but I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve sharp pointy things, and the smell of Friskies Salmon Platter in Sauce. You'll notice that, somehow, the salamander was unharmed. Ed gave up trying to meow around him and dropped him, whereupon Mr. K bravely took the little guy to safety

while I acted all stupid and girly and said things like "well, don't bring him over toward ME!!" Yes, I am all too aware that the salamander is more afraid of me than I am of him, and that there is really nothing a 2 inch lizard looking thing can do to harm me unless he has heretofore unrealized pyrokinetic powers (never thought of that, didja?)'s a visceral thing for which I have no logical explanation. Somewhere, my little primitive brain looks at it and says "Lizard thing, BAD. Run." And, when you consider all the giant dinosaurs that could have crushed New York had there actually been a New York, it is just possible that my hindbrain is quite wise, if several thousand years behind the times. (Yes, I do know that man and dinosaurs didn't live at the same time..but it sounds better than "I'm just a goofy, shrieky girl"). In any case, Ed was far from amused at the theft of his new best good friend.

Now, a good question is this: why do people always try to tell me that the icky, pulsating spider with malevolent eyes/nasty, slimy-looking salamander/very long slithery snake appearing out of thin air and appearing 1/4 inch away from my sandal/hornet armed with bayonet of startling proportions/filthy plague-bearing rat is "more afraid of me than I am of him"? I don't believe it for a minute. I mean, I've never SEEN a nasty hairy pulsating spider running frantically through the house, waving all 4 of its arms (I'm assuming the other 4 are legs), shouting "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! Knitter!! Knitter!! Someone KILL IT!!" Neither have I seen a mouse perched on a chair so as to avoid my running over its foot, a bat dodging frantically to avoid what it is sure is my rabies-infested bite on its neck, or a snake running hell bent for leather (what does that MEAN, anyway??) through the yard until running headlong into a tree so as to avoid the nasty human knitter in its path. (Yes, I did run into a tree trying to escape a vicious garden snake; no, we shall not speak of it.)

Moreover, I'm willing to bet good wool that anyone uttering that damnable phrase really has no accurate way of judging the level of my fear and is underestimating exponentially. I once climbed up onto a bench to try to kill a spider on a ceiling before it plopped down on my head while I slept and sucked all my blood out and ate my hair and, when the horrid thing actually moved approximately half a frog's hair in my direction (most likely a twitch and not the vicious charge that my hindbrain interpreted from the half-dime-sized arachnid), I leaped backwards in complete disregard for the fact that I was on a bench, fell on the floor, and brought the edge of the bench down soundly on my toe, breaking it (the toe, not the bench. Or, sadly, the spider.)

I'd also wager that there are no spiders who have managed to sit in the dark with a full bladder until completely awake so as not to run sleepily into me on the way to the toilet. And certainly none of them have ever had strands of my house wrapped around their faces on the way out to the garbage at O'Crap O'Clock in the morning. Oh, and I've never clattered around in THEIR bathtubs on little spider hooves and then refused to be washed down the drain in any sort of civilized fashion. I put to you that not only are the spiders NOT as afraid of me as I am of them (which would be well-nigh impossible, I think) but they would actually be thumbing their noses at me if they had noses. Or thumbs. Nope, not buying this one. Next time someone offers the "more afraid of you than you are of them" thing, I'm going to ask for proof.

Now, while the salamander and Ed might not be having a great time of it at present, my week turned around quite nicely. Not so much when I found out about the 4.0 (although that didn't suck) but when I read all your wonderful comments wishing me success and offering complete faith in my ability to succeed. Seriously, I teared right up and the last several messages were quite blurry (but still wonderful). It's amazing to have all these people out there who mean so much to me, but whom I haven't actually met. Somehow, I feel like I've sat and knitted at least an hour or so with each of you. Thank you doesn't quite cut it but the language doesn't offer me anything else. So thank you. All of you mean the world to me.

Marti, you are so sweet. And the flag is proceeding slowly. The flag, for the rest of you, is the chunk of linen stitch I started in a self-striping yarn and which somehow resembled nothing so much as the flag of some unknown foreign country. I, of course, waved it aloft and proclaimed myself the rightful heir of the throne of Elbownia. (In my defense, this was mere hours after the testfromhell, and most of my brain cells had run away yelping in terror.) In any case, the fact that it took two hours and 60 rows to create a piece of knitting the size of a deck of cards did not encourage me...the flag is now being alternated with other, more cooperative pieces of knitting. I'll put up a photo if it ever gets to the size of something lofty, like a bookmark or a slice of American Cheese Product.

Love to all of you. Truly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hell Week

For some, the process of school in general, and finals week in particular, goes something like this:

1. Study
2. Take test
3. Get grade
4. Go on with life.

In truth, this is probably the way for normal people everywhere. You may suspect that it is not so for Ms. Knitingale, and you would be right. I am writing this tonight from a place of great gobsmackedness, which will all become clear momentarily. See, my finals week went more like this:
1. Study
2. Find out that the school has suddenly changed yet ANOTHER policy, thus requiring that all Biology 212 courses include a final that covers Biology 211 AND Biology 212. This, in spite of the fact that there are at least four different teachers for these two classes and most people will not get the same teacher for both. (You may have already guessed that Ms. Knitingale is one of those who did not.)
3. Swear
4. Lose sleep
5. Ask in class for a general idea of what might be covered from 211; find out in horror that 211 teacher completely left out sections that will be on test given by 212 teacher.
6. Panic
7. Consider career as Sherpa
8. Reject Sherpa idea, as have sensitive feet and so cannot go barefoot in the mountains
9. Attempt to cram two quarters of studying into less than one week, while also studying for Chemistry, doing a 5 page chemistry assignment on titration that is so difficult that brains begin running out of ears, and running around in panicked circles.
10. Search for cups to place under ears to catch brains from above, since obviously cannot spare any.
11. Inexplicably, begin to knit sock, as though knitting will somehow help with learning process.
12. Return, somewhat shamefacedly, to studying.
13. Consider joining the circus
14. Remember fear of heights, fire, and most sharp things, as well as tragic inability to juggle. Realize circus career options may be quite severely limited. Wonder how many more tattoos would need in order to be one of the freaks.
15. Stare blankly at 70 pages of Biology notes and realize that there is absolutely NO WAY to get all the information packed into tiny brain.
16. Drive husband totally nuts.
17. Whimper pitifully.
18. Ask husband if he would be ashamed of wife with career in panhandling.
19. Apologize for driving husband nuts. Again.
20. Take test.
21. Read first question on test; realize that this test will be hell of a whole new sort. Panic further.
22. Complete all 160 questions of test with growing sense of disaster and doom.
23. Consider that flipping coin in front of teacher might look bad; realize could do no worse than am doing anyway.
24. Realize do not have coin.
25. Whimper softly, so as not to disturb other whimpering students.
26. Turn in test while telling teacher in strained whisper that "It's funny--you don't LOOK evil" (I really did that...he said he wasn't TRYING to be evil, but I'm not buying it). Resist urge to suggest that he probably eats his young.
27. Calculate in head that the possibility of having passed test is slightly worse than the possibility of having lottery winnings in the amount of 800 million dollars delivered to door by hardbody hunk wearing a g-string, a bow tie, and a rose between his teeth. (It is worth noting here that I do not play lottery, and it is clearly too cold for a g-string....and the chances of this happening still seemed significantly better).
28. Cry
29. Torment self over studying that should have been done differently.
30. Call husband, cry some more
31. Begin polishing up resume (a grade of less than 3.0 in that class would disqualify me from even applying to the nursing program...failing the 160 question final would probably drop it a bit below that crucial watermark)
32. Cry more
33. Ask self repeatedly who in HELL could possibly know whether there are two sodiums on the ouside of a sodium channel and 3 potassiums inside or 3 sodiums outside and 2 potassiums inside or 3 sodiums inside and 2 potassiums outside or 2 sodiums inside and 3 potassiums outside. Decide that teacher really is some sort of strange and cruel demon.
34. Begin searching for jobs on-line.
35. Buy yarn do not actually need (some things don't change, even when my immediate world appears to be ending)
36. Realize that teacher will not have grades until Friday
37. Tell husband about number 35; attempt to convince him not to move out until then.
38. Realize that am no happier about being stuck with me this week than he is.
39. Spend day with friend today; drive her crazy as well.
40. Knit on sock with dire certainty that this will probably also be completely screwed up.
41. Say good bye to friend, come to check e-mail. Find e-mail from Biology teacher. Read the following: "Ms. Knitingale, I just thought you'd like to know that I finished calculating your grade for the quarter. You got a 4.0. Congratulations--you did excellent work"
42. Stare blankly at computer.
43. Stare blankly at computer some more.
44. Call husband (who is thrilled that it is safe to come home)
45. Check online gradebook to see if this is all a sick joke
46. Stare blankly again.

Now, lest you are harboring the notion that I was merely being silly or self-deprecating or something, allow me to say: I have never in my life taken such a difficult test, and I have never in my life been so convinced that I could not possibly have passed a test. Dudes, it was unreal. There were questions on there that I swear I had never heard anything about in my entire life. Hell. It was hell. And, in fact, I did not score perfectly on the test. I missed quite a few. But there was extra credit on it, and I had a perfect score plus some extra credit going into it, and...

Sorry. I was staring blankly again. For the record, the sock is turning out better than I thought it would, too:

The yarn is Fleece Artist in the Sangria colorway, and it is much richer in person, much deeper. I am quite pleased with it, and not just because I'm pleased with pretty much everything at this moment.

Did I mention that I somehow pulled a 4.0 out of my ass in biology 212? Yeah. It's good.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Ah, Pomotamus. We meet again. Mr. Smooth Talker, that's you. Hiding out in my drawer, waiting for me to forget our last date. Hoping that I've forgotten your careless betrayal of me, not once but over and over. How many evenings did I waste, dreaming of the day when we would be together in perfect gauge and harmonious stitch definition? How many hours did I throw away, thinking that you loved me, when you were just waiting to sneak other stitches onto the needle, or cast others aside as recklessly as you did me? You're a cad, Pomotamus. Oh yes--you thought I wouldn't see you on all those other blogs, didn't you? You never thought I'd notice you snuggling up to all those other legs, your design perfectly rendered in that OTHER wool, by those OTHER hands. And yet, I saw. I saw, and my heart broke. I should have known I meant nothing to you.
I soldiered on, however. I found other socks, other yarns, and I healed. I eased my pain with mosaics and socks the color of clown vomit and I drowned my sorrows in pair after pair of other, substitute socks. They weren't you, of course. Who could be you? I looked better, I seemed better...but inside, I pined for you. I pined for your gentle swirls and ridges, ached to feel your gentle touch on my calves. Still, I knew it could never be.
You're from another world, Pomotamus. A world where sock patterns have unpronounceable names and knitters can count perfectly each time, every time, to produce magical patterns that the rest of us can only dream about. You're bright lights, big city while I....well, I'm just a country girl. I knew we were star-crossed lovers, and I tried--I really tried-- to fall in love with other socks. But they were just children compared to your sophisticated patterns, your intricate details.
And then, you reappeared. You bided your time, waited until my confidence was up--until I was flushed with the success of an entrelac swatch (I was so naive) and then you slipped right back into my life. You begged and you pleaded. You promised that this time would be different. You swore that you loved me, and that you would be faithful. You vowed to bring in no more strange stitches, and to lose none that I had lovingly placed in your care. I know what you are--I put it in writing. I took each of your confounded charts and put them in writing so that there would be proof of your committment. Still, I wavered. You hurt me, Pomotamus. A girl doesn't forget a thing like that, a thing like tinking back so many times that her hands ached just because you couldn't stop partying.
But you know me. You know how to get under my skin. You pointed out that lovely ball of ocean colors, that handpainted yarn with the aquas and the blues. You whispered in my ear how stunning the two of you would be, what beautiful music we'd all three make together. I wanted to believe you. I wanted to believe you so very badly. Slowly, I touched the sea-colored yarn. I touched the pages of your pattern. It could work, I thought. It's crazy...but it could work. I could love again...couldn't I?

I started slowly, but then became more bold, working through the stitches with speed and confidence. It seemed like it was all coming true--like you really had come back to me for good. The stitches were right at the end of every row--no strangers, just as you promised. All the originals there. It was like a dream come true. As I said, I wanted so badly to believe you. I knitted and worked and even began to think that you had never really left me.
And then, this:

I was sucked in--so sucked in that I didn't notice how ghastly those yarn overs looked until I was over 24 rows into you. Didn't notice the gaping holes you were cunningly slipping into place. It's ironic, really, that the first time we dated I actually struggled to make those yarn overs look like holes; now they look like dinner plates could slide through them. What happened? Do I mean so little to you? Am I a plaything for your amusement?

I'm done with you, Pomotamus. You've broken my heart for the last time. You're heartless and cruel and you delight in my anguish. I'm burying you deep in the stash where you can't hurt anyone. But away from all the lovely handpainted sock yarn--I won't have you corrupting any more fibers in your vicious plots.

I've learned my lesson. Some socks just can't commit. I will go on, I will love again. The love, I suspect, may be pink......

Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Open Letter

To all the designers, manufacturers, and marketers of women's clothing.

Dear Sirs:

I did not write "sir or madam" because I am absolutely certain that no woman on this planet (or probably any other) would have had anything to do with some of the issues I would like to bring to your attention. Let's start with the obvious.

I am 41 years old. I am not 15, and I am not 97, blind, and taste-challenged (for the record, aging does not rob women of their taste in clothing. All of us would prefer not to look as though we were caught in an explosion in a polyester factory, no matter how old we happen to be.) I think that it should not be difficult to find something to wear that falls somewhere between "emaciated prostitute" and "my grandmother in her later years when her sleeves were perpetually stuffed with kleenex" (some women stuff their bras, my grandmother stuffed her sleeves. No doubt she had the shapliest elbows in town). And yet, I find myself repeatedly thwarted.

Last night my husband and I were patronizing a local shopping area. One of the clothing stores featured nothing but black and white clothing. Some of it was actually sort of attractive, although it was all carefully displayed on mannequins that could wear a size one only if they binged on m&m's the night before. Otherwise, it's triple 0 all the way. But you know, there wasn't a thing in that store that wasn't black and/or white and, like many women I know, I am not planning a back-up career as a mime. Color. I would like some color.

We also passed a store that caters primarily to a younger crowd, and I can respect that. I didn't expect to find anything for me in that store. But I could see inside it, and I was riveted by a giant poster of a young man in an open shirt and open jeans. The shirt was completely unbuttoned to reveal a smooth, hairless chest--which was explained by the open jeans, and the fact that there was enough curly hair hanging out of there to make me think he might be trying to smuggle a midget with an afro into the movies (I'm thinking all his body hair must have migrated crotchward for the winter). Seriously--if that guy sneezed we would have all gotten to meet his little friend, willy, right up close and personal. Does that really sell clothes? I mean, I was so concerned about the possible appearance of his personal trouser mouse, that I couldn't tell you anything about the clothes he was wearing. Maybe young people are more blase about these things....but I just don't see how a semi-naked man sells clothes. Unless people feel sorry for him and buy clothes to send to him and keep him warm. It's like those bathing suit advertisements that show a nearly naked woman posing strategically, wearing nothing but a necklace or a coconut, and there's a scrap of string too small to knit a swatch with draped over a nearby tree branch, and the caption says "swimwear by Snooty McNaked Beach Attire, $350 each piece". You're kidding, right? I can't even SEE the so-called swimwear. I could knit myself one out of cashmere that would have 10 times the coverage and it STILL wouldn't cost me $700. C'mon guys. Have a heart here.

Jeans. Now, jeans are a big problem. They seem to come in two styles: unflattering, tapered, and so high-waisted that the wearer can tuck the waistband into her bra if she can't find a belt; or tight, embellished, and so low-waisted that they should come with a coupon for a free bikini wax. For your edification: jeans are not carnival prize boards. They do not need seven pounds of studs, glitter, flowers, etc. Neither do they need to be pre-torn and ripped. Seriously, I'm clumsy enough. If I own them for a few months, they'll tear all by themselves. And as for that whole "distressed" thing....the only thing I've noticed about those is that I'm more distressed when I look at the price tag than a pair of pants will EVER be. I'm not asking for the moon here. I want simple, dignified jeans. I want them to be blue, straight but not tapered, and I want to neither lose them under my boobs nor lend a whole new meaning to "Vulvar Awareness Week" when I wear them (there really is a "vulvar awareness week", but I'm pretty sure it means being aware of your own rather than making everyone else painfully aware of it). I'd like to be able to get through a metal detector when I wear them, and I'd like to have the opportunity to rip them myself--or better yet, not rip them at all.

Speaking of jeans, since they are clearly not going to have even a nodding acquaintance with anything above my pubic line in my fashion lifetime, could you at least throw me a bone and make shirts slightly longer than an underdeveloped dishcloth? A thermometer would look slightly chubby in that sort of privates-grazing-jeans-and-dishcloth-shirt look. Look around you (unless you're in your local Barbie aisle, which is wear I strongly suspect you get much of your inspiration). Women have soft curves. We're supposed to. Honest. And we don't all want to walk around looking as though we've just been prepped for abdominal surgery.

Oh, and that line of clothing labelled "ethnic". First of all, how many ethnic groups do you think there are in the world? It's okay, don't sprain a brain cell. There are a huge number of ethnic groups in the world, wearing all sorts of clothes. And yet, "ethnic" in the fashion industry seems to refer only to an assortment of gauzy clothes made of cheap cotton that will shrink in 30% humidity, and that are studded with 500 beads and/or sequins that are guaranteed to fall off the first time the garment is washed. Oh, and tiered, wrinkly skirts that I believe are called broomstick skirts, because no one larger or curvier than a broomstick can actually wear them. No wonder you simply call them "ethnic". What real ethnic group would claim this stuff?

Look, I know I sound demanding. I want simple, flattering, stylish clothes that don't make me look like a stripper or like I'm waiting for someone to knit me a lap robe. I'm middle-aged, I have money, and I shop. Don't make me get cranky.

Ms. F. Knitingale

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pink Trees

We have these pink trees all over right about which I mean trees all covered with pink flowers, not some strange alcholic nightmare trees in the spirit of pink elephants or something. This is because it is trying to be Spring, and I know this because the frogs are singing their hearts out every night in search of love (Mr. K says they're so loud tonight that even the UGLY frogs are going to get lucky....which begs the question of what constitutes an ugly frog...but I digress), the indoor/outdoor kitties are spending more time outside and coming in all covered with bits of grass from rolling in it exultantly, and the lawn is starting to look as though I could lose a car in it if I wasn't careful--which means that the riding mower and I will soon be having our annual stand off, wherein it tries to pretend it didn't intentionally tree me off of its back (I really did get treed off a riding mower, seriously--could I make something that stupid up?) and I try to pretend I didn't flood the motor about twelve times and we both try to pretend that we aren't secretly plotting the other's demise. Spring.

So these pink trees are all over everywhere, including our own back yard. I know these to be Flowering Cherry trees, and Mr. K knows them to be Redbud trees. The discussion suggests that either we are both incredibly stubborn, or one or both of us needs more to do. To wit:

Mr. K: "Oh, look! Another redbud tree!"
Me: "That's a flowering cherry."
Mr. K: "No, it's a rosebud tree."
Me: "A rosebud tree? I thought you said redbud tree."
Mr. K: "You're right-it's a redbud tree."
Me: "I never said it was a redbud tree!"
Mr. K: "Well, it's not a rosebud tree."
Me: "....I...."

Ultimately, and because we are both in a state somewhat prior to employment and therefore somewhat bereft of terribly important things to which we might attend, we decided to look both trees up on the internet and thus solve this earth shattering dilemna. We found this picture of a Redbud tree:

And this photo of flowering cherry trees:

Mr. K now feels vindicated:

Mr. K: "See? The ones around here are redbud trees! The bark is exactly the same."

Me: " can't even SEE the bark!"

Mr. K: "Then how do you know it's not the same as our trees?"

Me: "Okay, fine. Go out and look at the tree in the back yard and come tell me what it looks like."

Mr. K: "But it's dark out there."

Me: "Then how can you tell it's not a flowering cherry?"

And so it went. Finally I read on one of the websites that Redbud trees are mostly native to the Eastern and Southern United States, and that one type is native to Oklahoma--just one state away from where he grew up. I pointed this out, making the generous concession that it was an honest mistake on his part--he grew up in Kansas and there probably were many redbud trees there. To which he replied "Just because they're not native here doesn't mean they can't come here."

Well, yes. I have seen many tourist trees in this area. You can always tell them. They are invariably wearing flat shoes and have cameras in their branches and want pictures taken of themselves in front of the Space Needle. That would explain the abundance of these pink trees in Seattle Center, the area around the Space Needle.

I also tried pointing out that Debi's husband is terribly allergic to flowering cherry trees and reacts to all the pink trees around here, so therefore.....

Mr. K said "Ah, so you're arguing about the type of tree based on the allergic reaction of someone? How do you know he's not allergic to redbud trees as well?" My response that "Because we don't have redbud trees around here." apparently didn't hold much water with my scientist husband.

The moral of the story is this: Mr. K needs to be working. I need to be less crazed about school. And we need to ignore the pink trees. We have some lovely Japanese maple about which we both completely agree.

In a more serious aside, I want to send as much love as one blog can hold to our own dear Angie of Hickory Pill. Ang is thinking about stopping her blog and, while I don't know the details (and totally respect her right to privacy) I know it's because of something someone else said or did. Ang, I love you to pieces. I hope you don't let someone else take your creativity and humor and joy away from us. I would miss you horribly. You are a gem, and I'm holding you close in my heart as you make your way through this.

Today's Quote, courtesy of Hafiz (and with Angie in mind): "The heart is the thousand stringed instrument that can only be tuned with love." Ang, I'm sending lots of love to your precious heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Assorted Nonsense

First things first: Happy Lips Appreciation Day (a day early....the opposite of procrastination, I believe, is the tendency to bounce in one's chair impatiently while failing miserably to wait for something in a mature fashion). My reasoning (if I have any, which is questionable) is either that many of you will not be reading this until tomorrow, or that I spaced out which day was which and had already downloaded the picture and was too lazy to change it. If you're a betting soul, place money on the latter.

Second things second: Ang, you asked the other day if I live way far away from the college and if that's why I get up at 5:00am on school days. I actually live about 20 minutes from school, but I exercise for an hour every morning due to my ass's unfortunate tendency to disguise itself as a barn if I don't. It's really quite a cunning disguise--everything but the chickens (which is good...cause who wants a chicken butt?)--and yet, I quash it. Truly, I am the enemy of body part creativity.
I would like to say that I'm one of those hard-body types who drink protein shakes and pump iron and have little etched shadows all over where their muscles show up....but I'm afraid one of you might hurt yourselves laughing at that one, and rightly so. The reality is me stumbling out of bed and into a pair of old flannel boxers and a stretched out jog bra, a t-shirt that will likely be inside out, and a pair of socks, and then installing myself on one of our exercise machines with a blank look on my face until my legs give out, my heart stops, or the news on TV stops being interesting (the real exercise buffs will tell you that watching TV while exercising is wimpy and takes away from the workout; I say that I'm older and more cunning than they are and they can just tell me that to my old, weary face any time they think they're tough enough). Sometimes I unravel thrift store sweaters while I exercise, but learn from my mistakes if you're considering this. Seems that the sprockets on exercise bikes don't actually like mohair (which rather makes me wonder why it felt compelled to eat the stuff...but that's another story. A pink, fluffy, greasy, and terribly sad story.).

Monica is back at last, having finally ended her 20 days of tyranny and oppression by the little gremlins that live inside all computers (I failed computer science once...I'm not sure why, seeing as how I have such an obvious, razor-sharp grasp of their inner workings). Hi, Monica! Welcome back to cyberland. In your honor, I offer some cat porn.

Another one of Miss, our own personal egg on stilts (seriously, she has a round little body and toothpick legs and the vet assures us she's quite healthy--just funny looking...which I'm pretty sure isn't a REAL medical term). She looks quite deep and mysterious here...but I can assure you that she's almost certainly thinking something along the lines of "chair soft. chair good. mmmmm." Not the brightest spark, our little stilted egg.

I know, though, that you're waiting for Ed, so here you go--a veritable orgy of Edness:

Yes, I was lying on the floor with my cat. Trust me when I say you are no more puzzled by this behavior than he was.

I like to kid myself that he's nestling his head against mine affectionately, and not actually laying it down in disgust because his humans are so impossibly strange. It's not like he can tell anyone any different, right?

While I'm here, I'd also like to make note of a strange burglar that seems to be visiting our home. He doesn't take anything, so I'm inclined to think it's some sort of strange fixation (the mental health issue--not the stretchy sock yarn from Cascade). Indeed, since Mr. K assures me that he always empties out his Pepsi cans prior to leaving them for me to take to the recycling bin, and since I dumped a third of a can of the stuff down my Seahawks fuzzy pants this morning on the way to said recycling bin (which, by the way, I feel certain will have a negative impact on my cheering ability...someone has a lot to answer for if the upcoming season goes badly), it is clear that the burglar is actually pouring soda back into the empty cans while we sleep! Not only that, he also takes the bread out after Mr. K has conscientiously put it away, sprinkles crumbs all over the counter after Mr K cleans them up, and takes Mr. K's clothes from the dirty clothes hamper to spread maliciously around the room. A right little git, this burglar. I haven't caught him in the act...but who else could it be? I can't think of a single other soul who would watch Mr. K put fresh towels out and then take them and put them right back in the linen closet so that I have to run down the hall wet and naked to get one.

Well, okay. Mr. K might get something out of that one.....

Do any of you have a burglar like mine? Could it be some sort of strange crime spree? I think we should all be very careful.

Thought for the day, courtesy Robert Heinlein, and appropriate for the upcoming chocolate week: "All things in moderation....including moderation."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day of Days

Those of you who know me well may already suspect that, were I to be issued a kindergarten-style report card, I would not get a row of happy faces under such topics as "waits patiently", "relinquishes control", or "accepts the unknown". It is for this and a variety of similar reasons (more specifically, that I am an easily wound up control freak with the patience of the yarn starved at a free yarn giveaway) that I find myself attempting various sorts of distraction from the many unknowns in my life (unknowns such as: "will I get into nursing school?" "will I work myself into a rabid frenzy waiting to find out?" "will foam around my mouth be considered a disqualifying factor if I am selected for an interview?" "when will Mr. K find the job of his dreams?" "how many cupboards and drawers will he leave open in the interim?" and "how many times can one man pee in the same toilet without actually recognizing the boundaries of that toilet?"). For instance:

Did you know that today is National Pi Day? (Mmm...I like chocolate pi.....) No, really. It is. National 3.1415926 etc. Day. How cool of a number do you have to be to get your own day? I mean, I think 5,468 is a perfectly lovely number and IT doesn't have its own day. I am a bit surprised that they don't let us have it earlier in the month--between the 3rd and the 4th-- and call it March 3.14th.

It's also National Children's Craft Day which, amazingly, is not followed tomorrow by National Scrape Paint Out of the Carpet Day, National Glitter All Over Hell's Half Acre Day, or National Try to Get Glue Off the Dog Day.

I'm personally looking forward to the 19th which, I'm reliably informed, is National Chocolate Covered Caramel Day, possibly because it is the start of National Chocolate Week. It's also National Act Happy Day but c'mon--if I have chocolate covered caramels, I don't have to ACT happy. Seriously, guys. I couldn't make this stuff up....although it's worth noting that March 26 is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. I may participate in that one....assuming I can think of something more interesting than "Sit on the Couch and Knit Day". The 27th is Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, and I think we could have some fun with that one. Always assuming any of us can come up with anything stranger than "I'm gonna hire a wino to decorate our home" (it's a real title folks, I swear on my sock yarn stash).

Oh, and today is also National Organize Your Home Office Day, but I'm saving that one for the 23rd, which is also National Near Miss Day and National Puppy Day. I figure if I don't manage to miss the whole cleaning the office thing, maybe I'll find a puppy in there. Either way, it's a win.

Now, if you want to think bigger, this week offers us National Toad Hollow Week, International Brain Awareness Week (a week too early for my finals, tragically...but it's safe to say that my brain has suffered a lack of awareness for some time so it's no surprise), World Clown Week and, I swear to all that's wooly, Turkey Vultures Return to the Living Sign week. I have read that at least 11 times and I STILL have no idea what that means. I only know that the idea of turkey vulture zombies is a tad bit.....concerning. I'm going to sit by the windows tonight and watch for large birds with glazed eyes seeking brains. I know that the responsible among you will want to join me in this. National Procrastination Week was the 5th through the 11th but I apparently put it off and missed it.

Now, March does happen to be National Craft Month (yay!) which certainly appeals to me, but it also happens to be National Talk to Your Teen About Sex Month, the combination of which leads to some mind-boggling thoughts, doesn't it? Somehow I envision some dedicated mom out there making a triptych about the miracle of ovulation out of assorted colors and shapes of macaroni glued onto cardboard panels. I think Knitty has a pattern for a knitted uterus...that would fit right in, although the average teenager would suffer an injury laughing when presented with a stuffed, knitted uterus. Given the challenges of all this, I think it's good that March is also National Optimism Month (that mom with the macaroni is going to need it). It's also National Umbrella Month (in case you have to optimistically make macaroni art about sex for your teenager in the rain) and International Ideas Month (in case someone overseas has a better idea than macaroni pictures to optimistically teach your teenager about sex in the rain). It all comes together. That said, it's also March to College Days and it's worth considering that if the college in question is quite far away, your teen may arrive there too tired to think about sex. Then again, that may be the optimist in me.

It's also National Mirth Month and National Caffeine Awareness month; an interesting combo in that without the latter, Mr. K can safely be said to possess absolutely none of the former. None. Moreover, I think it impossible for a man who drinks two pots of coffee and several cans of Pepsi every day to be any more aware of caffeine than he is. But at least he's mirthful about it.

Okay, yes. I am clearly taking leave of my senses. I'm not sure when National Out of Your Mind with the Infernal WAITING day is, but you can bet I'm counting the days. Every National one of them.

Source for the above stuff that strangely amuses Ms. K today can be found here.

Quote for the day, courtesy Louisa May Alcott: "I'm no longer afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my own ship."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Safe Place

This a segment of our garage with a segment of our little car in it.

You may wonder why; trust me. It will all come to make sense. Or perhaps not. It makes sense to me...which is not necessarily indicative.
Monday (yesterday) dawned far too early, given that the powers that be felt it necessary to turn 4:00 am into 5:00 am over the weekend,because 5:00 am is apparently just not quite horrible enough on a Monday morning. And you know, I actually tried to be a good sport about it. I mean, yeah--I whined and complained and ranted...but that's a pretty good sport in my book, considering I had to get up when my body was thoroughly convinced that it was 4:00 am, and I further had to go try to comprehend chemistry (I often wonder who's bright idea it was to write that book in esperantu, or whatever strange language it's apparently in...but that's a post for another day). And, given that even finding my way to school seemed like more challenge than I could handle....well, I think ranting and whining was pretty sportsmanlike on my part. I didn't send packages of garbage to all the lawmakers with the promise of more to follow if they didn't repeal Daylight Savings Time, right?

So, back to Monday morning. I got up, I worked out, I showered, I found more or less matching clothes. I'm pretty sure the undergarments were on the underneath. I don't know if my socks matched...that seemed like far too lofty a goal. But I had my backpack and I had my purse and I had my water bottle and I idea where my keys were. I always place them in the ceramic bowl in the kitchen so I won't lose them, but they were not there (proving my wisdom in having such a bowl since, clearly, once they weren't in the bowl they were, in fact, lost). I remained calm (ran around swearing and tearing my hair out...same thing), and mentally went through what I'd been wearing when I came home from Debi's the day before: jeans (checked the pockets, no dice--or keys, for that matter), a long sleeved tee with no pockets, and a cardigan with no pockets. My socks didn't seem to have pockets, either. I checked the next most obvious place: my purse. Again, no keys. At this point, it was 7:20 am by the actual clock, 6:20 am by my body clock, and apparently half past something insane by my mental clock--my mental acuity simply flipped me off, turned over, and went back to sleep. I needed to leave for school about five minutes prior to this moment.
Mr. K woke up then, for whatever reason (I'm fairly certain that my frantic tearing apart of the house had nothing to do with it, although the whimpering may have been an issue) and together we searched my purse five times, every coat on the coat rack (including coats of his that I've never worn), every drawer in the kitchen, the garbage pail, the sofa, the computer room, the ingnition of the car, the floor of the car, both seats of the car, my purse again, and the car two more times. It was now about 10 minutes past "I have a hope in hell of getting anywhere near school on time." and about 2 minutes past "I'm completely doomed". By this time, I was starting to wonder if I had mysteriously teleported home the day before and wondering further if it was too early to call Debi and see if she had my keys....or my car (I was a little afraid, at that point, to check and make sure it was there).
In desperation, I asked Mr. K for the keys to his shop, as I had gone in to see him and the other testosterone party boys before coming in the house the day before. I figured it was unlikely I had laid the keys down on one of the assortment of truly fascinating types of Ick that my hubby dutifully collects out there, and I was right. But tracing my steps seemed like a good idea....or rather, the only thing I could think of, other than "my bed is so soft and I fit so well in it and why am I outside in the cold and the dark when the world is clearly intent on pinning a kick-me sign to my back?", which seemed unproductive. It was as I was walking into the garage that it suddenly came to me. I had come back from the testosterone boys and stopped to take my things--knitting bag, camera, purse, water bottle--out of the car. But my hands were full, and I had no I set the keys on the nearest handy surface:

No, not in it--hopefully even I'M not enough of a nutcase to lock my keys in the safe. No, I placed them on top of it. If you look closely at the top photo, you'll see that the safe is right next to the car. The car that I looked through with a fine toothed comb at least three times. The car that you can get in only by walking past the safe.
I hate you, Daylight Savings Time. Seriously.
I'd like to say that the day got better from there but, really, what are the odds? In truth, I scraped up the toe of one of my favorite black boots, slammed the end of my ponytail in the car door, tried to rush out of class with my backpack upside down, dropped my diet cream soda so that it was cleverly transformed into a sweetened volcano, and found that I'd lost 8% from a biology test where I was simply asked to name 15 structures an air molecule must pass to get to the bloodstream...and then marked down for not picking the same exact 15 the instructor chose, even though he admitted we had no way of knowing which 15 he had in mind. I could have written "it goes through the tube-y thing, and then the flappy thing, and then that icky sort of pink thing" and not done any better or worse. It was not my favorite day.

But it wasn't all bad. I came home to this in the back yard:

I was a little surprised, given the day, that she didn't try to trample me or vomit on my shoes or something, but she remained quite sweet and lovely......
...apparently having not gotten the "mess with Ms. K day" memo.
The moral of the story: If someone tells you to make sure you put your keys in a safe place, you tell them Ms. K found the safe to be the very LAST place she thought of looking. A bowl place or a purse place would have been muuuuuch better.
And my quote for the day (because I thought it might be cool to start having these, and will probably continue to think so until I find myself totally unable to think of one and then I'll wonder whose stupid idea this was. We're safe for now): It's always okay in the end. If it isn't okay, it isn't the end.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Dragon is Slain!!

For years I have shied rather determinedly away from any sort of suggestion that I work entrelacs for any purpose, for a number of reasons. Not least among these is the fact that I tried them for the first time over 20 years ago when I was a brand new knitter. What can I say--knitting doth breed optimism. Needless to say, the entrelacs laughed heartily at my hubris (I know, a person really should keep her hubris covered while knitting...I should have known that) and then proceeded to transform itself into a pile of string and knots with a taunting expression on whatever yarn uses for a face. It wasn't pretty. Naturally, it did not occur to me that one teensy reason for my failure might just possibly maybe be the fact that I could measure my knitting career to date with a good stopwatch, the fact that I had absolutely no teacher of any kind and was self-taught from a book with truly crappy line drawings substituting for photos (I can't prove that they were drawn from hand shadows...but I'd bet good wool on it), or even the fact that I had never seen such a stitch in person at all. Ever. Instead, I made the logical-to-the-local-whacknut leap to the conclusion that entrelacs and I were doomed to meet only as foes, glaring at one another across knitting shops and festivals and never deigning to meet on the field of battle.

It doesn't help, either, that I saw a pattern for a knee-length cardigan made entirely in entrelacs that was about as flattering as a woven wool phone booth with a belt. Unless the model in question is actually a 5'6" rectangle with a head and hands. In that case, it's a very honest garment.
Finally, though, Interweave Knits threw down the gauntlet (most likely a knitted one with the appearance of little woven, knitted strips) by publishing a pattern for entrelacs sock. Truly. This is where I mention that, in spite of my singular hatred of entrelacs, I also have borne and continue to bear a hideous fascination for them that can only be described as obsession. That pattern continues to be the one that got away and, well, ask any fisherman. That just eats at a person. You start to see that fish in your dreams, you know? And putting them on socks....well, that was the ultimate "nanny-nanny boo-boo" as far as I was concerned. I mean, we all KNOW how I can't resist cool sock patterns. The entrelacs, with the help of the entire Interweave Knits crew, were taunting me. I'd had enough. I corralled Debi (thankfully, a delightful person and a very good sport) and made her tackle them with me--the moral support was much appreciated.

And now, I can safely say, the beast has been subdued. To wit:

The final row isn't complete--it really does balance out much more nicely than it looks in the photo. But the point for any responsible, mature knitter is this: I won, you little wooly bastard. I completely and utterly won. And don't even think about messing with me again or I'll make you into one of those ruffled toilet paper holders that look like a hat. You know I'll do it, too. In. Your. FACE.

Ahem. Yes, maturity is surely where it's at. In any case, I'm not completely sure I like picking up stitches well enough to make anything large out of entrelacs--the phone booth cardigan is right out--but the socks are so in my sights. They'd better be ready. Debi's entrelacs are being worked in two colors because she is a braver soul than I am and I'm hoping she puts up a photo on her blog because it's going to be really awesome looking. In addition to moral support for me, she also had a little gift for my already terribly spoiled inner child:

Lest you think my inner child kicked her in the shins and stole it or something, it was actually a trade. She fell as much in love with a yarn in my sock collection as I did with the Hot Flash and it was fate. Yarn was traded and everyone went away happy. My inner child wants to move in with her now, I suspect, fickle little wench that she is (the IC--not Debi).

In other news, Ed has concluded that I am the meanest cat mommy in the entire world for putting his catnip in a sock where he can't get to it to eat it (he actually eats the stuff...sort of like a hash brownie without the brownie).

I think that the whole process of desperately licking wool with a prickly tongue must lead to some small amount of frustration because Ed began to look a little maniacal...some cats just can't hold their nip:

No Knitingales were harmed in the taking of this photo...although it was a near thing.

Lastly, I offer a picture of the first rainbow Trekking sock, finished and kirchenered and happily awaiting its mate. Finally, a well-behaved sock! Between resistant yarn, sneeringly superior techniques, and bratty inner children...well. I needed some compliance:

By the way, am I the only one who thinks the word "entrelacs" sounds like some kind of new laxative? Yes?'s probably just me.