The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Friday, September 28, 2007

Politically Correctional

We are a careful people in the Pacific Northwest. Seriously. We are careful about our environment, careful about our manners, careful about each others feelings. This is good, in some ways. In others, it's about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, and about as functional. I was talking to Marianne (I love Marianne...have I mentioned that?) about the fact that employers in Washington usually do not give references about former employees. They don't want to say anything bad that might prevent someone from getting another job. Hence, you can steal the pens, sleep with the boss's wife, and pick your nose with a pencil from every desk in the place and no one will tell your next prospective employer that you're a jerk. We just don't do that.

As I told Marianne, Human Relations folk have learned some basic codes to help them (I was in HR for a time), such as the phrase "is this person eligible for rehire?" which sounds like it means "are there any legalities that would keep him from working for you again?" but really means "If you had a choice between taking this person back and trimming your nose hairs with a chain saw, which would you do?" In this instance, a "yes" answer means "Bob's okay, go ahead and hire him" whereas a "no" answer means "if you have a chimp you could strategically shave, hire him instead. You'll be happier in the long run." Given my HR experience, I am aware of many such secret codes around here, including things that might appear on a performance evaluation:

"Jill has a wide variety of unique skills" actually means "Jill stays really busy, but none of us have a damned clue what she's actually doing other than the fact that it's not, apparently, her work."

"Bob has strong opinions" means "Bob is an arrogant SOB who should be muzzled before attending any meeting, even one about where to order out for lunch."

"There are a number of growth opportunities available to Susan this quarter" means "Susan is a peabrain who couldn't staple two pieces of paper together without calling tech support."

"I would like to see David work towards an upper level transfer" means "I hate this guy, but I also hate Bob upstairs....I see a perfect solution here."

"Leadership opportunities could be a stretch goal for Carla" means "People wouldn't follow Carla out of a burning building if their clothes were on fire."

"Rick has quite a spirit of fun" means "The most productive thing Rick's done all week was to fashion rude shapes out of paper clips. It was a big week for him."

"Lori can be a bit unpredictable at times" means "Lori's mood swings have mood swings and she has a mean overhand. Do not under any circumstance allow her to have a heavy stapler."

"Jon thinks outside the box" means "Jon is a weirdo who probably has some sort of strange slingshot device to put on his underwear. None of us want to think too hard about this."

"Mary gets along well with her colleagues" means "If Mary ever stopped bs'ing and did her job, maybe we could remember what we hired her for."

"Jim could work a bit on boundaries" means "Jim needs to stop staring at everyone's boobs before he gets smacked smartly across the puss."

"Alison has a strong sense of fair play" means "Alison is a whiny little git who could probably become president of the company if she spent a tenth of the time she spends complaining actually WORKING on something."

"Mike may not be a perfect fit for the culture of this corporation" means "Mike smells like a baboon, farts out loud in meetings, and picks his teeth with a ball point pen. We can't figure out how to get rid of him."

"Beth is not fully aware of her assets" means "Beth keeps bending over in skirts no wider than belts that barely cover her hoo-ha. We're all afraid to mention this to her, lest she sue for sexual harrassment."

"It would be difficult to list all of Evan's finer points" means "I can't think of anything good to say about this man, other than the fact that he goes home at the end of the day."

"I would like to see Meredith to improve her skills" means "I really wish Meredith HAD some skills. I don't know that anything would actually help, but if she was in class, she wouldn't be here."

"Keith is generous with resources" means "this guy has so many company pens at home that we may soon have to resort to crayons."

But I love you guys, and that's the truth no matter how I say it. I think I'm up to 117 squares (I need to do another count) and tomorrow I'll show you the beautiful ones I got from Lily in California. Lily, you are too cool for words.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


To: The Big Cheeses at XYZ Allergy Clinic (where I work)
Re: Suggestions

Dear Sirs:

It has come to my attention that the clinic wherein I spend 9 hours of each and every weekday is conspicuously missing a suggestion box. I can only conclude that this is a dreadful oversight on your part. Either that, or the places I've worked that DID have suggestions boxes have somehow gotten to you before I could. In any case, I know that I have a great many useful and creative ideas for improving my workplace no matter what the narrowminded folks at the nursing home thought (and I still think jell-o olympics was a great idea). For instance:
  • A chocolate bar. By which I don't mean a bar of chocolate but, rather, a bar like one you have for liquour, only with chocolate. You can't tell me none of you have ever longed for a hit of chocolate with 80% cacao. Gotta love that 80 proof stuff. Alternatively, perhaps
  • A chocolate fountain. It could be anywhere in the office, as long as sometime around 4:00 we could stave off the "please please PLEASE get me out of here" syndrome by dunking a chunk of pound cake in molten milk chocolate, oh yeah.
  • I think we would all benefit from a screaming room--a padded, soundproofed area where we could retreat when the 6th person in an hour has called to say that it is terribly urgent and they're very upset because they saw the doctor last week and they don't feel better. And no, they didn't bother to fill their prescriptions...why, is that important?
  • Similarly, while I agree that it is not generally acceptable to be rude to patients, there are times when anyone in the free world with two brain cells would feel impelled to expound on the moron-ness of some of these callers. There should be such a thing as "justifiable smartassedness", by which statute we can ask someone how they got themselves dressed today, given that they are no smarter than a lobotomized chicken and by the way, the underwear go on BENEATH the pants, just in case they didn't know. The guy who wanted us to test him for allergy to marijuana probably fits into that category. I hate to be pedantic but....maybe don't smoke it if it makes you cough? Call me crazy.
  • I understand that some of our patients rely heavily on the samples left by drug reps, and I further know that it is probably important to endure the constant stream of them going in and out of the office, unctuous as any car salesman. But, I wonder, would it hurt to require the drug companies to make all their reps handsome, shirtless young men from Australia? If that could happen, I'd probably quit accusing them of eating their own young when they hover around the office and get in the way and generally drive me batshit.
  • Rude patients should have to pay more. Sort of a "snottiness tax", if you will. For example, the patients who breeze in at 1:33 for a 1:15 appt and then, when the doctor agrees to see them after he finishes with the 1:30 (who was on time) demand to know why it has to take so long because don't we know they're in a HURRY? I think if a person is going to be that way, then a 15% surcharge for putting up with them is perfectly reasonable.
  • I think afternoon dodgeball would be great stress reliever. And it could make it more interesting for patients negotiating their way through the clinic if there were big, red, rubber balls whizzing by.
  • On slow days (such as today) we should be allowed to make up fake tests and see how many of them we can get the patients to do. "Okay Mr. Jones, it's very important that we find out how long you can keep this ping pong ball in the air by tipping your head back and blowing on it. You'll also need to make a sort of 'paa-aarp' sound while you do it." Or "Mrs. Smith, we can learn a lot more if you'll spin around in circles and buzz like an angry wasp. Oh, and flap your arms."
  • Patients should be taught the calming effects of knitting, and so will definitely need someone willing to spend time every day teaching them and knitting with them. It'd be tough, but I'm willing to do it. I'll take one for the team.
  • All staff should receive a monthly "screw this for a lark" token, which allows us to respond to the lengthy set of instructions by a doctor ("he'll need a CT scan and I want these prescriptions called in for him and then you can give him samples of these others and ask him if he's still taking this and then get him to sign a release and get his old records--he's pretty sure the doc he went to has a name starting with an 'm'...or maybe an 'n'--and then call the hospital and sit on hold for 20 minutes so you can find out that he's wrong and didn't actually have a ct scan there before and then can you make me some copies of this form?") by simply saying "Not a chance, White Coat." And not get in trouble.
  • "I have an eye problem--I just can't see coming in to work" should occasionally be considered a legitimate excuse.
  • The fact that I didn't throw a stapler at the triage guy's head when he asked me snidely what I was "babbling about now" should be counted on my review as "creative problem solving". The fact that I then called him a dick should not be held against me. He is one.

I know that change is difficult and takes time, but I am confident that you will see the wisdom in my ideas and do the right thing.


Ms. K

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Okay, Where Was I?

These days, that could mean anything from "what was I telling you about before the petty irritations of getting dressed and earning a living somehow popped their nasty little heads up AGAIN (I went to work YESTERDAY! What am I--a slave?)?" to "I have no idea why I came in here or what I wanted or what I was doing to lead me here but I hope I figure it out soon...and I hope it involved cookies." This aging thing sucks.

This time, I think it means the first one, the what was I telling you about thing. ANYHOW. First things first--the newest batch of squares:

I carefully named these photos in my files--the top one as "josquares" (from Jo in England) and the bottom as "patsquares" (from Pat in England)so I would remember which was which. What this most likely means is that I got it completely bassackwards, even with the envelopes in front of me (and three of them with tags on them) and if so, feel free to correct me. And come beat me viciously about the head and shoulders with a skein of cashmere. Bring it on--I deserve it. No really, I can take it.

Take a close look at the bottom picture. It didn't pick up as well as I'd hoped in the photo, but Pat (if indeed it was Pat) worked this really lovely leaf pattern into the corner of the square and I'm just dying to know how she did it. WAY cool.

Next things next: I've saved every envelope you guys have sent me squares in, so I spread them out on the floor and got Gracie to come pick a couple for me (the first two she touched won). She apparently feels that Dianne in VA should receive the batch of milk-chocolate topped toffee bars I made on Sunday and tossed in the freezer (a dozen headed your way, Sweetie) and that Sarah Burrows in Oxford should get the Koigu (I'll wing it your way, Love) that was, coincidentally, donated by Dianne. Gracie has a real need to find order in the universe, apparently. I'll get these wrapped and to the post office this weekend. Thanks you guys, and Dianne--if you're diabetic or allergic or hate cookies or whatever, sing out soon. We can figure something else out.

Speaking of Gracie (which I was), she and the other little beasts have invented some new games and activities to keep them occupied in the long fall/winter months. The first, played with great intensity last night, is called "Let's Make the Hairless Couch Monkey Scream". It's accomplished by locating a large, hooved spider (I have no idea what kind they are, but I swear by all my sock yarn that they're as big as my craving for wool and they seriously look like they have little hooves), and then chasing it around the living room. It is apparently quite important while playing this game that you don't accidentally kill the spider--if you do, the couch monkey won't scream. Much.

Another facet of this game is the importance of chasing the spider directly at the thumbed one, because she apparently thinks that it is carrying some sort of deadly weapon and will shriek in a satisfying fashion. The faster it runs, the more she screams. There is no fatigue factor, here. She will scream as loud with the 10th one as she does with the first. Sometimes louder, depending on whether or not you can get it to run across her foot.

Another enjoyable winter game was invented by Miss. This involves waiting until the couch monkey is firmly situated on the couch (her natural habitat, after all) with a huge blanket of squares on her lap which she is finishing. The first step is to go lay down on the blanket. Then, roll sideways until you appear to be nothing so much as a weeble gone bad and gaze up happily. Purr. The hairless one will attempt to shift you--don't go for it. Dig the claws firmly into the blanket. This will elicit horrified shrieks. (Cats are somewhat one-note when it comes to games. If it leads to food or screaming on the part of the thumbed ones, it's a good enough game.) Wait until the human gives up and starts petting you, muttering as she does about the cost of having a handknit blanket cleaned of cat hair. Then begin to knead happily and deeply. With all claws. When the screaming starts, you can either play "I don't have any idea what you're making all that noise for, but I love you" while rubbing head firmly against thumbed hand, or you can leap terrified from the lap with claws still stuck in the blankie. This last maneuver may even elicit gentle weeping.

Gussie is, of course, a simpler creature. She likes the heatvent game, wherein she somehow manages to contort her lithe, meezer self into a hairy rectangle the precise size and shape of the heatvent. She then lies on it through several furnace cycles, until the skin on her belly gets dry and she can shed maximum amounts of hair onto anything light colored or intended for someone else or both. Such as blankets. I love cats, I do.

Oh, and Ed is very fond of the squares game. This involves waiting until the houseape is carefully laying wooly squares on the floor in hopes of creating a pleasing arrangement, and then wandering casually by and snagging one of them to toss across the room. Or rolling in the middle of them and sending them flying. Or just batting them one at a time while my patience ticks down and then rubbing his nose firmly against my face at the exact moment that I would have shoved his handsome little rear end outside. Note the "would have". I'm such a pushover.

I'm going back to the wooly squares, and to lift Gussie off the heatvent before all the hair falls off of her and I can use her as a mobile dry erase board and have to hang a dry erase marker around her neck.

Oh, and no worries to those of you who mentioned trying to rush more squares in before the cut off. I still need 65 squares and am only too happy to take extras and try to make 3 more blankets for the families of the rescuers who were killed. Or for the homeless shelter. Or whatever. I won't cut you off, I promise. Bury me in squares. I'm totally good with that.

(By the way, did I mention how cool it is to join the squares, and know that I'm handling the very squares that you labored over? It's kind of like sitting together and making these blankets in a group. I'm weird like that. And in so many other ways....)

I Couldn't Wait....

It's crazy o'clock in the morning and I don't have the time for a proper post...but I have the patience of a 3-year-old on Christmas Eve and had to stop and quickly show you this picture:

Mother Teresa once said that "it's not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing". Whether you made one square or 40, you did this. I hope this makes you cry like it did me...I still can't look at it without getting teary!
At last count, 115 squares. 65 to go. For some reason, I have no doubt at all that we'll make it.
I'll write more tonight, with pics of the 5 newest squares (thanks Jo and Pat!) and the names of the recipients of the cookies and the koigu.
I'm starting to sound like one of those really irritating news shows, aren't I?--you know, the ones were Ms. Perpetually Chipper gazes smilingly into the camera and says something like "Are the salads in your supermarket harboring a deadly bacteria? We'll find out! But first, is your pet psychic? Here with the answer....."
Love you all. SO MUCH.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Mother-in -Law is a Superhero...

.......and other truths I've discovered recently.

Okay, so I haven't seen her exiting a phone booth in a pair of tights--but, then again, I haven't seen a full-length phone booth that closes up in at least 10 years and I'm pretty sure you could get arrested for changing into tights in one of those little half-booth things (especially given that it's the top half that's covered). I don't think she has a significant other who always manages to get kidnapped, an alter ego who looks precisely the same only with glasses, and I've never seen her flying over a city in underwear and a cape (which is probably just as well...I think that sort of behavior would concern me).

But there's this:

11 more squares she's whipped out. Remember the 21 she sent before that I showed you a picture of? That's not all of them, either. She sent another dozen or so prior to THAT. I should point out here that she also has a job--she's a nurse. See what I mean? A superhero for certain. If you get to Kansas and want to meet someone spectacular who will remind you of the innate goodness of the human spirit, just look for the woman with the flashing crochet hook (and not the flashing tights, cape, and/or underwear--she's not only pretty wonderful, she also has WAY better taste than that). Judy, I thank you yet again.

The same post brought these from Vivian in Greater Yarborough (am I the only one who sees that and wonders if there's a "Not so bad Yarborough" somewhere in England....?)

They are beautiful and soft and will make some families very happy. Look what else she sent--for one of YOU:

It's Colinette and I photographed it repeatedly to no avail--it still looks mud colored and I swear that it isn't. It's actually a lovely mix of muted greens that just about made me drool. Made in Wales, it made Vivian think of the mining towns there which she thought made it perfect. Vivian, I couldn't agree more. Thank you so very much.

Want to know what you all have accomplished so far?

110 squares.

No, really. I'm not joking. 110 (Lynn, I'm counting your big one as 4 because it takes the place of 4.). I counted twice because I couldn't believe we did that much that quickly. 70 more and we'll have all six blankets. I'll be putting as much together this weekend as I can and hope to have at least one completed blanket to show you by the end of it. If I ever again doubt that there is great goodness, great kindness, great love in the world, I need only look to you. I'll also be drawing a name or two this weekend for prizes. I'm thinking a skein of Koigu for one, a batch of something yummy for another. Stay tuned.

Other things (somewhat less lofty) that I've learned recently:

  • Using one's bare hand to entice the cat to play right before work (i.e., becoming a human cat toy) can lead to blood loss

  • One-eyed cats are faster than you might think

  • More precise, too

  • Also pointy on one end

  • Once at work, a finger with a deep scratch running alongside the nail and on down the inside of the pinky finger does not go well with the task of filling up the methyl alcohol burner from a huge and easily spilled jug

  • Jumping up and down while waving one hand frantically as though attempting to fly one-armed makes people look at you funny

  • I am not as bright as I look

  • The good people at WEBS have hatched a sinister plot to torment me. Given that I have not really seen many patterns that have completely charmed me for awhile, and given that I am now using any and all knitting time on the blankets and will be for awhile and so don't WANT to be charmed by any patterns, there can be no other explanation for the sweater that appears on the WEBS homepage (you'll see it if you click the above link--it's the brown sweater with the patterned sleeves) AND in the catalog viciously delivered to my home. This innocent looking sweater is now absolutely demanding to be allowed into my project queue.

  • The aforementioned evil sweater would also like to jump the queue and is attempting to convince me that I could start it before I finish anything else, it knows I'll get back to the other things, and really, wouldn't I love to wear it this winter? Ratbastard sweater.

  • There are catalogues that appear normal but are nevertheless somehow "sticky" and steadfastly refuse to be tossed into the recycle bin.

  • Just when you think you've seen everything, you can depend on someone to do something like come into the clinic concerned about the fact that when he goes into the sun or gets under a blanket.....he gets warm. People, I could not make this up if I tried.

  • There is something inexplicably charming about a 6-year-old girl with a lisp asking politely if we can test her for an allergy "to deerth and racoonth". I adore this child.

  • Drinking a full can of diet cream soda immediately before getting into the car to drive home in Friday traffic (I live only 12 minutes from work when there's no traffic...about a week and a half from work on Friday nights) can lead to wild thoughts about whether or not is is possible for a female to pee in a soda can. (Don't worry, I didn't try it. But it's amazing how reasonable it started to seem)

  • My top land speed record for the distance from car to bathroom once home is about .00007 seconds, assuming the way is clear of cats

  • Cats dislike being bowled over by a woman with a full bladder and a strange hopping gait

  • I am, again, not all that bright

I leave you with yet another rose picture, just because they're so darned pretty. I'm off to exercise and then start joining all those works of the heart. So many wonderful, huge hearts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Der Fladermous

This post has nothing whatever to do with these roses, but I still have some pics of the roses in Portland so I figured I'd toss 'em in here and there. Then again, I was going to write more about those questions in life that you really know don't have any good answers, and one of those was "Do you smell that? What IS that?" The answer to that question in that format is rarely roses, or fresh-baked bread, or even ground coffee beans--but rather, that funny smell in the garbage disposal or the yogurt that got forgotten in the back of the fridge. Some other questions with predictably negative answers:
  • "This wasn't your favorite sweater, was it?"
  • "Was that your car illegally parked out there?" (it's the word "was" that guarantees a bad outcome here)
  • "Are you going to wear that?"
  • "What did you think you were doing?"
  • "Don't you already have a lot of yarn?"
  • "Do you know what's IN that?" when voiced by someone with very healthy eating habits, just as you're about to suck down a triple chocolate milkshake or something else with 8 jillion grams of sugar and enough fat to grease up a cadillac.
  • "What are you doing Saturday?" is a good question when asked by a friend, a great question when asked by the hottie down the hall, and a really, really bad question when asked by your boss who is holding a stack of work and it's Friday afternoon.
  • "Did you see what the cat did?" is somehow never followed by "he swept up the cat litter he kicked out of the box and then painted a small but perfect pastel rendering of our house" but rather "I don't have time to clean it up."
  • "What's it supposed to be?" just has no good place in a conversation--particularly when applied to anything you just made and are proudly showing off.
  • "Did you hear that?" is great when listening for loons by a peaceful lake, and really bad when the house is dark and still and you just watched "Friday the 13th".

You get the drift. The worst one I've heard personally in the last few weeks was this one, uttered by Mr. K at about 9:00pm as we were sitting in the hot tub in the pitch dark, looking at stars--ready for this one? "Hey, listen to that squeaking. Do you hear the bats?"

Do I hear the--did you say BATS????

This was shortly followed by another dumb question, specifically "Honey, what are you doing in the middle of the hot tub trying to completely submerge yourself?"

Okay, yes, I know that bats are interesting and cool and they eat mosquitoes and that's all great. But in the eyes of Ms. Knitingale, bats are cool primarily in theory, or on nature specials filmed on other continents where she is not. In person they are nothing more or less than winged mice which makes them no less creepy but significantly more mobile than their cheese-eating brethren. And really, the thought of mice flying blindly about the dark back yard (Mr. K blithely pointed out that they were squeaking because of the need to echolocate, since they can't see in the dark--proving that there are statements AND questions with bad outcomes) where I am unclothed and also unable to see is about as welcome to me as an invasion of moths just coming off a 7 day fast and in possession of a map of my yarn stash.

You can safely assume that the run from hot tub to bathrobe (which I had to feel for and which I put on reluctantly while imagining entirely too well what leathery wings against my back from a nestling bat would feel like) was both fast and panicked. And accompanied by the laughter of a husband who also wondered aloud if I was trying to find my "bat robe" and who should be sleeping with one eye open if he knows what's good for him.

Do I hear the bats, indeed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time to Play "Let's Try to Choke Blogger With Photos!"

Okay, not really, and you'd think I'd learn. It is a known fact that the universe only listens to these kinds of things when you don't want them to really happen. I could say "Let's give Ms. Knitingale $1,000,000" until I turn blue and not one penny would turn up, but I'll bet now that I titled the post the way I did, the computer will explode on the fourth picture or something.

First, some answers:

Why yes, Jo in Ireland--you can DEFINITELY come along. In fact, how cool would it be if we could all get together and just hang out somewhere for a weekend? Bet we'd terrify the muggles.

And yes, Jo in England--I'd LOVE a lesson in spindling for the terrified! I've now managed to forget my spindle on two occasions when very lovely and talented people could have taught me. Fear of failure? Me? Nah...

And to whoever said it, I have no idea why cats feel the need to barf on carpet, but there you have it. I can just see the little wheels turning in their fuzzy heads: "hmmm...I feel a bit queasy...must have been that lizard with a mouse chaser. I'd better find me some carpet--something really nice and expensive." Mind you, the whole cat handbook is much like that. For instance, I'm sure many of you are aware of the chapter regarding the inversely proportional relationship between the amount of money you spend on something and the amount of pleasure the cat is allowed to glean from it. Toss a paper bag on the floor and the cat is entertained for hours. Spend $30 plus shipping on a clever cat toy shaped like a fish with little dangly things on it and the cat will stare at it disdainfully before turning its back and bathing in a most snooty fashion. If you really spend on it, the cat will be afraid of it.

Such is the law of cats, and such is the reason I am the owner of a painfully costly fish toy with danglies and crinkles and all manner of kitty temptations that Grace is fairly certain is Satan in sparkles. On the other hand, her collection of little plastic strips torn from milk jug lids is rather staggering. And, of course, she ADORES them.

But, having exhausted the possibilities of feline digestive pyrotechnics, I offer you.....yarn porn:

The pictures don't really do this justice, but it's a stunningly lovely 100% wool in shades of blue that remind me of the sea on a cloudy day, and each skein is a whopping 337 yards. Plenty for a sweater....and just $20. Total. How, you may ask? Well, though it may seem as though I must have provided some sort of terribly inappropriate favors to a yarn store owner, the truth is that Monica took me to the wooly grail I was mentioning before: a yard sale of nothing but high end yarn. Dudes. I'm not sure I didn't drool on half of it.
It took us awhile to get there, being as how someone in the Portland city planning department thinks it's terribly clever to make at least 40% of the streets run in fits and starts and not go all the way through. No matter--more time for chatting and giggling like morons. But the sale....oh. I think I need this lady to move into Redmond where I live, because she was apparently selling the stuff from her stash that she no longer wants. This suggests that her actual stash, her SURVIVING stash if you will, is about the size of Switzerland. I could use a neighbor like that, particularly when good sense has gotten the better of me by pointing out that I already have enough yarn to make a life-sized felted submarine and nowhere near enough lifetime left to knit it all unless my life expectancy has suddenly morphed to 336 years. At those times, I could just cruise by this woman's house and know immediately that I have yards and yards to go before reaching complete yarn insanity, and I feel that this would comfort me.

We also went to a charming store called Knit/Purl, where still more yarn demanded to be taken home:

Colinette Jitterbug is on the right, Shi Bui on the left. The plan is to make socks with black heels and toes and ribbing so that the Colinette will go a bit further. Naturally, I need more sock yarn like I need a crazed badger in my underwear, but they have no sales tax in Oregon (compared to the nearly 9% we pay here in Washington...and the governer has yet to send an itemized statement of exactly what he's DOING with all my hard-earned yarn money) know. You've all been there--I know you know.

I'm quite astounded that that's all the yarn I bought, but I was helped by the fact that the store that was supposed to have acres of Blue Moon actually didn't have much at all, and the saleslady was kind of rude. Whoever you are rude saleslady, I salute you. And my bank account thanks you wholeheartedly.

On the homefront, I finally have some square pictures (as opposed to what? Rhomboids? No, pictures of squares--not square pictures...although they are...).

This startling display of industriousness (all 21 of them) was all from one person--none other than my own mother-in-law who absolutely went to town when she learned that she could crochet them (she likes crocheting much more than knitting...I don't hold that against her). Thank you so very much, Judy. I love you to pieces.

This box of squares--14 in all--came from a group of incredibly talented and generous knitters in Montana who call themselves the Yellowstone Unravellers. Their stated goal is to produce enough squares to make one whole blanket. Given that they're nearly halfway there, I don't doubt they'll make it. Ladies, let me know when you meet. I think I need to send you something yummy for one of your knitnights.

Ed likes them, too.

Paula in Iowa wowed me with these--doesn't the one in the middle of the bottom row just do things to your mind? I love it! Paula also has the distinction of making me laugh until I nearly hurt myself. There was a note in the box that said that she was sorry (no need), that she had tried to crochet the borders on them but she hates to crochet. No problem, Paula. They're already almost all done. Marti (who rocks like you wouldn't believe) helped me with a couple. Anyway, when I looked more deeply into the box, I was delighted to find a square with two sides bordered....still connected to the skein of black yarn, which was also in the box! I'm not sure why that tickles me so much, except I can't help but imagine poor Paula crocheting for as long as she could stand it and then saying "Well, screw this for a joke!" and tossing the whole shebang in the box! It was awesome, Paula, and I love you for it (among other things).

All right, I think I'm caught up. There are still more rose garden pictures but blogger hasn't begun to ooze black smoke yet, so I'll refrain from pushing my luck. Knit on, my dear friends. I so wish I could meet all of you.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Cat Puke Alarm Clock

Okay, no--this entire post isn't about cat vomit. In fact, it's not really at ALL about cat vomit, but the nasty stuff IS the reason that I'm up early enough to post something, Gussie being the lovely animal that she is and further being inclined to seek me out and howl as though having her spleen removed with a grapefruit spoon on the rare occasions when she does upchuck. Which are always around 4:00am. I think that just adds to the wonderfulness of it all.

BUT. We got back later than anticipated Sunday night (dorking around had much to do with this) and I have Knit for Life on Monday nights and there is the dreadful annoyance of having to WORK for a living in between (some poet once referred to work as "the great toad that squats upon my life" and, while I like my work quite a bit, it does sort of get in the way of the important stuff like blogging and knitting), so only now can I tell you that I was in....
Portland. By the airport, as it happens...the one called PDX. Does that tell you who I got to spend the day with?

Yep, it's MonicaPDX (which my husband once misread while I was typing and wondered aloud who this "Monica POX" was I was writing to...and why she was named for a disease) of Animorphia fame and she is every bit as delightful and funny as you would think. She is at least as smart and insightful as you would think, and we had a splendid time. Mr. K was at a knife show most of the day (he makes knives for a hobby) so Monica and I had nothing to do at all but yarn crawl and chat and giggle and have a wonderful, wonderful time. I know--sounds awful, huh? = )

Because I have been set on "spaz" for some time now (I'm starting to think that particular knob is broken because I've not managed to find the "my shit is together" setting for some time), I forgot my spindle, did not bring her the yarn I was planning to, and gifted her with nothing more than some truffle brownies and, eventually, the recipe. She, on the other hand, had all of her stuff together and brought me:

I wish I had photographed it more successfully--it's a stunning blue stone with traces of green and she made it into a necklace for me and I love it love it love it. If you look at the picture of the two of us, you can kinda see how perfectly it hangs. She also brought me:

Is this not yarn kryptonite (so pretty you get weak when you look at it)? I keep stroking it, which Mr. K thinks may be some sort of offence in some areas of the country. When the miners blankets are done, this is going straight on the needles and becoming sock kryptonite. And, of course, I completely heart the cow tape measure. You pull its TAIL to measure with it which, of course, tickles me to death. I'm a simple creature.

Thank you again, Monica. You rock beyond words. We went all over the place and did some stash enhancing (thank goodness, since neither of us had any yarn) that I'll show you tomorrow. We also went to the International Rose Test Gardens which really defy both description and photographing--it's impossible to describe the impact of all those acres of roses--but I pretended to know my ass from a hole in the ground about photography and did get these to show you:

The color is true here--it really is orange and yellow splattered and looks like it was painted. Then this:

which just took my breath away in person. Kind of like Monica herself.

I have some blanket square photos, too, but I think blogger may just climb out of the computer and smack me a good one if I try to upload any more photos today. It was threatening a bit with these last two. I'll try to get those in tomorrow, too.

Now, I have to pry Gussie from my lap where she is happily purring (perhaps she is a blog fan and that's why she woke me up so early...and now she's happy because it worked and she has a new post to read? You can bet I'll be checking the screen for nose prints later) and exercise before going to work. But, in Gussie's honor, have you ever noticed that there are certain questions to which there are going to be no good answers? For instance, "What did I just step in?" is never followed by anything like "Mmm...warm massage lotion". I think there may be an entire post in the future on this very subject.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Road Work

I've said before that if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then I have personally created a multi-lane superhighway with an express lane, a high-occupancy vehicle lane, several overpasses, some roadside attractions, and enough leftover paving to have a sideroad to Peoria. And back. (I'm not at all sure why the road to Peoria would be paved with good intentions....perhaps the good people of Peoria are have a hot, swinging time I know nothing about. But anyway.)

In the last day or so, I've added a couple more exits to that superhighway, as well as a 30 mile, waist-high retaining wall. To wit:

Intention 1: I was going to post yesterday. It was going to be really funny--I had it all figured out. (Yeah, I know--it's easy to be funny when the proof isn't actually posted.) And I even recognized that I might get home late, so I planned to sneak over to the library at lunchtime and post from there--so good were my intentions (BIG truck load of concrete there). BUT, apparently people who come to a doctor's office seem to think that the things that brought them there--like life-threatening allergies and not being able to breathe from asthma--are more important than a knitting blog (I know, right?) and so I ended up working through exactly enough of my lunch hour to make it impossible to get to the library via any method but teleportation. It is so wrong that I don't have a teleporter.

Intention 2: I was then going to post last night after I got back from seeing the Yarn Harlot at Third Place Books. But the bookstore people, apparently also thinking that there are things more important than my blog (which is weird, because wouldn't you think a bookstore would ENCOURAGE reading?) decided that the way to handle the signing was to allow all the people who attended their knitting/book group (which I'd join in a heartbeat if the bookstore weren't 50 minutes away from my house) could get in the signing line first. Then, the people who bought Stephanie's latest book there could get in line second. Well, and third, fourth, and so on through about 8 million. Not that I would ever exaggerate. Not in a million, trillion years. Anway, since I am not in the knit group and since I was not getting my own copy of the book signed (it was a complex yarn and book deal in which I traded yarn to Marti to get my book signed when she went to sock camp and then Marianne mailed me her book to get signed at this event and I have no idea who's book Marianne will end up getting signed but I think this thing could take on a life of its own), this meant waiting in line knitting for a good while.

I have to say "a good while" because it was all knitters and so it was good. Really good, and I met some awesome people. But I got home late and since I had to get up early this morning (5:00 a.m. early--somewhere around "man, it's still freaking DARK outside on a Saturday!" early), ended up going straight to bed.

A little side ramp on that highway--I intended to get some good sleep, too. But there is much excitement in my life at present (I'll get to that) and sleep was somewhere out partying, possibly at the places my muse was frequenting there for a bit.

Intention 3: I was going to post pictures today that were taken last night amongst the throng of knitters and, of course, of the good lady herself. You will notice here a stunning absence of such photos. This is because I remembered a change of clothes (had to go straight from work and, while I imagine that no one would care if I turned up in scrubs, it does feel a tad self-conscious to walk around in big jammies with my name pinned to my left breast), remembered an extra bottle of water, remembered my knitting bag, remembered Marianne's book, remembered a little baggie of granola to nibble on, and even remembered the truffle brownies I made for the Harlot. Did I remember the camera? I did not. This was a shameful moment.

Intention 4: I intended to put up photos this morning of the many squares I've received since I wrote you last--my own dear mother-in-law (who really doesn't need the whole "in-law" thing on there--she's my other mom and I love her to pieces) sent me a box of 21 squares which, with her last package of about 10, means that she has singlehandedly made her own miners blanket (well, okay, she probably used both hands...but still) and Paula in Iowa sent me a box of six squares and the Yellowstone Unravellers sent me a box of 14 squares with a promise of more to come--and I even have taken pictures of all these wonders. Apparently I can perform a bit better when the items to be photographed and the item with which to photograph them are already in the same building. But it is, as mentioned, o'crap o'clock in the morning, Mr. K is still sleeping, and he was the one who used the camera last and I don't know exactly--or even inexactly--where he put it. (I suspect he was using it to take pictures of the knife he's been making which even I find absolutely beautiful--which is saying something coming from someone who usually prefers sharp things when they have loops of yarn on them.)

Still, at least those pictures do exist and you'll get them when I come back tomorrow. I figure sometime between here and there--especially since we'll have six hours in the car together--I should be able to pry the information about the camera's whereabouts out of him. I have brownes left...I may bribe him.

Intention 5: I intended to post the wonderfully funny stuff I thought of yesterday, this morning. But seeing as how I've now written a novella or so about the things I was GOING to do...well, let's just say it's not every writer who can fill an entry about nothing but what she didn't do. This is probably a good thing. Possibly a great thing. As it happens, though, I can remember what I was going to write, so you'll get that when I get back tomorrow, too.

You may be wondering where I'm going (assuming you don't know me personally and haven't already driven you nuts with my happy bouncing) but alas, you will have to wait for that, too. It's a surprise. But I swear I'll take pictures and tell you all about it. Some clues:

I'm going with Mr. K to an event of his that happens to be in the same city as someone I've been wanting to meet.

You know her, at least in the same way that I do.

It is not Marianne, whom I've met once and who, sadly, cannot fly across the country to join us. But the person is someone she'd enjoy meeting, too.

We'll be yarn crawling (yeah, like THAT narrows it down).

I'm not flying or taking a train anywhere--so it's somewhere I can get to by car and be back tomorrow. I do have to leave the state, though.

If I bring my drop spindle, she swears she'll teach me to spin. I pity her for the torment this will likely visit upon her...but not so much that I won't take her up on it.

I'm off to exercise at this ungodly hour, and then hit the road. It's well worth it--WELL worth it. Just wait till you see--I know you'll agree. And don't worry. I'll bribe the camera out of him in plenty of time to take pictures of.....?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wanted: Search Party Volunteers

The ideal candidate will be patient, intelligent, creative, and more than a little fiber-inclined. The quarry? Ms. Knitingale's writing muse who, as has been previously noted, is more than a little bit of a bitch. She is, as my mother would have said, a brass-plated four-door bitch (I'm not sure what that is, but it rolls off the tongue) unless she has inspired me to write something really funny or touching or profound, in which case she is a glorious being and should have chocolate and wool laid at her feet (not together).

At the moment, she is the first one. The brass plated one. She is demonstrating that by remaining stubbornly hidden, in spite of all the tortured staring I have done at the computer (which is not nearly as helpful or productive as it ought to be). I have also tried tortured pacing, tortured gazing out the window, and tortured sleeplessness. She is apparently nowhere near Torture, USA. Go figure.

Even worse, she has taken with her my sense of humor (I'm suddenly not the least bit funny) and even my sense of the absurd. Well, okay, maybe not that. I live in America, after all, with a man as president who bears a striking resemblance to a monkey but is less capable of independent thought. I'd have to be dead not to have a sense of the absurd.

So I'm looking for some help locating the wily bitch and then sending her unceremoniously home. The sense of humor will, I think, find her way back on her own. I suspect she's just fallen in with bad company. And Missy Muse is definitely bad company...even when she's feeling generous she has a fondness for offering up that generousity at 3:00 am and then yanking it away if I dare to suggest a later hour: "Okay, if you don't want it....."

Obviously, I have no starting point for you--if I knew where she was, I'd have found her. But I can tell you where she isn't:
  • She is not at the bottom of the bag of gummi bears I found stashed in the cupboard (I know--I looked really hard)
  • She is not at any of the local yarn stores (I looked at some of them twice, just to be sure)
  • She is not at the Bath And Bodyworks store, checking out the current sale
  • I tried unravelling some thrift store sweaters...she wasn't in any of them, either. I checked several.
  • She is not in the hot tub, and hasn't been any night this week (I'll keep looking, of course--I'm no quitter)
  • She is not on the Knitpicks website, or the WEBS website, or the Little Knits website, or even Etsy or Woolgirl.
  • She could well be in the middle of my ironing pile--so could Jimmy Hoffa, the lost Dutchman, and Amelia Earhart. I recommend a guide and some sort of signalling device to anyone wishing to look there.
  • She could not be found anywhere on Ed's furry little bod, although I did nuzzle his wonderfully spotted tummy quite carefully so as not to miss her.
  • She is not at Starbucks--either in the espresso machine or the blender they use for Frappacinos.
  • She is not in any of the brightly colored catalogues sent to me by vicious uniform houses who should KNOW that I am a weak willed scrub whore and yet still insist on telling me what I can buy for the low, low price of just $12.99 plus shipping.
  • She could be in the back of my closet, under the couch, or in the kitchen junk drawer. Sad, if true, because I will likely be 107 before I locate her. My only consolation is that she'll be just as old as I am...and still a bitch.

If you see her, drop me a line. I'll come get her once I start missing her enough to forget what a miserable cow she really is. A favorite poet of mine once described her muse as being the one good eye she had to see things with. Fair enough. If you see my good eye, smack her one for me. Then keep her safe until I can get there. It should take me about 60 seconds. I hate her like you wouldn't believe...but I sure do love her.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

As Promised.....

Lynn's fabulous L-O-V-E square, now correctly oriented (not that I would ever judge the orientation of another.....)

and six lovely squares from Renny in Virginia where I believe they must make the women extra special, seeing as how Dianne hails from those parts as well.

I have been edging squares, naturally (although I'm not sure how I'd edge them unnaturally....unless I was standing on my head in a rocking chair using a wire whisk instead of a crochet hook...that'd be pretty unnatural), but also preparing for the Harlot's visit to Seattle this Friday at 6:30. This involves the following:

1. Decide what kind of brownies to make--I brought her brownies last time, and she autographed her most recent book to me as "the brownie queen" I really have to live up to that title.
2. Consider and reject several possibilities before settling on the truffle brownies I invented a few years ago.
3. Wonder briefly if Steph could get approval from a cardiologist to eat them, seeing as how just looking at them is enough to slam shut the arteries of some. Remember that she's a vegetarian, and figure she's probably earned some extra chocolate points in amongst all those veggies.
4. Mix up brownie batter.
5. Spill little driblets of the stuff on every possible surface.
6. Forget that dishwasher is running until suddenly realize that have steamed up entire abdomen by leaning over the dishwasher to stir.
7. Wonder briefly if it would work to steam the wrinkles I'm getting by my eyes; decide that even spectacular results aren't worth sticking face in dishwasher. Probably.
8. Spread batter in pan; obsess briefly about getting it perfectly even before remembering that she won't see the whole batch--and if she did, she probably wouldn't throw things at me if they weren't perfectly even, anyway. Smooth them out one more time.
9. Toss brownies in oven, sit down to edge squares and watch football.
10. Watch Seahawks play....well, BADLY. Whimper.
11. Become mesmerized by lousy playing until suddenly remember brownies.
12. Leap from couch in a maniacal fashion, causing husband, cat, and knitting acoutrements to scatter like stoned partygoers when the cops show up.
13. Run to kitchen and yank brownies from the oven (WITH oven mitt--I'm crazed, but I ain't that crazed) while murmering little brownie charms so as to stave off the burn fairy.
14. Decide that they're all right; return to living room.
15. Pick up knitting, dodge angry cat, smile happily at perplexed husband who, by now, should be fully aware that I frequently act as if I am one step away from a room with soft walls and no longer look surprised about it. That would be the gentlemanly thing to do, anyway.
16. Realize that distress over team has caused me to edge an entire square with the thing face down.
17. Swear
18. De-edge square, while considering that people have been sued for far less. "But, your honor--if they'd played like they had the faintest inkling what a football is or what they're supposed to do with it, my priceless blanket wouldn't have gotten screwed up!" Only in America.
19. Watch team inexplicably, and against all odds, pull ahead.
20. Set knitting aside again, go into kitchen and heat butter and cream for truffle layer of brownies. Think about including the name and number of a good cardiologist with these, just in case.
21. Spread truffle on brownies, lick spoon.
22. Lick pan
23. Lick spoon some more.
24. Notice chocolate hardening in hair.
25. Swear again.
26. Pick little chocolate flecks out of hair.
27. Move knitting out to husbands shop at his request so that we can watch the game together.
28. Cheer on beleaguered team, who are back in my good graces in spite of the fact that they look as bewildered to be winning as I am to have them winning.
29. Go back inside, melt down white chocolate to spread over truffle layer.
30. Spread chocolate, remember what happened with the truffle layer, and carefully tuck hair behind ears.
31. Lick spoon.
32. Notice drizzle of white chocolate down front of favorite coral lace-up tee shirt.
33. Give up on swearing--it only seems to be egging the fates on.
34. Cut brownes into squares. Without incident.
35. Worry--what could the brownie gods be waiting to spring on me?
36. Run to make sure that the sugar wasn't really salt.
37. Run to make sure flour wasn't really cornstarch or gravy mix or some other nasty thing.
38. Run to make sure white chocolate wasn't really Ivory soap.
39. Decide that all is well...and wonder when I'm going to realize that I've somehow a)crocheted all the edges backwards, b)crocheted two squares together with one upside down, and/or c)failed to notice the large family of moths building a village in the midst of all the wooly wonderfulness. (No, they didn't...but I figured SOMETHING must have gone wrong.)
40. Put brownies in freezer. Next step: figure out how to talk to Stephanie without foot in mouth....or, more accurately, WITH foot in mouth since that is surely where it will be if last time is any indication.

At least I'm prepared to leave her with the memory of chocolate. Maybe that will help override the dorkiness?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Nipfaced, and the Search for the Wooly Grail

This is my cat:
This is my cat on drugs:

Here are some of the interim steps:

I know, it's a bad catmommy that will get her cat nipfaced and then take photos of her to post on the internet. I'm sure KPC (Kitty Protective Services) will be knocking on my door sometime very soon with a stern warning. I'll tell you one thing, though--this cat's a cheap date. I sprinkled some catnip on this giant pet pillow in the hopes of encouraging Ed to sleep on it instead of attacking and attempting to strangle every area rug in the house in the process of making "a comfy spot" and he sort of sniffed it, sniffed it some more, walked away. Miss Thing, though? Drunk off her ass in about half a minute, and she stayed that way all afternoon.

Since we're the sort of trailer trash who actually would corrupt an innocent animal for a Kodak moment (okay, no trailer anymore...but someone commenting here pointed out that you really can't take the trailer out of the girl, and I think this an excellent point...definitely worth stitching on a $4.99 pillow from Walmart in bright orange acrylic yarn), we spent the morning prior to compromising our cat's dignity by driving around and looking for garage sales.

You folks in other parts of the world will have to clue me in as whether this is a peculiarly American phenomenon, or if it makes perfect sense to you to drive around looking for people to give money to so that they'll give you their junk that they don't want anymore--because they were just waiting for some dumbass to pay to take it away so they don't have to haul it to the dump. I can't explain the fascination with them, except that in the back of my tiny mind, there amongst the dust bunnies and the cobwebs, lingers the fantasy that I will walk into someone's garage and find a mammoth box of wool and cashmere and alpaca and llama--and the person manning the sale will just want to get rid of it and say cheerily "oh, I reckon you could have the whole box for $10". I realize this is about as likely as me driving by a yarn store without stopping, but a girl has to have dreams.

That said, I mentioned this fantasy to Mr. K (I read somewhere that men like it when you tell them your didn't seem to do much for him, though) and even as I spoke, I realized the fatal flaw in the plan. Specifically, anyone fiber-obsessed enough to acquire a stash of that size and quality isn't likely to sell it off in a garage sale. I've only ever really found any nice yarn at an estate sale, and it wasn't a mammoth box of cashmere so much as a few balls of reasonably nice wool attached to a started sweater the size of a wooly hula hoop.

Turns out that not everyone has the ability to just "eyeball" the number of stitches to cast on for a sweater. (Either that or the lady was actually knitting covers for tanker trucks--I swear, I held that started sweater and spread my hands to their fullest extension and still couldn't quite get it to full size. I'm 5'8 inches tall and your arm span is supposed to be the same as your by my reckoning this sweater was shaping up to be about 70 inches in diameter.)

Still, I wander through stacks of warped tupperware and grimy stuffed animals and hairy Christmas ornaments (they say only cockroaches will survive at the end of the world--I disagree. That angel hair stuff will be here looooong after the cockroaches) and mismatched shoes and trashy romance novels and fake flowers and doilies (I'm not sure why every garage sale has doilies--I never see anyone buy or make them, but they appear in garage sales as if by magic...maybe they come with the permit?) and puzzles missing 3 pieces and clothes so far out of date that they're a year or two away from coming back into style and I keep thinking this will be the day the treasure will appear. This stupid, happy-go-lucky certainty that the barn stuffed with manure must contain a pony is, by the way, the reason I do not gamble.

All of which leads me to this snippet of overheard conversation at a sale in Issaquah, where a youngish man was digging through boxes of stuff in search of his own version of the wooly grail, and he suddenly called out to his son: "Hey, Sam. Come over here--remember the other day when I was telling you about records? This is what they look like!"

Yeah, Sam--that was back when no one owned a computer because it filled a large room and you actually had to wait an hour for a baked potato and dinosaurs roamed the earth. Could I feel any older?

Tomorrow I promise some more photos of squares, including another one of Lynn's megasquare which, as it turns out, spells L-O-V-E if you're not a dork and actually turn it around the right way. Sorry about that, Lynn. I must have had an extra helping of stupid with my cereal. It's beautiful, and I love you for it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I Wanted to be Funny

I have been trying now for about 25 minutes to write something funny or witty or clever or even profound. Truth is, though, you all continue to leave me speechless. I am struck dumb by your continued generousity and kindness. You don't know the miners, you've never met me--but you keep knitting and and mailing and offering kind words and I love you all so much I can't stand it. I'm humbled by all of you, seriously. Today's mail brought these from Dianne inVirginia:

Dianne, I love that stipey thing you've got going with the purple and black. The sharp-eyed among you have already spotted the Koigu sitting there above the squares. Dianne kindly donated it as a prize for someone when I start drawing names (likely this weekend). And she sent me some black yarn for edging and some lovely gifts and I am so very pleased and grateful that you thought of me. I keep wanting to see Virginia--if I get there, I will call upon you and give you the hug you have coming in person.

Yesterday's mail brought all of these:

and this from Lynn in Texas:

I'm loving the megasquare like you can't believe. I don't know quite you you did it, but I love it. I'll be doing a lot of edging and sewing this weekend, so I should have some photos of real progress by Sunday. My newest idea is to have the blankets ready for Christmas gifts. It seems to me that the first holiday without your loved one must be painful in a way I can't imagine. And I know that the story is already gone from the news the way these things do, and I would think that would mean a great deal of aloneness at such a family-oriented time. That also gives us all time to knit and me time to edge and join all six blankies. Eight if I get enough squares (so as to include the families of the rescuers).

When I was a little girl, I used to sometimes go with my mom to visit my dad while he worked out of town. He puts up steel buildings for a living, and he does so all over the place so I stayed in a lot of wonderful little towns. One was Kellogg, Idaho which was the home of a huge mining disaster many years ago in the Sunshine Silver Mine. I remember standing there looking at the memorial and asking my parents over and over again if it was really true, if all those men really died and how it could possibly be fair. It wasn't, of course, and it isn't.

Every night now when Mr. K comes home I hold him extra close because I realize more than ever how lucky I am that he CAN come home. I never say good-bye to him in the morning without reminding him to come home safely to me and I always leave with a pang. I can't begin to imagine the pain of losing a beloved someone in that way, and it is this thought that keeps me knitting. And edging. And stitching. And then you guys send me more stuff and I think that there are no better people in the world than you, and I knit and edge and stitch together even harder and faster--so I can be worthy of all the good people working with me and through me.

I wanted to be funny today. Instead, I'm just grateful. Gifted by the friendship of all of you, privileged to be able to call you friends even though we've never officially met. Touched by the extraordinary love you all keep sending along. It's a bottomless well, I think. I'm in awe.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You'll get tired of hearing that before this is all over...but I'll never get tired of saying it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Full Circle

It is my way to run around frantically in the morning before leaving for work, after announcing to anyone who will listen that there is no WAY I will possibly make it to work on time and I'm going to be terribly late and get fired and go home in disgrace and I'll have to sit in the yard and eat worms. Okay, so no one will ever want to purchase a book entitled "The Way of Knitingale", but you stick with what works. In any case, I was starting my day today in much that manner when some interesting truths came to me. It went like this.

One of the many little tasks with which I fill up my mornings is the brewing of a large cup of tea. I always believe I will have time to drink this in a civilized fashion, perhaps while reading the paper and glancing fondly over at my beloved Mr. K. Then I have a good laugh and go dump the water out of the travel mug that's been soaking overnight in the sink because I didn't get to the civilized and fond glances thing yesterday, either (in my defense, neither did Mr. K, so I would have had to glance fondly at the cat who tends to think I'm weird when I do that). I had arranged my stuff for work neatly on the counter to take with me (read: I had tossed my knitting bag on the counter in such a way that the yarn slopped out of it and got covered in bread crumbs from Mr. K's sandwich, forgot my cell phone and had to make two trips upstairs--one to forget what I wanted, and one to get the cell phone--lovingly set the new red purse on the chair where nothing bad could happen to it, and tipped my water bottle onto the hardwood while swearing like a trucker and trying to mop it up by sliding a dishtowel around with my foot. In other words, and average morning.) and I was about to pour the tea into the mug. Which was when I had my first moment of realization:

I was wearing brand new, white, brushed cotton scrub pants. Brand new. Soft and comfy, with a drawstring waist. Carefully matched with a white long-sleeved tee, and a scrub top in blues and greens and white. Lots and lots of white.

And a big travel mug of tea. Which has a lid with a lip on it to help prevent spillage and all...but c'mon. Is there a more tempting invitation to the universe than new white scrub pants and a big mug of tea in the car on the way to work with no time to go home and change? I think not. Which is when I had my second moment of realization: I could change the outcome of this.

I put my stuff neatly in the car (read: tossed it in randomly and was somehow surprised later to find grapes from my lunchbag under the seat planning a future in the raisin business), went back, and dug a dishtowel out of the drawer. I then got in the car, laid the dishtowel across my lap, and drove to work and drank my tea, thus guaranteeing that nothing would spill. I could have shaken it like a tamborine and nothing would have spilled, because the universe doesn't find it amusing in the least to mess with the prepared. It ruins everything. Now, if I'd not brought the towel, I'd have dropped the entire cup in my lap, the lid would have popped off, and I would have spent the whole day working with a light tan crotch and lap. Such are the vagaries of fate. When I got to work, that was when I had the third and last moment of realization:

I was sitting in my car, wearing what might as well be jammies and a bib, drinking from a tippy cup. I had come full circle.

When I looked around, I merely confirmed my suspicions--behind the seat was a bag of hard candy, to keep me from becoming cranky and whiny on long car trips. I had a shiny red purse, one shoe was untied, my hair needed to be brushed, and the cd I was listening to was one I've listened to so often that it's a good thing I don't carpool with anyone because they'd kill me. The evidence is clear. I've become 2 years old again. Only now I can drive and not nearly as many people can tell me no.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Guess Who Won?

I had some time to kill before Knit for Life last night, so I decided to do a little window shopping. And, as everyone with a child--either inner or outer--knows, "window shopping" refers to the art of wandering around a store pretending that you aren't going to buy anything, and then your child harasses you until you do and you pretend it was a well-thought out decision. That's what it means in my world, in any case. (It may be for the best that I don't have any flesh and blood children.)

While I was window shopping, I just happened to end up in the handbag section, where there just happened to be a sale on (this time it was JC Penney--I think the stores are conspiring against me...I'm sure the fact that it was Labor Day and every store in the country was having a sale was mere coincidence). The conversation went sort of like this:

Mature, outer adult me: "Aren't they lovely? Now, we're just looking. We really don't need a bag right now."

Spoiled brat inner child: "Yes, I do. I NEED a bag. I REALLY REALLY need one! One of these!!"

Me: "Oh, dear. Not that one. That's much too loud and garish. Besides, you have a perfectly good bag."

Inner brat: "I don't LIKE my bag. It's icky. I want this pretty one."

Me: "It most certainly is not icky, and you liked it just fine before. But okay. We can consider a new purse. But let's start with these lovely, classic bags over here."

Inner brat: "Don't WANT a classic bag. I want THIS ONE!!"

Me: "Shhhh! Stop wailing like that! That's no way to get what you want! And I'm sorry, but young ladies do not carry handbags made of red, faux crocodile. It's cheap and tacky. Here, try this lovely chocolate leather bag. It has lots of pockets and a sensible shoulder strap."

Inner brat: "I HATE that leather purse! And it's not chocolate--chocolate is good. I want this one. Don't care what young ladies do. I want it!"

Me: (somewhat desperately) "Look, it's not at all what a mature woman would carry! It''s...RED, for heaven's sake! Okay, I'll tell you what. If you really must have red, how about this lovely leather satchel in a sort of burgandy. It's kind of red."

Inner brat: "IT IS NOT!!!! It's NOT red and I don't like it and you're icky and I hate you!! I want the red purse!"

Me: "But a red purse won't go with anything! And it's not even very big. Where will you put everything? For pete's sake--put it down!"

Inner Brat: "I WON'T put it down. IWON'TIWON'TIWON'T!!! And you can't make me!!"

Me: (now attempting to wrestle the purse from her grasping little hands) "But look--it's not even real anything. Feel how nice and soft the real leather purses are."

Inner Brat: "Don't care. Don't want the icky old leather."

Me: "Well...but I'll bet it's ridiculously expensive, and I won't pay that kind of money for dead urethane hide, do you hear me?"

Inner Brat: "It's on sale. It's 50% off. Look how smooth and shiny it is. Here, just kind of pet it."

Me: ".......oh, man. I hate you. I really hate you."

Inner Brat: "I get the purse, though--right?"

Which is how I came to be the owner of this completely fabulous and probably horrid red faux croc handbag, which I love even as I hate myself for loving it. For the record, I'm not at all sure whether I wanted a red, faux croc handbag, or just wanted to be the sort of woman who would carry a red, faux croc handbag and get away with it. Luckily, I'm now equipped to experiment and find out. (the photo makes it look kind of's not. It's really very red.)

By the way, anyone willing to let my inner child vacation at their house? Just for a couple of weeks? I fear it's the only way I'll get to purchase anything that wouldn't attract a magpie from 16 miles away in a heavy storm. All I can say is, thank all that's wool that the little snot hasn't discovered shoes.

In happier news, look what the mail brought me from Peggy in Georgia, Karen in Utah, and someone else in Utah who didn't give her name (but who has my eternal thanks just the same):

I'm so delighted with all of them. And look what else came, this from Jean in Cornwall:

It says "knit on with compassion and hope, through all chaos", and she sent it because she thought it summed us all up nicely. Well said, Jean. You are absolutely right. I'm off to knit on. And feel the love and compassion and hope of all of you as I do.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Irony: Not Just for Unwrinkling Clothes-ies

It is unlikely that I am truly my mother's daughter--rather, I am almost certainly a changeling, swapped out in the nursery when my mother wasn't looking. Her real child is probably enjoying a life with Imelda Marcos. I say this because of the horror that crossed my mother's face when she realized I did not share her love of accessories. Indeed, I'd rather wax the driveway with my tongue than go shoe-shopping, a truth that may well have cost my mother a portion of her sanity.

My mother, you see, collects purses and shoes and jewelry and sweaters and scarves and quite possibly a number of other things I've never heard of in a way that puts even my yarn collecting to shame (which is saying something). I, on the other hand, will wear a pair of shoes until I can feel the date on a penny while standing on it with the shoes on, or until they explode off of my feet in protest. Whichever comes first. I once carried a pair of beloved but absolutely beat-to-crap shoes into a shoe store and announced that I wanted to purchase another pair of precisely these shoes. The salesman looked as if he rather wished he had a nuclear waste suit handy, and he did not touch the shoes as he explained--in the same tones one uses to explain why a 3-year-old child's goldfish had to take a toilet ride--that they did not make this sort of shoe anymore. Indeed, he did not EVER remember seeing a shoe like this, and perhaps I should consider something more....current. I didn't tell my mother about this. I feared she might faint dead away, strike her head on her giant jewelry chest, which would then tip over into the dresser, whereupon 230 sweaters would fall down on her and smother her. You think I'm kidding, but she counted once--and she really did have 230 sweaters at that point.

My handbag issue is just as severe. Unlike my mother who used to change out handbags according to her shoes, her coats, the seasons, her mood, and quite possibly the price of hot sauce down at the Walmart (they say "the Walmart" where she lives--see my earlier post on trailer trash), I have carried the same sensible brown purse for about 3 years--which is when I purchased it at Value Village for about $6.99 + tax. I have not changed it to match my shoes--I figure they can get along or not but it's none of my concern. I have not worried about whether it "worked" with the current fashion season (it's a purse, for the love of wool--it can't POSSIBLY have feelings of not belonging) and my mood, where handbags are concerned, really only ranges from "Crap, I forgot my purse" to "Crap, I slammed my purse handle in the car door" to "I know my keys are SOMEWHERE in here beneath all this crap."

Having said all that, I am occasionally struck by a stray something or other--a momen of odd girliness that causes me to do things like purchase lip gloss, put product in my hair and, sometimes, actually be enchanted by handbags. I don't know if it's a full moon thing, or what--but I will go from "yeah, all my stuff fits in it and whose going to notice if the handle is held on with a safety pin?" to "oh, look at the little pockets! And the zippers! And all this other stuff that I'll never use but looks really cool!" I'll even take the damned things off the shelf and sort of pose with them--hold them casually against my body while I glance down to see if I look anywhere in the neighborhood of chic (actually, the freeway of my life doesn't exit in that particular neighborhood, but hope springs eternal). All of which is to say that:

Last night Mr. K and I stopped at Fred Meyer and all their purses were 40 - 60% off and something goofy and pink and frilly inside of me squealed with delight and the next thing I knew I was pressing my face against smooth leather and holding purses against me like a moron. What can you do?

A quick note here: you probably picked up on the Fred Meyer thing. I may have a goofy squealy girl in me, giddly burying herself in trendy handbags, but even she isn't dumb enough to pay hundreds of dollars for them. In fact, a price tag over about $20 is all it really takes to send her packing. She's hopeful, but she's really not all that persistent.

And it was like this that Mr. K found me some moments later. I was feverishly comparing the merits of a round sort of bag that would match nothing I owned and hold about 1/4 of my stuff, and a giant shiny studded thing that would really require a much larger knowledge of dominatrix sorts of things than I have in order to successfully pull it off. My eyes were bright and shiny, I'm sure. When he came up to me, I started holding up bags and pointing out the wonderfulness of this vs the chicness of that (proof that my brain was addled by polyurethane fumes--that I thought for a moment to share this wealth of information with my beloved husband who once used a plastic bag from Victoria's Secret as a lunch bag because it was the first one he grabbed) and I even went so far as to ask him what he thought of this one or that one (fumes again) and that's when he said it--the phrase that actually makes me start to believe that men may in fact be alien. He creased his brow a little as he said it, too--"But, you have a purse. What's wrong with the one you have?"

And of course, when I'm not breathing in dead urethanes, I probably have the same sort of thought on the subject. But at that moment, I thought it the most ludicrous statement in the world--quite possibly heretical. And ironic, too (you were wondering where the irony came in, weren't you?). Ironic because of this photo:

See those 9 pairs of shoes by our front door? The 9 pairs of shoes that are almost all variations of running shoes? The 9 pairs of shoes that mostly all look brand new and barely worn? Yeah, 7 of them belong to Mr. K. And that's not half of his shoe collection.

Oh, the irony.

I did not, after all, purchase a purse (if only because I really couldn't come up with an answer to the "what's wrong with the one you have?" question). Neither did I purchase a three-pack of panties (a weakness of mine....I've heard of people who do the laundry when they run out of clean panties, but I can't wait that long because if I do, the clothes I put in the hamper will all be out of style by the time they come out of the dryer--I have a LOT of panties), a new bra, or a hair care product that is little more than a promise in a bottle for the frizzy among us who, nevertheless, dare to dream. But I'm remembering this the next time he wants to go shoe shopping.

Today's miner blanket update--I've started edging squares that need it, and have actually sewn some together. See what you think:

I'm still knitting them, too, but really wanted to start putting some together. Aren't they pretty? Aren't you guys wonderful?