Monday, November 29, 2004

Back Home Again

Today tastes like flat peppermint, oily and cold.

Listening to George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, the first book in his Song of Fire and Ice series. I don't know if I like the narrator's voice much in this--at times, he's so perfectly what I heard in my head it's spooky; and at others, well, my disbelief has left noticeable dents in the ground from where it fell.

I know several people who don't like the world Martin set up--it's feudal. Women have no power save what they can grasp and wield in the shadows through thier influence on the men in their lives. The arguement I've heard is that if you're going to create a world of fantasy, why not fantasize that true equality between the sexes has been achieved? Why place such a premium on inherited power, and male succession, rather than on the capabilities of the individual?

Because the interesting characters are the girls/women. They can't hack and slash their way to victory--but they can work behind the scenes to mold their world. They can choose to be the dutiful daughter, marrying a stranger for the political alliance the match brings, bearing trueborn children to inherit their father's lands and manage that particular chunk of the country--or they can choose to cuckold their husband for ego's sake. One of the girls becomes a tomboyish hero within the limits imposed by her youth and strength, another is a pawn of the court still peering through scaled eyes and believing in romance and fairy tales. I'm looking forward to what happens when the latter gets her act together and figures out that she's NOT actually a little frail paper boat; that she has a rudder and oars and can steer herself. She can't completely ignore the wind and waves of the world she's in--but she could very much learn to tack into the breeze and ride the swells.

If the world were fair, I'd have three-four pairs of socks and photos of both the Queen Anne's Lace Cardi and its companion shell to show off. Unfortunately, the Shell Shell (Shell Squared?) turned into a Penelope project--I worked on it all day some days, then ripped it all back at night. Two rows forward were countered by three rows back.

Most of the front is done now--but it's at a really awkward point. I don't have enough yarn to finish the front completely, and will not have more till Wednesday evening. Sigh. So I'm going to punish it by not taking photos till the front is complete.

Of course, having met with my muse the week before I left, I have all kinds of ideas to follow up on, and I'm feeling stymied because I don't want to get started on more more more.

I have an idea for a lace moebius scarf that's started in the center with faggoting and then knit to the edges in long long rows. Terpsichore showed me a crocheted scarf that another designer made--but that designer had to go take care of two seriously ill family members before she could write up the pattern. I think I've got a handle on how it works, and Terpsichore is dying to be able to offer it--but it too has to wait till Wednesday.

I'm dying to realize the Arizona shawl that's been kicking around in my head since I first laid eyes on Schroder's Oregon shawl. I have the materials, I have the charts, but I have to clear my magnet board first. Grrrrr.

And did I mention that I'm running out of handknit socks? Slowly, slowly, holes are being worn in them, and frankly, I have zero interest in learning how to darn them. Love to knit them, hate to mend them, so they never have little thin worn spots. No, they have great gaping voids which would require real mending skills, not just grafting, but nalbinding.

Wolf, cabbage, goat--banana, cat, mouse, pipe organ. I need a bigger boat, dammit. Or more hours in the day.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Today tastes like . . . pineapples, limes, and unripe bananas, with a touch of cream and the texture of meringue.

It’s Friiiiiiiday, gracias a Dios, and in a very little while I will be out of
this office (spelled H-E-L-L) and off to be shamelessly pampered at the salon, meet with my knitting muse/head pusher Terpsichore, and pack for a trip to Mexico. Hence, this very very long post will have to keep you happy for a week. Decide now if you want to gobble it all down RIGHT NOW, and emerge with words smeared on your chin and behind your ears; or if you'll savor it a few paragraphs at a time.

But I don't want to hear it if you give yourself indigestion. You have been warned.

The Dowager Empress Odie-Bird shared a prose poem earlier this week, in which the narrator talks about rituals and holidays, and trying new things especially for holidays. Of playing with the traditional Thanksgiving recipies to make something uniquely your own, perfect and special.

And then ends the poem by suggesting making reservations.

So that’s First Consort Gareth and my Thanksgiving this year. We’ll be in Cabo San Lucas, eating the traditional Thanksgiving seafood enchiladas. I remember a Thanksgiving where I was in my early twenties and Brother Splunge was a teen, and the Dowager Empress and Papara decided that we were going to the horse races in Ruidoso for Thanksgiving. No turkey. No trimmings. No family save the absolute nuclear one.

Speaking of nuclear, Brother Splunge and I almost melted down. You would have thought that the winter holidays were celebrated in Rockwellian fashion, with Grampa tucking napkin after napkin into his shirt, Gramma putting the last touches on the homemade mince pie (no shortcuts from a jar for her, nosireebob), and row upon row of kids with fresh-scrubbed faces all waiting for their chance at the turkey.

But, well, none of us care much for turkey. It’s fine for a meal-- maybe two, if you count the heart attack on a plate that is tetrazinni. (How can something that is mostly a cheese and cream conveyance device NOT taste splendid?) But after the full-blown meal, and then a plate of tetrazzini, there’s still half a carcass left taking up real estate and slowly drying out.

But of course, it’s the fitting in that counts. For a while, after I had gradually realized that leftover turkey holds the same appeal as a slow root canal for me and the ‘rents; that the price of reporting that yes, we TOO had had turkey for Thanksgiving was a nasty repeat of turkey for a week; and concluded that fitting in that way just was not worth it, we were able to convince Brother Splunge that Cornish game hens were actually little turkeys. Yes. We lied to a trusting, naive child.

That worked for about three years. Then he was old enough to be cynical and read the labels for the “little turkeys;” talk to his classmates about how he got a whole turkey to himself for Thanksgiving; and deduce that we were feeding him a line along with dinner. So, back to a big brown bird that took three days to defrost, a day to cook, and one meal to get tired of.

So off to Ruidoso we went that year--and had a most excellent time learning to handicap the ponies.

Having discussed yoga in a previous post, it must be time to chat about mara, illusion. And taking up the theme, here's a couple of thoughts on the illusion of perfection.

When I started thinking aboout blogging, I had in my head an image of exactly what I wanted to show. I'd have progress posts every Monday to keep me honest, "window on my world" photos and essays on Wednesdays to keep me looking around and noticing what there was to notice in my world, and essays every Friday. Each little week in perfect order, three posts of opalescent wisdom and humor. Each one oh-so-very timely, with holiday posts in appropriate places, and amusing vignettes.

Thankfully, that crumbled before it could really get in my way.

Writing has always been a top-down experience for me. You start at the top of the page and work your way down. Maybe you have a basic outline in mind (boy finds girl, boy and girl fall in love,monster eats girl, boy seeks vengeance and is turned into a monster himself) but I never worked out of sequence, writing the easy parts first, or drafting the skeleton and building on it. Any time I started to listen to the shoulda's, the center could never hold, and mere anarchy was loosed upon the page.

I was reminded just today that while I've filled lists extolling the virtues of the TKGA's master program, I haven't said a word about it here. I replied that it had been a couple of years since I passed Level I, and I was slogging through Level II. One of the requirements is knitting an argyle sock in the flat, another is knitting a vest.

And I just realized why the program has stalled itself, and may require the push of a new year to get rolling again. I shoulda'd it to death.

I wrote out a list of all the requirements, with deadlines for each one--reasonable deadlines, mind. I've knit argyles flat before, so I know how long it takes, and I know how long it takes me to knit a vest--but I flubbered and the project died about five months in because I don't have colors that turn me on, and I haven't come up with a vest pattern I like. You aren't required to knit a pair of adult socks in fine-gauge yarn; nor are you required to design a vest yourself. But when I missed the first deadline because I was uninspired, I let the project drop because I SHOULD do the work in this particular order. Pffffftt.

I'll say it here, so I can hold myself accountable--one of the wild card projects for next year will be the Master's Program. (As mentioned before, I like to have five going so as to always have something appropriate to the situation. I plan to use Linus Project; Southwest Trading design; socks; and two wild cards as my categories in '05.) And I will work on whatever piece of the thing strikes my fancy--whether it's the swatches, the research, the vest or the socks. Maybe I'll make the argyle socks one of the sock projects.

Some of the women in the local guild are working on their Level I projects. The sad part is that we all started at the same time. It's not that they haven't finished the requirements--most of them have at least one set of swatches completed--but that they're afraid of sending in something that isn't perfect. So they'll re-knit, and re-do, criticizing their efforts and never ever actually putting them forth to be judged. It has to be perfect the first time.

And that's sad because the levels are set up as learning experiences. You do the tasks to the best of your ability at the time, then send them for evaluation. just like in school, the last learning experience most of us had.

Except that after the test is marked, you're handed back your work with information about how to fix the bits that weren't up to par. You didn't fail, this doesn't go on your permanent record--you clearly needed some information you didn't have. And now here's where to find it, so read, learn, and try again. You have nothing to lose but your lack of knowledge.

But no, the gals say they've learned enough knitting up the last batch so they don't feel good about sending off that sub-par bunch of string, and therefore they need to do it all over again so that it's PERFECT.

I can't imagine what they'll do when they actually get a batch off if errors are found. Will they give up? To have done so many four inch bits of knitting, over and over, to have wrestled to read the judges' minds and to have spent so much time only to have to do bits over AGAIN (wailing, tearing of hair, rending of garments) would be frustrating indeed. Especially because more might have been learned with less angst if they had only said--these aren't perfect, not in my eyes. But so what? I'll get feedback regarding what they think isn't right, and I'll re-do the swatches that don't pass muster. More importantly, I get to find out what I'm doing that is just right as it is.

And sometimes, that is indeed the most important part. See you in a week.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Insatiable Monkey Mind

Today tastes like chai and hot chocolate, graham crackers and cardamom.

Lately, it seems that my sig line should be that Lovecraft quote about "the greatest kindness of the universe is the inability of the human mind to correlate its contents."

I’m grumpy at having to get up in the dark, do yoga in the cold, leave at sunrise and return at sunset. Lack of heat and light leaves me scattered and groping. And it’s only going to get worse until late December. Bah! In a civilized society, I’d be able to come to work early (the sun comes up at 5:00 in the morning, here in AZ; my eyelids poink! right open at 5:01 a.m. Even on a Saturday, when I’ve been out painting the town fuschia.) And in summer, I’d leave late, after some of the heat dissipated—say, around 8:00 p.m.

In exchange, during the winter months, I’d drag my leaden limbs through the door around 10:00 a.m., and leave at the reasonable hour of 3:00 p.m. Ah, but no. That is Not the Way the World Works. Or at least, not my world, not right now.

This has been an interesting year—a year of doing things I actively said I would never do. I’d never take up yoga. Freezing in position makes my joints hurt. I’m not flexible enough. I have the tightest hips in Christendom. Never never never . . . say never. You only tempt the gods.

And, of course, when I take something up, I don’t do it by halves. When I learned to knit, I learned on a baby sweater. (Yes, I had a fantastic teacher. I was also lucky enough to be the only one who signed up for the class, so it was a one-on-one experience. ) So by the time I was through the class, I had the basics down and could follow a pattern knit flat in pieces. I knit myself a sweater, teaching myself about cables and fixing errors in cables as I went. At one point, I dropped 12 stitches down six rows to correct some mis-twisting, and then laddered them back up to the body. I can only plead that I didn’t know that was an advanced move, I only knew that I didn’t want to rip more than I had to.

My next project was socks, because I had fallen in love with lace . . . but you see how it goes.

And it’s no different with the old yoga than with “the new yoga.” I get interested, then went to the library and pulled every book on the shelf I could find. I was just interested in hatha yoga, the stuff with all the poses, done for fitness/flexibility. (The first taste is free . . . )

So just recently I was back in the library, feeding the insatiable monkey (AKA the 900-pound baboon). One of the books I picked up was Rodney Yee's _Poetry of the Body_.

Yee is a big name yoga teacher, and what I found refreshing about the essays were his comments on beginning and doing yoga. It goes along with a recent conversation about different bodies and different abilities with the Dowager Empress Odie-Bird. IN an amazing moment of parent-child synchronicity, we took up yoga within a few weeks of each other, with no prior discussion of the subject.

_Poetry of the Body_ is one of Yee’s books. I get the feeling that he’s aiming at the beginner—there’s nothing flaky here regarding meditation, advanced system cleansing, and the poses are arranged in series. I appreciate that very much—I find it easier to learn when there’s some flow to it, when there’s a series of do this, then do that, instead of having to learn about a hundred different poses, then figure out how to arrange them, then . . .

But the part I enjoyed the most is Yee’s essays and interviews with his less-renowned co-author (whose name has slipped my feeble mind.) It’s refreshing to hear someone who makes what appears to be a very nice living talk about his experience as a beginner in the field he now works in. It feels good to have a yoga teacher explaining that no, actually, he left ballet because he was so inflexible, and now he does yoga because he’s still naturally tight.

And to read it now, while I'm feeling like toffee that has cooled (when it was warm, I flowed in ribbons and mounds of satiny shiny smoothness. Now that it's cold, I'm brittle. I flex a tiny bit, then snap.)--well, it makes me feel better and encourages me to just be with it now. Not to worry about what was a few months ago, how it will be when summer returns, just to take deep breaths and do what works for me right now.

Additionally, Yee has another book worth a flip through _8 Weeks of Yoga With Rodney Yee_. It has routines laid out like the book I am leaning on, and I snitched his restorative routine. I do some poses from that on the mornings when "my bed is warm, my pillow deep" and it's hard to drag myself to the mat. I set a timer, so if I drift off, something will bring me back in time for shower and breakfast, and then settle in. Ahhhhhh, it's like 2 hours of sleep in fifteen minutes.

I plan to obtain materials to build some props because I can't see spending the kind of money supply shops want for bolsters. I priced the materials out, because we all know that fallacy of being able to make it cheaper than you can buy it. It looks like the cotton batts will be the pricy part. Polar fleece (which is what I'd want to cover the things with [ohh so soft and cushiony]) and plain weave for the pillow forms is cheap, especially this time of year.

Anyway, build some props and then establish that Fridays when I get home, I do a full restorative routine to pinch off the workweek and get ready for the weekend. Right now, it seems like I finally get relaxed and weekendish, then look at the clock . . . and it's 7 p.m. On Sunday. Ahhhhrrrrrgh!

I also said I’d never start blogging. I have multiple physical journals, and also do a little bookbinding, so have enough blank books to keep me going forever. I had started a couple of private, eyes-only web logs to get the really vituperative junk out of my head and off where it wouldn’t have repercussions. So why would I want a public diary?

But then, as a constant knitter, I would get asked by friends whom I see monthly if I ever finished anything. I knit primarily for charity—Project Linus in particular. Blankets are good easy social knitting, especially in garter stitch. But since I was knitting to give away, no-one ever saw the fruits of my labors. And I don’t have much use for sweaters in the low desert. That which is not seen is not, after all.

That, and I’m prone to startitis. (“Hi, I’m Spike, and I’m a startaholic.” “Hi, Spike.” “I’ve begun four sweaters, a yoga mat bag, two pairs of socks and three blankets in the last week . . . I’m running out of needles.”) So it seemed to me that beginning a diary of projects would let me tell people who asked where to look to find pictures of what I’d done, as well as keeping me honest about the progress (or, ahem, lack thereof) in my knitting.

Then a group of pixel pals (who uses pens any more, I ask you) from an e-mail list all began blogging, and reading through the little bitty ring that was formed to let all the members find and read their virtual (and in some cases, meat) friends’ words of wisdom and look at the projects being chatted about on the list finally inspired me to get going on my own. And now that I’ve been here a couple of months, I’m really pleased with the side benefits.

It’s easier to write. I ran across a comment in my trolling the web, where the person writing the commentary put forth the idea that there are four types of writers—prolific facile; prolific agonized; scanty facile; and scanty agonized. I belong firmly to the agonized school of writing, which is why my first drafts are so clean—I’ve gone back and revised even as I type the sentence out. (By the time you see these words, I’ve already gone over and revised it at least twice.)

But now I have to face the blank screen three times a week (yes, it’s a self-imposed schedule. Aren’t they all, to some extent?) and bang out something I’d want to read regarding where I’m at in this uber-project we call life. And sometimes I score a big one and hit the mark on what I’d want to say, with authenticity and flair. And other times, well, what’s floating in the punch bowl is not a Baby Ruth bar.

On top of that, in order to get what I want insofar as the visuals on this site, I’m having to learn to navigate my way around photoediting programs, learn some baby code, figure out where stuff gets stashed when these programs do what they do . . . and I can see a lot more ahead.

At least I’m enjoying the journey.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Loading Buttons to Blogger Via Hello

Having confessed my pathetic computing abilities to certain fellow bloggers, how much harm can there be to confessing to all the people who read this? I had read the directions for loading a button graphic and making a link; but the problem was finding a spot on the web to place the graphic. That was the one hole in the process.

I don’t have a web page. After all, I’m running a free account through Blogger. So I needed to find a way to figure out where Hello put my pictures.

I loaded a picture that I planned to delete anyway, so if something happened and it vanished into the ether, then nothing of any importance would be lost. After loading and posting via Hello, I reopened the post.

Up popped all the HTML coding, which I copied and pasted into a Word document. Suspenders, and a belt, and a pair of pants underneath, I know.

I located the source code, and copied that information, since the only thing that would be different is the name of the object. Just like any other file with multiple documents in the file. I uploaded the button with Hello just like a picture.

I then went to the template page, cut and pasted the source code I had copied, and changed the name of the object. I added the code to make the link live, et viola! (And cello? Maybe bass viol? Heck, the whole chamber orchestra.) It worked.

Monday, November 15, 2004

My button - I hope. Posted by Hello

Vita Brevis, Texere Accelerante

Today tastes like . . . pomegranate juice, cream soda, and cinnamon.

Listening to: John Grisham’s _A Time to Kill_. Can you say “eclectic reader?” I knew you could.

This is a grimmer Grisham with more gore and pain than he usually dishes out. Most of my experience with him has been white-collar problems—inheritance woes, long-standing legal issues regarding dueling businesses. This is gritty, and begs questions regarding racial justice and vigilanteeism. Heavy dose of ethics, here, and no simple solutions.

Progress report:

Spent another weekend on the Queen Anne’s Lace Cardi. I pulled out my knitter’s bag o’ tricks to see if I could motivate the article into wanting to be done—I’m certainly inspired to get it finished!

I tried punishment . . .  Posted by Hello

. . . Enlightenment . . .  Posted by Hello

. . . Wine, women, and song.  Posted by Hello

I finally tried chocolate. Posted by Hello

And the cardi finally co-operated with sleevy goodness.  Posted by Hello
Now all I need to do is throw an end-weaving party, write up my notes in logical format, and this project will be ready to deliver!

In other news, I’m headed to Mexico later this week to attend a family reunion (family of choice, they’re my in-laws). I’m trying to convince myself that I only need to bring along one or two pairs of socks, that I won’t actually knit and knit and knit until my hands fall off. Choosing the couple of pairs, though, that’s the hard part.

I have one self-striper almost complete; I’m shaping the toe. Clearly that and its zygotic companion need to go along. I have a sport weight sock with both cuffs knit, so I need to haul the yarn for that one, too. (And decide on a pattern for the leg. I am lusting dreadfully over the Bavarian twisted stitch patterns --- but can’t justify hauling the pattern books with me. I may take the Bavarian style pattern from one of the hats in the latest _Cast On_ [yes, the patterns are nothing short of dreadful, but they have some good technique and a few nice elements to their patterns] as it would be easy to chart out on a index card, or type into my PDA.)

And then what? Well, that’s where I get stuck.

I could bring some Encore, and notes on Bordhi’s turned toes, and someone else’s reverse Dutch heel, and a little chart for stochastic cables using a coin, and work a pair toes-up in rehearsal for self-striping socks. I do like the self-striping yarns, and don’t care if the sequence isn’t perfectly matched—but I like my socks at a finer gauge than they’re calculated for, and so am often concerned about running out. Hence, I’m working on a blue box toes-up recipe so I can have all the features that matter—a deep enough heel flap, arch shaping, a heel that looks good in the self-striping yarn—and not be nibbling my lip as I work frantically toward the toe, knitting faster like the Texas Aggie painting faster as his paint supply ran low.

I could also force myself to make some choices, and bring some sport weight acrylic and a couple of Bavarian patterns, and knit me some clocked socks with contrast toes and heels. That would take the worst of the itch off until I could work some of the WIPs off the list.

Then again, I could take along the aforementioned notes and some self-striping yarn, and go ahead and do my trial knitting of blue box sox in the actual yarns and on the actual needles.

On the third hand, I could take one of each. (grin) Clothing? Who needs clothing? I’ll have socks.

I think I really should just opt in for the pharonic plan and have everything buried with me so I’ll have all eternity to work on them.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A More Personal View

“In Flander's Fields"
By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

My grandfather, who turned 98 years old this July, is a WWII vet, the last of his division. Those of you counting on your fingers, with a grasp of history, are probably shaking their heads about now.

“Pearl Harbor – the incident that caused America to involve itself in World War II—was December 17, 1941. Your grandfather would have been in his forties by the time America began drafting! Didn’t he have a family started by then? He should have been able to back out honorably due to age and familial obligations.”

Well, yes, but instead he chose to accept the responsibilities that accrue to adult males in America, and answered his draft summons. My mother, the youngest of his five children, was old enough to remember her father before he left for war.

And of course, she was old enough to remember when he came home, suffering from what would later be called “shell shock” and then “post-traumatic stress disorder.” He literally was not her father any more, and for some time, my grandparents lived apart in order to preserve the marriage.

Now, as mentioned, he is a 98 year old widower, and time has assumed a particular plasticity for him. Someone will say something that sparks a memory, and for the moment he’s back in whatever time it was, and relates to the speaker as if they were someone back there with him. Now, if you float along beside him, he’ll tell the stories that hurt too much when they had to go through conscious filters.

My father was lucky, he served time in the Navy just after Korea, and just before Viet Nam.

However, neither my husband nor brother have put in their hitch. Neither has children. Neither is over 35.

Do I worry? Yes.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Insert Country Joe and the Fish Chant Here

While surfing blogs yesterday, I came across one by a young Canadian (today is Remembrance Day up north) and he was commenting that although he made an especial point to pick up and wear the poppy in his lapel, he wasn’t able to support the current war.

I’m in touch with that. I’ve had exceedingly mixed feelings about the war. Kerry asked during the debates “How can you ask someone to be the last man to die?” Well, Senator, the same way you ask someone to be the first. With a clear and steady voice that belies the writhing knot in the pit of your stomach.

As I recall, we were in a hell of a bind at the time. Schroedinger’s Cat was chairing the foreign policy committees. Hussein might and might not have had WMD or the facilities to create them. He was certainly posturing as if he did. He had committed atrocities against his own people. His sons were just as bad. And we were certainly not on his Duhl Hijja card list. Go, or no go?

It costs big bucks to maintain military alertness. For one person in the field, there are ten people at desks making sure stuff goes where it needs to be when it needs to get there. And ramping up and rattling sabers does not achieve permanent results. (Libya is a glorious exception—and even then, Qdaffi did not shut down until we actually mobilized into Afghanistan.) Go, or no go?

Now, the point has been made, and I will reiterate, that Afghanistan came to us. We chose to go to Iraq. It will not surprise me when the memoirs come out if there is something mentioned about taking care of unfinished business from back in the daze of Desert Storm. I only and sincerely hope that leaving Bin Laden in Afghanistan does not come back to bite us the same way that leaving Hussein in Iraq did ten years ago.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Terminal Startitis

Today tastes like . . . clay and chalk. Not the sweetish modeling plastecine—this is the nasty gritty stuff clawed from the ground, cold, clammy, stale.

I have startitis so badly, they’re going to break down the door and slap me on life support soon. Tubes up the nose, incomprehensible but scientific sounding labels flying thick as bulky cotton cables, medical codes and abbreviations shouted at leather-lunged volume. Someone will undoubtedly yell “Stat!” often.

It all began with the deep disappointment over the weekend spent wrestling with the sleeves of the Queen Anne’s Lace. I’ve been pointedly ignoring it as it snivels in the Carry-me Bag o’KIP, pleading that it’ll be good this time, that no one understands me like it does, that baby if I’ll only come back things will be different this time. It hasn’t yet sent flowers. I haven’t yet filed for an Order of Protection. We may reconcile yet.

But right now . . . oh, right now I’m cruising the singles bar of my stash and the knitting blogosphere. Hmmmmm . . . that Ribby Cardi on Bonnie’s blog looks mighty hot. Ooooh, look at the lovely smoke ring patterns at Heartstrings. And I’ve been deep (o so very very deep) in lusting love with Jenna’s bad boy, that Rogue. I’ve gone to third base with him, recharting his cables so they run . . . all . . . the way . . .down. He’d be so, so lush in rayon chenille; all I need to do is knit a swatch and re-gauge him (and nobody can re-gauge a sweater like I can, baby. Nobody.)

And the other night, as I kicked the Bag o’KIP to the curb (ok, by the front door, work with me here) I got a bit too close to the bookcase, and fell into my copies of _Bauerliches Stricken_ (gesundheit!) where I began paging through all the wondermus Bavarian twisty cables. And I recall in _Folk Vests_ that they’ve got a nice one where the triangular clock pattern runs from the waistband up to the shoulders with a neat little fill pattern in between . . . and I’ve been reminded how much I adore cardis . . . and how neatly cables pop in chenille . . . and now I need a cold shower. And a cigarette.

Hoo. So I guess it’s about time to go sink an hour into the Queen Anne’s Lace. And about halfway through that hour, I’ll see once more the vision she was when she came to me in that coffee house, and that memory will be enough to see me through this project. We have a history after all. I’ll just have to chuck Rogue under the chin and say, “We’ll always have the workshop, kid.”

Monday, November 08, 2004

Vanity Fair and Sleeve Island

Today tastes like . . . axel grease and cotton candy, dust and hot dogs, iron railings and curly fries. It’s been a helluva day thus far—and it’s not even over!

Listening to: Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I love the classics, I just find them hard to sit and read. Reading for me is reading in bits and bites—fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there. It’s tough for me to focus on long and intricate sentences or mannered plots in short spurts.

However, I love to have them read to me. The narrator’s voice brings me right back to where I left off (ah, yes, she’s just found out Mr. Rochester is still married to the madwoman in the attic, so she got up in the middle of the night—and I had to turn the player off and go to work. But now, here I am in the car, on my way home, and Jane is slipping out the wicket gate, off to who knows where.) whereas if I were reading this back at home while making dinner, I’d have to back up a page or three to get back to where I was.

And yes, the player Audible used to flog (I don’t know about the MuVo) came with attachments to allow you to play it over your car stereo, so you could listen hands and ears free. Just like radio without commercials, jabbering DJ’s, and with a program you were really interested in—all the time.

Progress report:

Here’s the ups part of the roller-coaster ride. I mentioned I had created Hagatha for an on-line list of folks-- the good people at Knitting Beyond the Hebrides. Part of what the list has been doing to promote excellent knitting (knitterly knitting, with an emphasis on finishing technique and knitting skill) has been to hold Virtual Conferences, where the focus is on certain knitting techniques. Fair Isle and stranded knitting, Aran and other cables, that sort of thing. The conference mascot has always featured an evil looking witch, with hooked nose and bulging eyes, toothless maw agape in a wicked grin, holding her knitting needles in the stereotyped way, wrapped in a swath of her own knitting. “Hagatha” is based largely on this cartoon.

This conference was “Way Beyond the Hebridies” and featured frippery knitting—knitting sculpted items, knitting with trendy frou-frou yarn, knitting at its simplest level without esoteric techniques.

They ran a contest for knitted items, and in the process of the conference, the deadline for entry was moved to allow for a little more time to take photos and post. I was working from my old notes, and when I went to post Hagatha—I thought I was too late. So I put her here, and dropped a note on KBTH, since this was her intended audience, after all. I was hoping for a mention on-list, and maybe to be able to post a picture on the website.

Well! Due to an enthusiastic write-in campaign (Nader should have been so lucky) Hagatha was awarded the “Way Beyond the Stratosphere” award! I’m beyond psyched.

And now for the plunging crash of the downs. When I sat down to work on the Queen Anne’s Lace cardi this weekend, I was halfway through the sleeves.

After spending the whole weekend working on the cardi, I am . . . halfway through the sleeves. Grrrrrr . . . sometimes process is incompatible with progress.

I thought I had a good idea with how the sleeves should be worked and attached. And they looked great . . . until you actually put the garment on a human being. Then they bagged and bulged strangely. So, rippity rippity rippity. Try another way. Nope, just as bad. Rip, rip, rip. Try again?

Finally decided that while it would have been really cool to work them attached as you go to avoid anything like sewing (‘cos the really cool thing about crochet is that you can take off in any direction you wish, to cover a 3-d object smoothly with an essentially 2-d covering without the limitation of needing to work in rows, like knitting) it just wasn’t going to do. Well, ok, if this were a one-off, it would be no problem. I would just drape as I went, and the whole thing would be just fine. On me. Maybe on people who were shaped very much like me. But no way would this work in a pattern.

The response I’ve been getting from other crocheters is that the garment is gorgeous and wonderful and oh my gosh I could NEVER do that—and to this last, when I explain that it’s nothing more than a chain partially filled with double crochet and then topped with chain picots, they stop and stare and say, “Is that all? I think I COULD do that . . .” Which is after all, exactly what I’m after. A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, after all.

So—no pictures till this is done, I think. All there is is one big purple glob with two little purple rectangles. See previous shots for stitch pattern and texture. The picture in your mind is probably better than the actual shot would be.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Slip Me Some Tongue

Today tastes like cornmeal, chiles, cheese, and tongue.

I've been playing with the Dowager Empress Odie-Bird's Revered Relleno Recipie (TM), and the results have been . . . tasty. Scroll down for the actual instructions, then pop back up for the modifications.

For the first itiration, I wrapped the Monterey Jack cheese straws in smoked turkey slices before slipping them into the peppers. That worked nicely, smoky salty turkey with the gooey cheese and the sting of the chiles.

Today I tried adding beef tongue. Oh my.

Bink, First Consort Gareth's father, would make tacos de lengua for special occasions. It's a good deal of (hot, nasty) work -- first to obtain the tongue, then to cook it and let it cool overnight, then chop chop chop the meat into little nuggets of rich beefy goodness. THEN, you can heat the oil and stand over it folding and frying tacos; which have to be eaten while they're hot, so the cook ends up feeding everyone else first, and then making one more serving for himself.

And of course, one tongue makes about four dinners for four people. We are two. There's lots of leftovers.

This would not be a bad thing, except that tacos are a lot of work, and even with the tongue prepared, you still get to stand over the vat of boiling oil for an hour or so.

But rellenos--that's a five minute dish. And the tongue and the cheese interact to make a wonderful buttery flavor, spiked out of its rich dream by the chiles.

Here's how it works.

You'll need whole roasted chili peppers--Big Jim is the common variety. They're four to six inches long. We're lucky enough to be able to buy them roasted, stuff 'em in baggies while they're hot, then toss 'em in the freezer.

So, thaw, peel, and seed one chile per person for a side dish, three or four for a light meal.

Take a block of Monterey Jack, and cut one narrow slice of cheese per pepper. Wrap the cheese with a thin slice of the chosen meat. The whole bundle should be about the size of your little finger, or a breakfast sausage link. Stuff the chile with the bundle.

Scramble one egg, and lay out some cornmeal--about three tablespoons per chile. Swish the chile through the egg, roll it in the cornmeal, and fry the chiles in about two tablespoons of oil until the cornmeal is golden brown and crunchy.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Iggy Pop Said It Best

I’ve noticed something in the past year, and will undoubtedly keep noticing for the next four.

Liberals tend to talk, conservatives tend to act.

After the results of this last election, surfing the blogosphere, I find the Kerry supporters issuing statements of shock, awe, and dismay, blogging about how they haven’t stopped crying since November 3 at 1:00 p.m. EST, moaning about how they can’t understand why people didn’t vote for Kerry; promulgating stiff upper lips in the very best self-help feel good style (or whispering about picking up and moving to Canada).

Blah blah blah. What are you DOING about it?

What is knitting in the dark movie theater so no one can see you cry DOING about making the social/political changes you see as necessary? What is talking about it on your electronic public diary DOING to move your agenda forward?

What is printing T-shits that proclaim “52% of Ohio SUCKS” doing to convince the people who voted Bush into office that your point of view is correct, reasonable, and respectful? How are you winning friends for the Democratic party with “Moving to Canada/New Zealand/Russia” parties?

The contingent where Kerry had the most votes was the 18-29 year old demographic. These are your grassroots. These are the people already on your side. This is where the focus needs to go, and needs to go now, while you actually have some passion. However, approximately 20 percent of the eligible (registered) voters in this group got off their butts and cast ballots this last November 2. Why aren’t you mobilizing them? They’re already sold on the Democrat platform.

But no, blah blah blah is easier and less risky than determining where your market is and taking proactive action. Parody is easier than creation. Putting time and effort and energy into moving the wheel and getting momentum rolling with an eye on 2008 is hard work, and detracts from time spent looking ever so clever and punditry.

And, of course, it makes you look like a conservative, since you’re actually doing instead of talking.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Hagatha ----Wayyy Beyond the Hebrides

Hagatha, the witch enthralled, sits knitting a sock. 299 and one-half more pairs (when she finishes this one) and she'll be free to begin work on the sweater that will unravel the enchantment. Posted by Hello

Hagatha takes a well-deserved break, little suspecting that this candid may end up in Wicked Witch of the Week . . . Posted by Hello

Whoops! Never turn your back on a mischievous cameraperson! Posted by Hello

Brownian Stillness

Today tastes like peanut butter taffy in the black and orange wrappers, streamers, and confetti.

Listening to: Stephen King's Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower. Have heard through the grapevine that this is the last book King intends to write, that he will, in the words of somebody or another "Write no more forever."

Not sure if that is more comforting (it's good when players we admire retire at the top of thier game instead of being forced to quit by failing bodies and falling market share); relieving (it's been a long time since any of his works seduced me, lured me into spending a day and night compulsively reading as the dishes pile up, as my joints get tired and stiff from inactivity, but like a relationship that's entered a fallow period, I can't give up on his writing entirely. In part, because I remember the days when I headily giddily swung as he pushed me with his words and his characters and it seemed like we'd be together forever in an unending summer evening); or depressing (I hate to see anything end, even when it hasn't been satisfying).

Progress Report: Have been working on the Queen Anne's Lace Cardi, and have reached the point where it doesn't photograph well. Both the fronts are finished, and the sides have been worked up. Have begun (but not attached) the first sleeve--so all a picture would show is a big purple blob with a little purple strip lying next to it.

The Castle Blanket has a couple more little squares done, but you'd have to know exactly where I stopped to focus on the cardi to see the difference. Ditto for the sock--I'm a little further along on the instep (having taken that along tonight to work on at the guild meeting) but, again, nothing blog-worthy.

Hence, the title of this post. My creative universe is not moving at this point in time.

Here would be where I'd be tempted to put in the results of some little fluffy whatcha from Quizilla--"What Kind of Procrastinator Are You?" However, I swore to myself that if I ever did that, I'd give up blogging entirely. I love the quizzes--every time I see one on someone else's blog I click the link and go play along--but somehow, they always seem like the breadcrumbs of blogging. Filler, not binder. I couldn't find anything else to say today, but in order to keep my hits up I have to post something, so, uhm, here it is.

Instead, I'll keep a promise to some on-line folks, and post photos of a particular finished object. I'll even post them AFTER this long essay, so they can find the meat more easily, assuming they come to this party. See you up above!