Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005: "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I *gakkkkkkkk*"

2005 is going to bed with a big damn Reaver stake through it's heart. Please bury it at a crossroads, cut off the head and salt the grave. Call in a priest and sprinkle some holy water, even. Let it be gone.

Welcome 2006. May it be all manner of better, may there be all kinds of blessings and come this time next year, may we feel sad at it's passing because it was so very merry.
I don't always agree with everything they say over at Jewlicious, but it's a good blog, keeps me informed and every once in a while they do something truly inspired. Well done. That made me laugh out loud so hard I scared the cats. I've always felt there is something to be said for tweaking the nose of the hateful and stupid.

I've been putting some songs on my new iPod this morning and feeling sad that my laptop with my 20+ gigs of music is still fritzed. Much as I love the husband, our musical tastes only overlap by about 20%, the rest is all headphones music as far as I'm concerned. I'm gonna have to resynch and reload the new toy with MY music when I get the laptop back, whenever that day may be. My husband, Aussie and kids got together and got me an iPod for my birfday and I am really tickled. It's black, so very gofftastic, and VERY VERY TINY. I am a little afraid of the tiny. Fear the iPod. Love the iPod. It is a deeply conflicted relationship, but I forsee that it will spend time with me in many places, keep me company on the bus, sit with me when I knit in coffee shops. Oh yes. Conflicted like the very best relationships. Mmmmm.

Started the second color on the gradient socks but am not loving how it shifts, so thinking that as I am too lazy to be arsed to rip it back, on the second sock I'll just alternate rows for a bit and ease into the colorshift. Which I should have done on the first sock, but I'm lame like that sometimes. Heh. God I love knitting socks. *

A new year is upon us and I am looking forward to the annual family ritual of champagne, cider, pie, Chinese food and screening of The Great Race. Kids are getting older, we don't have many more years to pile into the big bed and watch a movie all together and toast with crackers and sparkly stuff. Soon they'll be wanting to go on their own celebratory outings. Great Race features the best pie fight ever filmed. Brandy! Mooooore brandy! AHAHHAHAHA! I don't have much in the way of resolutions - I never keep them - but I definitely plan to keep some of the upward trends going. Like staying on top of our finances, that's gotten so much better. Can't slack off. We paid off our car this last month, for example! One less debt to worry about. I might go back to school. A little scared to do that after things crashed and burned so spectacularly for me last year, but honestly, I really am stronger, healthier and in a space where I've got to start to get back up on the horse. Can't lick my wounds forever. So we'll see.

In this moment, I have yarn, I have a new blue coffee mug that my friend S threw me her very own self, I have my family and I'm feeling pretty blessed and happy overall. Hope y'all have a safe and happy transition into 2006 and may it not suck as bad as 2005. Which was kind of like, 12 months of July**. Anyway, yeah. May it be good.

*Still really fighting the compulsion to buy some Bearfoot and Trekking XXL. Sock yarn is so totally gonna be my undoing.

**July, a few years back, was the worst, most sucktackular month ever, for me and all my friends. July lasted more than 30 days. I think, iirc, July was still prancing around masquerading as October when all was said and done. That was 2004. 2005 was just like one big long July, from about February onward, though it's been slowly getting better. This year, I hope July buggers off and leaves us all alone. Or else.

Friday, December 30, 2005

My daughter got up early and made me these for my birthday today.

I am the luckiest of mamas.

My friend Foxy knit me a Muppet.

Tiki tried to kill the Muppet but it is safely put up and I am going to sew felt teeth on it, glue on a pair of googly eyes and then I am going to line it and put a snap closure on it and THEN I am going to use it as my knitting bag for when I go to SnB. My friend Foxy, who intended the Muppet to be a huge joke, is probably appalled that I am actually going to use it, but hey. There's a lotta love in that there Muppet bag.

So today I turned 36 and I have to say, when your natal day and the advent of the (western) calendar new year coincide, it makes for a lot of Deep Thots and ruminating and just generally, thinking about changes and resolutions of all sorts. I haven't really made any, though I do have some plans and some areas where I'd like to get some momentum going forward. But more on that later.

Husband and children threw me a lovely party tonight, good friends, great food, good wine and a lot of fun conversation. It was truly a happy, happy day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A little fearless introspection will sometimes turn up uncomfortable truths that one does not really want to otherwise face. I have to face it. I have once again fallen prey to The Uniform. For the last year and change, I've pretty much worn nothing but green cargo pants (I have several pairs that I rotate), the black baby doll tee with pithy saying, and combat boots. Now this was cool the first time I wore it. It looked good, looked hip, I didn't feel like a frumpy thirty something mommy, I felt good but not like I was trying to look like my daughter. It worked for me. A year and a half later, the look is getting stale, I'm getting bored and besides, my three pairs of green cargo pants that I rotate all week have started to develop holes in the butt because I wear them every. single. day. So I've been casting around for some new clothes that don't make me look like the Stay Puffd Marshmallow Mommy, to no avail. Also, I got new combat boots for Christmas and they are four holes taller than the old pair, so I could conceivably wear some stuff to show the stompiness off a little better, right? Right. Anyway.

This whole train of thought got me to thinking about Uniforms Past. See, I do this. I am a Creature Of Habit. I hate to shop and I simply cannot be arsed to deal with thinking about clothing.

There was the oversized, men's blue chambray workshirt and black leggings Uniform (ok, I got wild with this one and sometimes I rotated flannels or shirts made of rayon into the mix) that I wore back in the mid 90's. That one lasted a long, long time. I think I might've worn that until close to 2000. Sometimes I'd throw in jeans or sweats to mix it up a little, but really, it didn't change much. Then came the wild years. Worn jeans with white Indian embroidered hippy tunics or red Docs, rolled up overalls and either short or long sleeve fitted tee shirt Uniforms that I wore a lot post 9/11. Those lasted until I wore holes in all my overalls, the Indian shirts wore through and I bought cargo pants sometime in late 2003/early 2004.

It will be 2006 in a few days and I need a change. To that end, I've considered buying a week's worth of this skirt and rotating that in with some of those spifty Indian style tunics (new, of course) which would be stylin' and not a lot of mental effort. But I'm also beginning to wonder why it is that clothing scares me so badly and why it is that I get stuck in these ruts. I was thinking this, and putting my hair up a few minutes ago, I had resolved to be daring and maybe not get stuck into the Uniform Rut again this year when I caught sight of myself in a mirror. Black yoga pants. Black fitted hoodie. Hey.... sporty... easy... it matches... not a lot of thought.... I could just get a few more hoodies and some more yoga pants and....

yeah, doomed. And I still don't have any new clothes and my cargo pants all still have holes in the butt and.... doomed.
I am a fickle knitter. I ended up ripping out the IK Go With The Flow socks for the second time, scrapping the pattern entirely and just recasting it on and setting up something in st st with a nice cable going up each side. The yarn really obscured the pattern in the end, so this is better, I think. I *love* variegated sock yarn and always go for that over the solids, but then the nifty patterns that might look better in a solid don't work out and I am just going to have to get over myself and get some solid sock yarn here, I think.

Christmas at our house is gone. I have pulled down the tree, packed away all the stuff and I'm feeling rather happy about it overall. Sometimes I let Christmas hang around, but all in all for me right now, there is a real desire to just get on with the end of the year and move forward. Move past. Get going. Like Ellis Paul says, the world ain't slowing down. Plus, it is nice to have the house entirely devoted to Chanukah now and the menorah with pride of place on the table looks very nice. I am thinking tonight we might go hog wild and light all three. Why not? Usually we rotate (we each have one) so that everybody gets a chance to use "their" menorah. Why not light all of them together? They had a pic of a whole tableful over at Jewlicious and I liked how it looks, so sure, why not?

Picked up a copy of the Yarn Harlot's Secret Life Of A Knitter yesterday while I was out spending a gift card at Borders, and they had EZ's Knitting Without Tears so I grabbed that too. Finding her instructions for sweater knitting to be most interesting and to that end, I think some Wool of the Andes might have to come to my house so I can knit one. I am not so keen on WotA, but it is cheap enough for a nice trial sweater and then once I work the kinks out, I think I'll make one in Elegance. That stuff, I love. Yum.

I need to get the heck off my computer. I'm hanging around thinking "Oh, I could just get a few skeins of larkspur colored Bearfoot here at this yarn website and...." yeah. That way lies peril. Oh, couldn't I just have a little peril? I have to be saved from the peril. No, no, really, I'll be all right. I think a little peril might be good for me. Sock yarn is going to be my undoing, mang.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Boot Fairy came, I really should have mentioned, and there are a brand spankin new pair of 14 hole Doc Martens sitting on the chair in the bedroom.

I am almost afraid to wear them, they gleam. They are black, stompy perfection.

Ah, what a world, that has such boots in it!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Someone left a Vosges Red Fire Bar in my stocking this morning. Now that is my kind of stuffer! Because of my relatively recent and rapidly worsening nut allergies, a lot of things (like marzipan and dark choccies) which I used to adore are now verboten. Finding really nice chocolates that have some interesting additions can be hard when you rule out most nuts. I am a huge fan of the Naga and Black Pearl bars also made by Vosges, and immensely fond of the Dagoba Chocolates Xocolatl bar. This seemed right up my alley.

Initial taste, bittersweet dark chocolate immediately followed up with a hit of spice, then a long, lingering, gentle burn. Wow! They aren't kidding about the fire.

I can't do a side by side comparison of the Red Fire vs. Xococatl bars, but I can at least say that the Vosges offering has a darker, richer, much more bitter chocolate and the chilies have much more of a bite than the Dagoba, which I remember as a little creamier, sweeter and offers a different balance of chilies to chocolate. I like both. The Vosges bar is one to savor, bite by teensy bite, while the Dagoba bar isn't such a singularly compelling experience. You don't want to be multitasking while you nibble a Vosges chocolate bar, but I could see nibbling on the Dagoba offering while doing other stuff and not missing any nuances.

Chocolate and chilies are a nice combo with Royal Golden Yunnan tea, as well. Yum. Go get one!

A note about Dagoba chocolates. They have several Fair Trade offerings and some single origin chocolates for them as are FT inclined. Vosges, while stylish, yummy and really pretty, does not have much of a socially aware spiel on the website.
I have always celebrated both Christmas and Chanukah because my family is mixed. My parents were interfaith and now my children are being raised by a Jew (me) and a Christian (their dad). So both is how it works for us. I know there is a lot of angst in the more orthodox sections of Jewish faith about all the interfaith marriages, about people leaving but I also know that when you leave the door open and it's a little flexible, sometimes people come *back*. And I, having gone this long, circuitous route from Jewish thought to pagan thinking to Eastern philosophy (and one regrettable stint in the Baptist Church when I was particularly lonely and vulnerable and seeking love and acceptance), now I have come all the way back full circle to where I began. I am a Jew and the Jewish faith is where my heart lies. All of the things I have studied and learned and thought about along the way have informed this choice, made it more heartfelt and truly, rooted in faith, not just mouthing something empty.

This weird journey has taught me that there are a whole lot of paths up the mountain and they're all good, all valid and all worthy of my respect (even when I do not understand them and even when they make me personally a little uncomfortable like my Salvation Army extended family by marriage). I think that it's really smart and good to study from a lot of books, read the teachings of many teachers and that in doing this, you will often find the path that is marked with your name. You will find your path maybe a little clearer, maybe not. It's a highly personal journey.

So yeah. Christmas. Chanukah. Back to the point of this little musing.

We celebrate both. I *love* Christmas. I am definitely more about Santa and Christmas is more about a secular thing than it is about the birth of Jesus (which happened in July anyway) but the things Jesus talked about like, love your neighbor, be nice to each other, don't be a jerk... those are things I can get behind and so Christmas is a nice day to celebrate those principles, even if I don't worship the man who (in this instance) espoused them. I like Jesus. I have no beef with his birthday. I have a tree, we have ornaments and lights and we do it all up. It is meaningful and there are family rituals that we must do every year and it works for us.

I have a feeling that my Chanukah experience is probably going to change a bit, especially because I've come back to my faith and am learning things I didn't know before. What was always special to me is probably going to become meaningful in different ways. I'll let you know as it evolves.

So here is how it breaks down for me basically.

Christmas = being kind, loving and good to each other, friends, family and perfect strangers.

Chanukah = celebration of a miracle and the fact that amazing things can happen unexpectedly.

Today has been a really good mix of the two of those things.

We didn't have the money for a big stack of gifts, but we did what we could and lo and behold, the kids were thrilled. Pronounced it the best one ever. Amazing and unexpected, but they are happy and I don't think it mattered about the size of their gifts. They have been unbelievably kind to each other today, generous and big hearted. The teenager who has been staying with us off and on was able to be with us this morning, when we thought that might be impossible, so there is a little holiday miracle.

For me personally, the day isn't even half over, we haven't even gotten to Chanukah yet, but I am finding my faith affirmed, I am happy and incredibly grateful for all the miracles we have been given today.

It truly is the best day ever, and maybe it is just because I celebrate both but I'm going to go with the theory that Christmas and Chanukah converged this year and the miracles, kindness and good things that both bring are just increased exponentially because of it.

Happiest of holidays, y'all, whatever you celebrate. May it be blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Oh thank god that's over for another year. It was a nice afternoon but I'm completely exhausted. Today was nice but yet challenging on several levels and I am ready for a quiet day tomorrow. My nephews were darling, as usual. The baby is really getting around and it made Tiki a little nervous. She spent a decent portion of the day in the bedroom and when she was out, she was on lead with either J or I. She did okay, a little growly at the 3 year old once or twice. Not a dog I'd leave alone with a small child, not for one second, but she isn't a bad dog at all. Just timid.

My BiL unexpectedly showed up with his girlfriend who has MS and is in a wheelchair. I'm always glad to see her but there are accessibility issues here at our place, it is tiny, cramped and there is virtually no room to maneuver a chair. Add in 7 more adults, two small kids and two medium kids, two cats and a dog, a Christmas tree in an awkward place and only one accessible bathroom, it begins to be problematic. Did the best we could, moved some furniture around, it was okay - but I will be happy when we are able to move out of here and into a more friendly space. Also a little frustrating because her disease has progressed to the point where she does require a good deal of help and my BiL, bless his heart, is completely oblivious to her needs. Once he is made aware, he does try to help, but usually there is a minor disaster before he realizes she needs something. I just wish he'd be a little more thoughtful. Nobody else in the family seems inclined to give him a hand, either. It is really hard to know what to do, hard to grok where the line between being a good hostess and being a meddling pain in the ass lies, so I spend a lot of time worried about it. I try to check in with her a lot but as I've said before, I find it very awkward. I am convinced that my BiL is Asberger's which would account for his utter lack of empathy and other personality traits. I find him awkward too. Hard to intuit.

Started making IK's Go With The Flow socks. IK's sock patterns are invariably too small for my feet. I have flippers or something. I wish they gave size variations for their sock patterns for those of us lacking dainty little extremities. Have modified the pattern to be knit toe up and also increased it a bit - I think it'll work out ok now. Using three skeins of Koigu KPPPM that vary from very light to very dark but are all related, and am doing a sort of gradient thing starting with dark at the toe. Socks will ultimately end up very light at the cuff. Thus far, it is not obscuring the cables too badly at all and I'm very pleased with my results. I think these might be dandy.

My yarn from Knit Picks came today. Not super impressed with the yarns in the skein (I have a skein each of Merino Style, Elegance and Wool of the Andes) but will wait to see how they swatch up/wash. Of the three, the Elegance is my favorite, in skein. I *do* love the Shimmer laceweight. Pity it comes in such a limited color palette. I'm hoping I love the yarn I'm swatching eventually because you can't beat the price. I do notice that the Merino Style is labeled DK weight, but seems thicker than the Wool of the Andes which is labeled worsted. Weird. Also very excited about my order from Two Swans which really was just to replenish the Lorna's Laces sock yarn stash. I treated myself to two skeins of Iris Garden. Yum.

Sock yarn makes me feel rich. So do gingersnaps, good coffee and a tea tray in the afternoon. Sometimes the simple things really are the very best.

Merry Christmas, y'all. Hope it is a good one.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I used to think that as a Jewish person, I was safe from the Holiday Sweater. Apparently, this last defense has been breached.

Instead of a War on Christmas, how about we wage a War On Scary instead? Hmmm?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I am happy to report that as of now, the puppy is OK. Just want to put it out there, that if you've got dogs, put the holiday goodies up high where they can't get to them. If you've got VERY BAD DOGS (like mine) who will climb up to that high place where they can't get them (like mine did) and GET THEM, then put them in cupboards or seal them in containers and make it even harder. If your dog gets around that, then you probably own a Basenji and need velcro on the cupboards, but I digress.

Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of a whippet/russell cross when she is determined to get to the holiday snackage. Maybe not a hot idea to leave her alone in the house till after the holidays go away.

Other lesson (re)learned: A margarita will take the sting out of most situations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Holiday Truism #146

The cost of one bag of sugar free peanut brittle and one gourmet fancy European chocolate bar is raised exponentially when one has to take puppy to the vet to have the peanut brittle, gourmet fancy chocolate and half a christmas ornament forcibly removed.

Like, maybe cubed. About one hundred and fifty bucks, anyway. SO you'd think, right, that this would cover the whole process but no. This entitles you to a cursory exam, the vet giving you a lecture about puppies, chocolate and peanut brittle, the dog gets a sub-q shot and they send you home, telling you that it will "last for about an hour."

There IS no way to rate the exponential value of the fun one can have after the medicine kicks in and puppy starts going off at both ends, but there is a lot of fun to be had while chasing after puppy with a bottle of nature's miracle and a roll of paper towels.

So maybe you get clever and try to confine the puppy in the kitchen not wanting to hog ALL the fun, maybe you think you could just confine the fun to the kitchen. Except then puppy is totally FREAKED OUT because it doesn't like to be tied up, so when you try to confine it in the kitchen (hello linoleum) on lead, maybe the puppy responds by yanking the lead so hard it knocks the kitchen chair over that the lead was tied to and then puppy takes off like all hell was after it, with the leash bouncing behind, dragging the chair and then puppy runs under the Christmas tree and starts around it while still dragging leash, chair and now the kitchen rug, that is even. more. fun.

If you also factor in the fact that puppy is still going off at both ends while this is happening, only even more violently because fear does that, and meanwhile the Christmas tree is now being pulled over because the leash has caught on one of the screws on the base and puppy is FREAKING OUT and ornaments are falling off everywhere and the children are NOT HELPING but are instead, falling over laughing so hard they're about to start going off at both ends?

That is when you go pour yourself a drink.
HA! I made it to the Awful. I think some of the boxes might get there for Boxing Day, but that's ok. I no longer suck quite so bad.

A few Holiday Truisms:

1. The mall parking lot will be hell on December 21st. The interior of the mall itself will be worse.
2. Old Navy will make the parking lot look like heaven.
3. When trying on Old Navy cargo pants, always remember that your arse is not going to fit into the pants that are ostensibly your "size" and you will have to size up 2-3 levels. At which point, you'll get so depressed you won't want to buy them so don't even bother.
4. Lane Bryant has raised their prices. You can't afford that cabled, wool/angora blend hoodie for $70, so don't even go flip the tag over and lo.... I said don't.... er... I... see, you NEVER LISTEN TO ME. You can't afford it.
5. You will not make it any farther than Lane Bryant because once you round that corner and the full impact of "MALL" hits you, you will do what you always do and get the heck outta Dodge.
6. No matter how dog proof you think things are, the puppy will find a way to dismember a few ornaments, eat an entire chocolate bar and a bag of sugar free peanut brittle and then throw up on the sofa.
7. When you cast off that sock you've been rushing to finish, you will realize it is a FULL INCH shorter than the matching sock because you didn't compare them before turning the heel. Because you are lame. LAME KNITTER.
8. Holiday elves are not going to clean the house for you. Give up all hope, ye who enter here.
It is the shortest day, four days pre Christmachanunkwanzamass and who has not gone to the post awful yet? I haven't gone to the post awful yet. I suck.

It occurred to me the other day, I grew up several hours drive from all my larger family. An entire day's drive, actually, so visits were rare. Now, when the inlaws express a desire to spend more time together I do feel as if they are from space. That just isn't what families DO in my experience. I saw my grandparents ONCE at winter holiday and then for a few weeks every summer. I see my dad ONCE a year. I see my mom maybe twice. Such isolation from extended family is normal, except of course, down here it isn't and they're only 20 minutes away and don't understand why we don't come around more. For me, I think "well we saw you at Thanksgiving and we saw you in September and we saw you before that in the summer and how much more do you want of us?" and they are thinking "Geez, we sure would like to see you guys more often." so there is a fundamental disconnect. Throw in all the stuff we haven't got in common and it is a hard one to rectify comfortably. For example, I don't remember my family EVER discussing religion (I think it would have been considered rude to do so) but it is a central theme for my inlaws. I think the number of things my family didn't talk about out of a desire to be polite probably outnumbers the cans of worms they did open. So I get itchy when those topics are broached and feel as if I cannot really politely say how I think (cos it's usually at odds with the popular theory) and would rather just skip the whole thing entirely. I always feel like I'm blundering through a minefield, crushing the eggshells with my combat boots and pissing off the whole family with my lack of tact. Not liking how this feels, I try to minimize the exposure.

And maybe, like the dh has suggested once or twice, I just tend to hermit way too much anyway. Maybe that's partially true. I often keep people at arm's length, which is perhaps why the internet is such a stellar mode of communication for me. Even the telephone feels like a horrible intrusion some days.

Maybe I really do belong in a house on a hill with 80 cats and no outside contact except the grocery delivery guy.

I'd probably get a heck of a lot more knitting done, anyway.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I've decided that Ethiopian coffee is about my favorite single source coffee (as in, not a blend) and it's all because Moze, my most excellent SP6 sent me a whole pound of FT Ethiopian a while back. Yum.

I looked up chareidi today and now I have a sense of what it means. It's not just Orthodox or Modern Orthodox, it's UBER Orthodox. I've decided that rather than feeling like an idiot every time I go reading Jblogs and don't know the words, I am just going to look them up. After all, if one has the power of Google, one is silly not to use it. Some other words and phrases I am planning to look up for myself this week: tshuva, shidduch, guteh sho'oh, bizayon of Talmidei Chachomim, shadchonim, meshudochim, hishtadlus, bechirah (context makes me think this is kinda 'free will' but I'm not sure), ba'alos middos and yereyos shomayim, takanah, and gedolim. Obviously these are words gleaned from blog posts - I am following a debate, translating as I go and though the blogs are ostensibly in English, enough words and concepts are Hebrew that I'm having a hard time following/understanding. Context helps but I just think there's a ton of meaning I'm missing and even if I go looking for the words, I'm only getting part of it. Ok, so, after delving into all that in an effort to educate myself, I have to confess, I'm still confused, but I'm enjoying the journey.

I still don't know what I'm serving my inlaws for their holiday meal on Saturday. I have, however, decided that THERE WILL BE WINE. And it's gonna be OPEN. And I'm gonna be DRINKING IT. Let 'em have their sparkly fruit juice. It's all Z's fault. She started it, she and that demon drink, Riuniti Lambresco.

I have to confess that I keep looking at the kids and thinking, "Oh god, please, would one of you start throwing up or something so that I can get OUT of hosting this holiday meal? Please?" but thus far, they are not being obliging and keep flaunting their superior health at me. Woe.

Wine. And knowing that there're latkes, applesauce and gelt in my future.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Without spoiling the Narnia movie for anyone, I will just say that I think they did a brilliant job. It was exactly right. WETA proves that the LoTR trilogy was not just a 'one off' and has raised the bar permanently as far as I'm concerned, and Disney (while not forgiven for all the crap movies of the past) gets Points. I really want to figure out what kind of yarn they used for that red scarf Mr. Tumnus wore, and what pattern. Thus far, there is some case made for a mohair blend on large needles, quite possibly a K1, P1 rib.

This weekend's trip to Surfas garnered me a quarter pound of cheese laden with slivers of black truffle. OMG. Cheesegasm. Also a Vosge chocolate bar laden with red chilies, a pound of Monkey and Sons FT Ethiopian beans, and some really fabulous crackers for the cheese. I took a pass on the chocolate balsamic vinegar (no, really, I just wanted to drizzle it on the sampler guy and lick it off his forearms it was that good) but am regretting my decision and think I might have to go back and rectify things. Buying, I mean, not licking anyone. Because damn. Life is too short to waste and it is made so much better with good cheese, chocolate and other things. I basically had a migraine in a shopping basket when I was done.

Plan for the day, eat cheese, drink coffee, and turn the heel on that second Irving Park footie. I could be efficient, do some laundry and start felting the bag I made this weekend out of Noro remnants from my Pekoe bags too I suppose.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

my very best oldest friend ever is in town and so coming for a visit today. This is the person with whom I do not have to tell the actual jokes, just punchlines, because they are our jokes and it only takes the punchline to get us snorking. This is the person who used to know me better than anyone (vice versa of course) and with whom I survived innumberable Whacky Teenage Hijinks. When we used to get together, hilarity would ensue. I haven't seen her in about 10 years. I'm totally excited.

Is it so wrong that I'm sitting here thinking to myself, "hey, I wonder if she's turned into a knitter? If she were, I'd be morally obligated to take her on a yarn crawl." As it is, nevermind what I said about retail (don't shoot!) I've planned an extended visit to Surfas because I know that she's a serious cook. Plus, I need real vanilla and good chocolate for upcoming holiday baking.

I make socks. She makes snacks. This could be a renewal of a beautiful friendship.

Little Bit, who was in such dire straits earlier this week is now completely fine. At least, she insists she's completely fine. She looks completely fine. I have my doubts about whether or not she's 100% and am making her take it easy on the people food and rest a little more than she thinks she needs, but honestly, to look at this kid you'd never know she was in the ER earlier this week and giving us all grey hairs. They bounce back so fast and then you just look at them and think, "you little poop, I'm not quite recovered from it all and I wasn't even sick! How is it that you feel fine?" and then maybe you growl a little at them but secretly inside are just very thankful they're ok.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tis the season... fa la la la la la I hate malls...

There is some squealing happy love for the new Interweave Knits going on at my house, boy howdy is there ever. The Pearl Buck Swing Jacket by Kate Gilbert and Annie Modestitt's Bi-color Cables. I am SO making these, though substituting Knit Picks yarn if I can figure out which ones will work instead of Gems Opal. Am fairly sure the Merino Style will work instead of Jaeger Style on Pearl Buck, but I have to do some swatchy goodness. There's one or two other patterns I really like in this one, the cardigan by Teva Durham in particular is sitting in teh back of my brain and begging to be knitted.

Have taken advantage of a small holiday windfall to do juuuuust a leeetle yarn shopping. 3 gorgeous skeins of Koigu came home with me today from Wildfibers and will become socks. I picked 3 separate but closely complimentary colorways. Should be purty. Also replenished the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock stash. I am such a sucker for sock yarn. I am DYING to get some Trekking XXL but have not found any in my LYSs and will probably have to just bite the bullet and order online. And then I think that's it for yarn acquisition for a while, though I have been told by a certain boi that there may be a birthday yarn crawl in approximately 14 days and I have also been told that during this yarn crawl I can get WHATEVER I WANT (to a point) and to that I say.... BRING IT ON. Yo. Because if anything will take the sting out of turning 36? It'll be yarn.

Btw, wtf, omg? I am going to be 36 in FOURTEEN DAYS and I look kinda like my fourteen year old daughter around the chin area with the worst breakout evar and to this I say, phooey. Is there a point in my adult life where I will not have teenage skin? Just asking. Would like to know. Kthxbye.

WTF is it with catalogs? Ok, holiday season, I retract this stupid question. I got the new TeaSource catalog today and I am so pleased to see that they are carrying a lot of stuff from the Ambootia Estate which is very keen on organic, biodynamic tea production and which treats the estate families who work the farm very, very well. This is not certified fair trade tea but the workers who live and work on these plantations are paid at least fair trade wages and there is excellent support for their families, medical benefits, educational benefits, all that. Not to mention, they're not being poisoned with pesticides in their food and water. Yay TeaSource for supporting fairly traded teas and buying from plantations that treat their workers ethically. Seeing as how I am due to replenish the tea cupboard, I'll be choosing a few selections from Bill's catalog and voting with my dollars, all in favor, two lumps and a little milk please.

I am all done holiday shopping. Except, today I bought dreidels, three of them in a charming little box and discovered when I got it home that the little charming book that was supposed to be in there was gone. So YET AGAIN, for like, the umpteenth year in a row, we will have to call Poppa and ask him what the Hebrew letters are and what they mean and how the game is played because I am totally ADD and can never remember. Yes, I know, I could Google for this information, however, the call to Poppa is a yearly tradition (one that I tried to buck by getting a charming dreidel and book set, but FAILED) and I suppose we must carry through. If you see me in a mall or retail setting between now and the new year, please just shoot me, unless it's a yarn store in which case please do not shoot me, just assume it is my birthday and be appropriately celebratory.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gaian Mind

Take some urban kids with the power of their convictions and the willingness to work their asses off and you get something like this. My oldest has gotten hooked up with these folks and I gotta say, it gives me some hope for the future. In a big way, these kids are like the hippies of their generation only maybe better dressed ;-) and I like the music a little more. Let us hope they can be as world changing. I think they've been a tremendously great influence on her worldview and I am 100% supportive and enthusiastic about her commitment to spend time down there.

Video of what they're doing is here.

I'm thinking of things I'd have to offer them, skills I've learned that I could teach and ways that I could also learn *from* them. I've been thinking I could offer to teach them how to spin their own yarns to sell in their store or how to knit and recycle yarns to do that, if it's something they'd be interested in doing. I do feel like I want to support their efforts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Appendicitis Watch 2005 (kinda like Storm Watch on the news but no fancy graphics or intense music) is over! Sorta. Doctor has DX'ed the smunch with "mesenteric lymphadenopathy" which translates to "a bigass mofo viral infection of the gi tract which has pissed off the lymph nodes enough that it is now mimicking appendicitis and has kept you up for 3 days."

Because I must be severely sleep depped to have posted that picture of what was behind my desk for the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE.

anyway, we can go to sleep now, her gutty bits are unlikely to explode and that's good news. 7-10 days of restricted/limited diet, moderate activity and we'll be all good.

why yes, I am on my second cup of (Fair Trade) espresso this morning and still can barely keep my eyes open, thank you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

er sock
This is what a ball of Lorna's Laces, some dpns and 6 hours in the emergency room look like. I guess I'm a slow sock knitter but that's 6 hours of knitting all right. Keeping the youngest company while they ascertain whether or not she has appendicitis makes for some concentrated knitting time. As of right now, the diagnosis is "uncertain, could be an appy, could be a mofo virus so observe and come back later if there is no improvement in 12 hours or she gets much worse." In other words, we're not sure, the CT scan was not helpful, please to be using your Mom Senses. Because, yeah. Apparently they will tingle and I will magically know when to go back.

cams sock
This is my friend Cam's sock which is supposed to be a surprise but honestly, I'm NEVER GOING TO FINISH THIS SOCK because it is quite possibly the most recalcitrant sock evar. I've broken more #0 Brittanys on this sucker. Lesson here, knit on #1's.

disaster ii
This is what I was doing yesterday. I looked behind my computer desk. "My, self," I mused thoughtfully, "that is an awful lot of shit behind there. What a MESS. When did you last clean your desk and the surroundings? Oh. When we moved in. In 2001. Self, you belong on that TLC show, Clean Sweep." So I pulled the desk out and that's kinda what was left. It's all cleaned up now and filed, tidy as can be. I guess the cable tv people won't be coming anytime soon.

The kids approve anyway.
kids like it, anyway
Well, actually, So-chan approves. Em was more wrapped up in her sore tummy and the dog made no comment. Best one out of 3, I guess.

Back to Appendix Watch 2005.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I've maybe mentioned once or twice that I'm not quite right, right? And that this year in particular was particularly hellish in the not rightness department and what with one thing or another, it took almost 9 long months to resolve completely? Because, yeah, for the most part my Not Quite Rightness is just charming and funny. I have to drink coffee out of my blue mug with a moth or OMG the world might end. Things must be organized just so, the towels must be folded a certain way, and GOD FORBID someone sits in my knitting spot on the sofa because if they do I will get palpitations and maybe start glaring daggers and slamming cupboards and muttering in the kitchen UNTIL THEY MOVE. My ex girlfriend once referred to me as The OCD Fairy. She's a bitch? But she's right. This year... this year has not been so much with the charming and funny, it has been much more with the heartbreaking test of faith, of strength, of endurance. It has been *hard*. There were days where I wasn't sure I was going to survive.

Today I read something over at Pax Nortana and it really spoke to me. Some parts more than others. I wrote a bit up for my Livejournal (which is a much more personal journal than this here knitting blog, this being something that I show my actual parents and where we maybe skip much of the wangst that gets spewed elsewhere.) So I wasn't gonna post it here but then I thought, what the hell. The 'rents know I'm Not Quite Right. And what do I care? These thoughts are too good not to share.

So here is what Joel's definition of what being mentally ill looks like did for me....

For the record, I don't know that I define myself as mentally ill right now. I've found a med that works and as long as I eat adequately to balance my sugars, sleep enough and keep things fairly minimal in the stress dept., I'm stable and healthy, mentally speaking. I am doing well. I never forget, though, what that avalanche feels like. I never forget that balance is fragile. I never quite trust the feeling of well being and stability and I'm never sure if the sand under my feet is going to start shifting again without warning. I don't take it for granted. I just enjoy it in the right now I am healthy sense and leave it at that.

I learned a lot about compassion this year. What I think it is and what I think it is not. I do think it is something worthwhile, something to strive for. I learned about trust this year, what it can feel like to have your trust shattered because your illness is more than someone can deal with or because your faith in their strength was misplaced. People break. It isn't their fault. I also learned what it can feel like to have your trust and faith in someone confirmed, despite your illness. People can surprise you. It should be said that no matter how much those lessons sucked? I'm glad I had the Splendid Learning Opportunities that I was given. Though as an aside, I kinda think that I prefer my lessons without that side of Universal Whallop Upside The Haid. This is where the little voice says something along the lines of, "but without a whallop upside your head you never actually comprehend the lessons because you are lame." and that is when I start thinking maybe the little voice should just SHUT THE HELL UP bitch please.

Right then.

I learned that mental illness doesn't have to be who you are but that it will totally inform who you are. I learned that mental illness does not define me, but it sure as hell tints the glasses through which I define the world.

When I read Joel's words, I see myself in them and these days, I relate much more to the more positive things. Maybe next year I'll find G-d or see neon lights in autumn leaves. Maybe next year archangels will speak to me or I'll have to stay off ebay again. I hope not, but like I said, I don't take it for granted. I'm just here and things are cool. Maybe I'm not quite right, bless my heart, but I'm right enough right now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

no wind in the sails. knitting. doldrums. clear, glassy waters as far as the eye can see.

I am not sure if this is because pirates require angst and storms to fire up the old creative juices and there's just, a lack of that, or if this lapse of yarny inspiration is just normal for knitters. I suppose it's back to the drop spindle and the never ending BFL roving until some form of creative ship is sighted off the port bow. ho hum

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

If there's one thing I've learned in the last few days about Israeli politics and what is really going on in the Middle East? It's that I have a lot to learn. I look at our mess here in CA and in the larger US and think "jesus what a mess." but at least I know how we got there and my opinions about what's gone wrong are based in a fairly accurate understanding of how the US system works. Israel, not so much. There is much to be read.

SO let's see... chez Yarnpirate, we have a teenage boy essentially living with us for the forseeable and undefined future, due to issues at home. We are all adapting. I always said I wanted 3 kids, now I got 'em. He's a nice kid. I'm hoping things chill out around his homestead by the first of the year but I imagine we'll do what is needful for as long as it needs doing. Fully prepared to have him here through Christmannukahkwanzamas and into the new year. I have to note, being the parent of two girls who can really put away the chow... I thought I grokked the teenage appetite? Ha! It is positively amazing how much food a teenage boy can consume. Who knew?

Laptop, still fried. I'm getting webmail and borrowing the teenager's computer when I can but some of it is slipping past me so if I owe you email and you haven't heard from me, that's probably what happened. I am assured that at least the data is retrievable/backed up. We may need a new drive. It's still up in the air.

I'm casting on for Kiri tomorrow, with some "azul bonitas" laceweight from handpainted yarn dot com. Planning to bead the edging, the many, many miles of edging.... I suppose I should be worried about that new bead store that opened up across Venice Blvd. from my house. Between that and the new yarn store, there goes my allowance.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My SP6 hath revealed herself to me! Thank you Moze! for all the wonderful and thoughtful packages and goodies. You were so amazingly thoughtful and I've enjoyed being your pal! Your journal is fascinating and I'm having a good time reading back through the archives. I really liked the last reveal box - thanks ever so much for the LUSH avobath bomb! I lurves LUSH and this is my favorite scent!

You made my first SP a really special one. *SQUISH*

Sunday, December 04, 2005

This morning I drank TWO glasses of champagne and knit at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch. Then, they pulled my husband up on the stage to sing and then later "invited" him to bring his whole freaking family on up there (after the Gospel Conga Line Of Doom) and I had to put the knitting away.

I did not get any pictures of the sock being knit at the HoB, woe. Or the shiny gospel singers. Or another glass of champagne.

What amused me is that I knew all the words to all the songs and hey, big ole Jew here. That's kinda funny. I knew more of the songs than the husband and he was raised Lutheran! But it's such good music, how can you NOT get up and sing and clap and do that little hand wavey thing? In addition to the religious part of the program, I was very praising of the banana bread pudding with creme anglaise, for starters. And all that champagne. Also, peach cobbler, bacon and cheese grits were worth some praise. This is where the teenager points out that, yeah, I'm such a great Jew I ate bacon and then had a whopping serving of cheese grits. So it could be construed from this that, yeah, not so much with keeping kosher really. I have to work on that.

Then we went to some horse stables and signed Em up for a horsey thing. They did not have champagne or gospel singers or banana bread pudding with creme anglaise, which was sad. They did have a lot of horses, which made Em happy.

All in all, a good morning. Though I have informed said husbandly person that doing the Gospel Conga Line of Doom has waived all wifely "just go be social! mingle!" requirements I might have at office parties for at least another year. Maybe ten.
SP6 reveal!

How exciting. Okay well I actually don't know who *my* SP6 is yet because the reveal is in a package that is on the way, but I know who I've been a pal too and that's been the Jersey Knitter! and I've enjoyed reading your blog and getting to hear about life around exit 151. While your basement sounded prawn friendly earlier in the winter, I do hope things have dried out.

I can't wait to find out who my SP was. She was awesome, totally. I wear my string every day and it was really cool how that all synched up like that. Thank you for all the wonderful spoilage!

What fun this has all been!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

My husband is a fire spinning, glittered up, fur vest wearing, black light appreciating raver.

I like stompy boots, striped stockings and black outfits. I do have a pair of UV reactive yarn dreads, however, that is where I draw the line at black light stuff. I like glitter. I do. I'm a perkygoff, after all and we're required to like glitter. I could even get into the fire spinning thing if it were done while wearing latex, fishnet and to some Very Dramatic Music.

However. The point remains. He is Not Like Me. Not One Bit. He listens to Yma Sumac while I've got a yen for screaming German industrial, he wants to mambo around to Perez Perado when I'd rather mope and swoop around the dance floor wilting like a flower, he's about Jimmy Buffet and a margarita while I prefer Qntal and a glass of red wineokay, honestly, a margarita. But you get my point. Not. Like. Me. The man is, dare I say, I shudder... cheerful.

How have we made this marriage work for almost 11 long years, I sometimes ask myself.

I asked myself this last night when my husband picked up the glittery ball of Bernat Muppet Shit and asked me to knit him a "fluffy bear hat with ears" because it was sparkly and he thought it would be fun to wear raving or for fire spinning.

A fluffy bear hat with ears. Out of Bernat Disco. Way to offend my knitting and the goth sensibilities there, Raver Boy... ;-)

Thank GOD that shit is completely flammable. He looked so hopeful there I'd have capitulated and knit him one otherwise. Cos he may not be Like Me but he's cute and cute is dangerous.

Somehow, we get along.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I got my free Bernat Disco yarn today, it is brown and to quote a friend of mine, it looks like glittery Muppet shit. Or something. Bleah. It is being given to my daughter's best friend who I've taught to knit, who likes fun fur (she has interesting DIY fashion sense) and I trust she will do something suitable with it. That maybe doesn't involve snide comments and/or the dumpster. I don't know why I even bothered but I think the word "free" coupled with the word "yarn" got me in a weak place and I sold my soul (well, gave my mailing address) to the Devil Bernat for a little freebie.

The shawl continues to grow (we are currently on repeat 6 of 10) but honestly, I've been a little meh with the knitting. Weather shift (we are getting RAIN here!) is playing merry hob with my joints and I've been hobbling around like a little old lady for the last day and a half and every joint I have is aching. Loving my hot rice bag. My dog also loves the hot rice bag, which I tuck down at the foot of the bed for her at night. It's gotten to the point where she gets all happy when she sees me heat it up and immediately gets disgruntled if I don't make her a nest with it. If I sit on it myself, she actually sighs in disappointment and puts her nose between her paws and then she gives me the big sad eyes of doom. My dog is not spoiled, really. (this is where I just caught her eating an eraser. She's stupid but not spoiled. Not one bit.)

Is it really 23 days till Chanukah and Christmas and am I really making dinner for all my inlaws and have I not done any of my gift shopping? It is. I am. I haven't. Shoot me now.