Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kromski. Better than Prozac.

This is what I do when my blood pressure starts to rise.

enchanted knoll yarns

Funny how two batts can be spun up so differently, isn't it? Both of them are from Enchanted Knoll on Etsy.

hot mama singles

Trying to get these singles nice and even was not helping me relax. So I stopped trying.

black magic singles

Out came batt #2, Black Magic Woman, and turning it into a thick and thin novelty style yarn was a hell of a lot of fun, not to mention way more relaxing.

There's about 2 oz of fiber on each of these bobbins:

Two bobbins

500 LB Gorilla, ad nauseum

I haven't posted about the 500 lb gorilla a.k.a. the Culver City Unified School District a.k.a. SARB (well, technically, they are two gorillas, which means I am dealing with about 1,000 lbs of gorilla here) in a while.

There is gorilla poo everywhere.

My youngest, despite having medical revisions made to her IEP, despite bringing up her grades from F's (due to missed school, 2-3 days a week she's down right now, she's a smart kid but you can't pass if you aren't there) to C's across the board (and is trying to raise them higher), going to Saturday School, getting extra tutoring and in all ways trying to stay compliant with the district attendance office by bringing in a doctor's note for every. single. migraine. is still on the shit list with SARB (state attendance review board) and we have been referred to the next step of the SARB process, which is a meeting at the police station with various smaller gorillas, where they will decide if we are to be referred to the District Attorney for prosecution. I'm waiting on the date and time of this hearing. Apparently if we are referred on to the DA, it will be community service and a $250 fine every time she is marked absent/truant.

This has not raised my blood pressure at all. Well, much. Okay a little. And my cardio condition has returned with a vengeance, as has this massive sense of overwhelming anxiety, so my health is starting to suffer along with hers.

My oldest, having gone on a wonderful (we thought) "school approved" field trip to the Deep South for 10 days, has been marked "truant" for those dates. Because... *drumroll* the district approved the first trip on which all the other CCUSD students got to go. Since our girl had strep throat and was ordered not to fly by our family doctor, she had to make the trip up on a later date or we were out the $2,500 we'd paid for her to take the trip.

Seems obvious, right? Make the trip up, $2,500 well spent, everyone happy, one enriched child with a once in a lifetime educational experience.

So here is where this gets fun. The district will now not approve her make up trip as a "field trip" because it was out of state and she was not chaperoned by a CCUSD teacher and because we didn't get board approval before she went. We didn't know we needed to get it and since everyone was assuring us that this was an excused field trip for trip #1, it didn't occur to us or to the group putting on the trip that we would need special dispensation for her to make it up. Massive miscommunication? Yes. Massive clusterfuck? Absolutely. Our fault? Not really. Shit happens. I can't even communicate how stupid this is.

This? This, my friends, is the kind of bureaucratic b.s. that brought down the Roman Empire. Only instead of gladiators, we have America's Next Top Model. All we need are Visigoths and we're so there.

*head* meet *desk*

SO we've been referred to SARB for her "truancy" too.

*head* meet *desk* a little harder.

The good news is, her teachers (universally sane and rational beings) see the stupidity in this and are allowing her to make up the work she missed and are not grading her down for her unsanctioned foray to the Deep South. The school is going to allow her to go to Prom, even though technically her truancy makes her ineligible. So there's a little reason and milk of human kindness there, and a willingness to see beyond the snarl of bureaucratic idiocy.

I'm just done. Pasadena cannot happen fast enough. Two more months till we are out of this school district, and while SARB will follow us to the new district, we are going to be starting fresh and know the ways to avoid that particular gorilla in future.

Big damn gorillas are all het up. Oy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I can haz cottaj pls?

Oh hai, u can haz cottaj!

house

Our new house!

A New Spot For My Spinning Wheel

Today I drop off the deposit for a 3 bedroom cottage that the girls and I are going to be renting in the hills above Pasadena. There's a tiny scrap of yard for the dog, two rosebushes, and a redwood tree. We will have hardwood floors and a fireplace, plus a kitchen to make tea.

When I walked into the kitchen, there was a dish sitting on the counter that the old tenant had not yet packed.


It was my Grandma's china pattern, the "everyday dishes" she used until she replaced them with something involving pheasants that wasn't half so charming.

This, I believe, was a sign from G-d, the Universe, or something, and I knew the house was meant to be ours. So we asked for it. And the Universe (and, also, the landlord) said, "YES!" and I know in my heart that it was totally Grandma who made it happen. Because she would want us to have a charming cottage with a tree and a yard and floors and a mantel, as those things would fit her vision of what she always wanted for me.

Also? New landlord = total rock star. I mean, he's not a rock star, but, he's a really nice guy and I think I'll enjoy being his tenant.

There is so much squee and joy that I can barely contain myself. We move in June.

We are SO having a knitting day/spinning party in my new yard when I get all my stuff moved!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

There is this very odd feeling, after you experience something very sad or very intense, as if your regular life isn't quite fitting right. Very normal things really feel odd. I think that's been the weirdest part for me. I am kind of determinedly having a very normal morning. The youngest is off at Saturday School playing Breakfast Club, the oldest is off at a sleepover and I am having some tea and quiet time with the dog and the kittens.

It's been a lot of heavy and no knittin' on the blog the last few days and part of me feels like I ought to apologize, but I'm not gonna because, as I said to someone else a few weeks back - as a rule, people read these things because they are interested in the person writing them and that includes the very real stuff and not just the yarn. So it's been real.

And now there is some yarn.

Martha's Lady E

We really are at the "This is the Stole That Never Ends" point with Lady E. I've got 3.5 skeins to go, out of the original 10. That is some knitting accomplished there. Last night I pulled it out of the basket and put another two tiers in. The kittens, Tiki and I watched Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica while Mittens enthusiastically made biscuits on the part I wasn't knitting. I am going to have to wash this in Soak before I give it to the person I am making it for, he got one corner a little moist with kitten spit. I'm going to be focusing on this till it's done now. I have to finish it so that I can get started on....

baby surprise fixins

Kayla's Baby Surprise Jacket. Stopped in at A Mano Yarn Center yesterday to pay for my Stitch N Pitch tickets (they're almost gone, you should get yours!!!) and this Manos Stria leapt into my arms along with the Elizabeth Zimmerman book. Yes, it was post cat retail therapy. Something soft and pink and hopeful was just what I needed.

And there's been a little spinning off and on as the mood strikes me.

batt of joy

Took my new Kromski lace flyer for a test drive and this is what I'm getting. I think these singles may be a little underspun but we'll see when I get to plying them up. I've been struggling with the difference between "yarn" and "twine" but know that eventually I'll get it right.

This is spun up from some batts I got off Enchanted Knoll on Etsy. They are "Hot Mama Batts" and include alpaca, silk, cotswold and glitz. Also, some dog hairs and maybe cat hair, but we added that here, it wasn't part of the original batt. Really fantastic to spin up. Soft, fun, the colors are amazing.

And is there ever NOT a sock? No. There is always a sock. Another Charade, in STR lightweight RookY.

RookY CharAdE

Life goes on. It just does. You wake up and there is hot tea and a sleepy dog and the kid needs to go to school and maybe you have to work later, so you just get on with living it and take a deep breath when you need to. I think maybe that is the biggest thing I've learned as I get older. Life goes on. It doesn't stop. It doesn't slow down. If you blink, you will miss it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today we are going to the vet and our old boy Puff will take the long Cat Nap. Our Very Good Dog, Pekoe, will be waiting for him on the other side of the Bridge when he arrives.

The oldest asked me to pick her up at school early so she can be there, so I will. She will hold him while he goes to sleep for the last time, because he is her kitty, her first kitty and he has been her Good Companion since she was a little girl of two. This will be hard for her, but I think it'll also be good for her to understand the other side of having a pet. That this is the hard part and you're as obligated to do that for them as you are to provide food and water and pettins.

In our old neighborhood, he roamed around outside and he was a regular Six Dinner Sid. He had several families on our block. There was one neighbor, a single guy, who kept a bowl and cat snax for him and on weekends Puff would come over and stroll in and they'd watch movies together. He was that guy's part time kitty. He worked really hard to provide companionship to all those people. We didn't find out about this until he was shot in the back, with a BB gun, by some neighborhood kid. We put up reward posters asking for information about who'd done that to him. Suddenly we were deluged with phone calls from neighbors saying, "We don't know you, but we know your cat." and telling us how he'd come by for dinner or snacks or just pettins. And people dropped off bags of salmon treats at our house and he had more snacks to fuel his recovery than any cat should have.

Once he followed a neighbor to the movies, 5 blocks away. The neighbor missed the previews so he could bring him back. Once he showed up 3 blocks away, and followed a woman into her house at 6am on a Sunday morning, demanding breakfast. She called us to come get him. His hopes of being Seven Dinner Sid were thwarted that day. When we'd have garage sales, he'd sit on the lawn and people would stop just to pet the big fluffy tuxedo cat, and then they'd buy our stuff. He was 28 pounds at his heaviest. He had friends on his terms, not just because he was ours.

He did not kill me when I made him wear antlers at Christmas. Every year for 11 years. Antlers.

death? or death?

"Sure. Go ahead. Laugh while you can."


He's been a really good cat. I'm going to hang on to all this, these memories that make me laugh so hard at the Person he's been. Today we are going to say goodbye and let him go and that's going to be really hard, but it's going to be okay. He's had a really good run. 18 years.

We love you, Puff. You've been the very best kitty.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

She's not heavy, she's my knitter

At first I wasn't angry when I read this post. I thought, "dude, bad idea. Way to go with the stupid." The more I think about it the more it really bothers me. I dislike it when the space around me gets sexualized without my consent - ie, someone leading someone else around on a leash, in collar and cuffs, at Faire. Am I sex negative? No. I just don't want your peanut butter in my chocolate in a venue that peanut butter is not what I consented to. If I want peanut butter, I'll go to the peanut butter club and consent by walking in the door, mmkay? It wouldn't bug me at, say, Pride or the Folsom Faire while we're talking "public" either, because I am giving consent just by showing up and participating.

It bothers me that the writer seems to think that people "putting their assets on display" or "wearing skimpy costumes" are somehow implying consent to be approached or touched. And I'm sorry but that's just craaaaap.

If I wear a short skirt? It's not an invitation.

If I wear a low cut shirt? It's not an invitation.

If I wear anime cat ears and duct tape, it's NOT AN INVITATION.

I hate it when perfectly well meaning men say to me that they don't understand why women get all het up when they're cat called for wearing a short skirt. Here's why.

Because.

Because women are not objects put here for the delectation of others. Wearing a short skirt does not make them culpable for someone else's lack of respect for boundaries.

A friend of mine asked this question in response to the brouhaha about whether or not this Open Source Boobs Project was okay. "When was the last time you were afraid you were going to be raped?"

I don't sit around, obsessing about "Omg, I might be raped!" and it is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about, but the plain truth is, I have been sexually assaulted in my life. The sense of unsafety, of potential danger and of the possibility of it happening again is never NOT in my lizard brain.

This fear is why I walk with a fistful of keys clenched between my fingers when I walk through the dark parking lot after work. Why I will wait and get onto another elevator if there is a man who feels threatening getting onto the first elevator, as that would put me into a small space alone with him and I am afraid.

This is why I don't walk my dog after dark.

This is why I am afraid that my daughters might one day drink too much at a party and maybe go to lie down in a back room to sleep it off - because they might wake up to someone who thinks that "unconscious female" implies "consent to have sex."

It could happen. It has happened to other women.

It has happened to me.

I *hate* the idea of privilege. I hate that it exists. I hate it. I resist the idea and I don't know what to do with it or about it and it makes me feel powerless and frustrated that it is even there. So I don't throw it around in arguments or debates as a rule. Kind of like bringing the Nazis into an argument. Argument is automatically over when privilege comes into the discussion because you can't really argue with it. For all that, I gotta say that it's some kind of fucked up straight male privilege that makes an otherwise seemingly intelligent person think that a woman in a skimpy Princess outfit is somehow inviting him to walk up and ask if he can fondle her tits. That people "putting their assets on display" are somehow safe to assault.

"They can say no." he says. But the damage is already done when he asks the question. I do give him kudos, also, for actually editing his post and saying some of the things he's said in retrospect. I don't think that he meant any harm with the OSBP, but good intentions make great cobblestones. Damage done.

How many of the women at this con really weren't okay with it but felt pressured into participating or simply felt pressured to be silent about it while it was happening around them? How many of them really felt empowered by the experience? I wonder.

I like the idea of the Open Source Swift Kick In The Balls Project. Except not really, but, the way she writes is brilliant.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

G... is for the Grove.

meta grove

This is a mall. It's totally a planned out space that is supposed to mimic an old fashioned downtown or perhaps Main St. Disneyland, but really it is still a mall. They pipe old school jazz and show tunes out on speakers hidden in the planters, and there is a fountain that dances in time to the music. Don't you just think you'd like to walk around in this area with some Frank Sinatra playing, getting your retail on?

grove statues

The statuary is particularly graceful. I love this statue so much and every christmas they build Santa's Scary House Of Horror around it and you can't see it for about a month. I am always kind of sad about that.

I am also always a little nervous about the statues ever since I watched that Dr. Who episode in season 3 called Blink. I just wonder, you know?

I spend hours here several days a week, dealing with the public and wearing very conservative clothing that does nothing for my complexion.

clock base

I spend a lot of time looking at this because there's a clock just above it that slowly ticks down the minutes until I can clock out and leave. Yay clock! I love your slow and inexorable ticking towards my freedom! Tick faster, ok?!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The most excellent Stick and Stone has gone out of business. This means there is no store in the LA area that is solely dedicated to things like spinning and weaving and specifically non-knitting fiber arts. Which isn't to say they didn't have knitting stuff too? Just, they were mostly on the spinning side.

I'm sad. The natural barrier of "going over The Hill" into the Valley kind of precluded frequent visits. I wish I had supported them more, spent more money and been a more active part of their community. It's important to show up for the little brick and mortar guys and I think the internet makes it easy to forget to do that.

Sticks and Stones sale

I supported their going out of business sale, at least. Everything in the store was 30-40% off. I'm reliably informed that the new lace flyer for the Kromski will spin like the wind. Can't wait to try her out.

This is what I look like without makeup. Totally sleep deprived. Exhausted. That's ok. You all love the real me, right? You don't need eyeliner.

God I need eyeliner

The POINT is, my hair is looking fabulous and it shines purple in the sunlight because the Hair God just did his magic again. I haven't gone to my Hair God since before J moved out, and today I just thought ya know, screw it, I need some pampering. So I have a fresh coat of paint, lost about 6-7 inches of length (and it feels like about ten pounds lighter, holy cow) and had a blowout. Swingy fabulosity, just in time for summer! My forehead, fingertips and ears are also dyed a fabulous shade of violet but that'll wash off in a day or two. While I was there, I got a free neck massage and a hand massage and I feel kind of fantastic.

I will forever be completely faithful to My Hair God. I will light joss in front of his picture, I will scatter rose petals before his feet as he walks. There is no other Hair God but My Hair God. Bigoudi Salon, y'all. Ask for Chris. He's so worth it.

It so totally makes up for waking up this morning and discovering that the kittens had shredded open a bag of South African mohair, and spent the night rolling in it and playing with it all over the bedroom floor. Somehow, even though it was happening less than 4 feet from my bed, I slept through the whole entire thing. Sadly I did not capture it on camera. I wish I had. The whole thing was rather spectacular.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pillars Of Atlantis... DONE!

These really were a joy to knit and a very simple, yet clever, pattern. I love the way the ribbing flows into the cables that flow into the smooth pillars that extend down the feet.

pillars ribbing

I love the way the cables hug the heel.

pillars heel

I love this yarn, the colorway, the soft feel, suddenly all the raving about Fleece Artist yarns begins to really make sense. It totally is that awesome.

pillars extended

I had the rather distressing sock epiphany that I knit these on needles that were really not quite right for the yarn. It gave me this wonderful squooshy soft fabric that is juuust a titch looser than socks ought to be. I'm noticing the same problem with my Tempted Pin Up Girl socks. I knit both on #2's. For durability, next time, I think I'll try #1.5's and see if that makes them feel more durable. Tempted's base yarn is very similar to the Fleece Artist 2/6 merino yarn I used for these (in gauge and also in fabulosity.) So, mental note, go down half a needle size the next time I use either yarn. These are soft merino 2 ply sock yarns, they want to be knit a little tighter for maximum sturdiness.

Looks like these and also the red Tempted socks are going to be worn mainly around the house and not see a lot of heavy outside action. But that's ok. I need something cuddly and gorgeous to wear with my pajamas anyway.

Two feet

Apparently the teenager's luggage is still wandering around the Deep South without a chaperone. I do hope it doesn't get in to any trouble.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What To Do or Not To Do In Airport Terminals.

1. When sending your teenager off on a cross country flight alone, DO get a pass so you can accompany her through Security and to her gate. She will want you to buy her things on the way. She will also want you to point things out like, "Why don't you take all your metal off now while we're far back in line, so when we get to the head of the line we won't be That Guy and hold everyone up." and "Make sure you have your ID with your boarding pass so you can get through the checkpoint quickly and easily." and stuff like that. She will want you to do these things so that she can eye-roll dramatically at you.

2. DO NOT burst into tears after you hug her goodbye, and rush up to the gate agent and say, loudly, so that EVERYONE in the line can hear you, "Are you SURE this is flight number XXX going to $destination?" while ignoring the blinking, scrolling red LED sign that reads "FLIGHT XXX TO $DESTINATION" that is flashing over said gate agent's head.

This will cause your teenager to turn around from where she is standing in the boarding line, look horrified and say at the top of her lungs, "MOTHER. MO-THER. Oh my GOD. If it were the wrong flight, they'd tell me when they saw my boarding pass. JEEEEEZ."

Loudly.

While everyone in line is trying not to laugh. And the gate agent is failing, so actually, laughing.

3. Do not, then, sniffle and say, "Well. But. You're my BAAAABY. I have to make sure."

This is guaranteed to cause the teenager's eyes to bug out even larger than you ever thought they could bug, and she will moan, "MooOOOoOOm." and then practically run down the little gangway to her plane where she can be far away from you.

Secretly? She will actually love that you did this. Because it 1. makes her feel loved and 2. confirms her worldview that you are a world class dork and therefore she is cooler than you, in fact, this will confirm that somehow, she is cooler than everyone else on the plane.

I know this is all true.

I also know that Delta Airlines terminal at LAX is ridiculously crowded at 4am on a weekday morning and I know that Delta Airlines lost my child's luggage while the school group she was meeting temporarily lost my child. In a large metropolitan airport. 2/3 of the way across the country in the Deep South.

I think it's an auspicious beginning to a 10 day trek along the Civil Rights trail. Yep.

I'm just gonna sit here and knit on this sock. And wonder why I'm getting such tight gauge.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A friend of mine linked to this blog: Fresh Mouth today and I found it to be a really interesting read.

Decided to make a "Cauliflower Cheese" with the $5 cauliflower (and it broke down depressingly into not a lot of cauliflower, too) which is somewhat over the top and amazing. I've made it before and something similar to what I make was suggested by Ragnar in comments to my last post, so why not. The children were dubious about the idea at first, but I really like it. I based tonight's concoction off this recipe, but then totally changed everything about it. Because I am more about the guidelines than the rules.

Mixed berry cobbler for dessert. Om nom nom nom.

So the big news is that the kids and I are moving out of Casa De Slumlord ("Howl's Poison Castle" as one of my friends calls it) and over to Pasadena sometime late this spring or early this summer. We are leaving the Westside entirely behind us. I've lived within half a mile of my current apartment ever since I moved to Los Angeles in 1996 so Pasadena will be a little bit like another planet. It's an adventure I am really looking forward to. I'll miss my peeps on the Westside at A Mano quite a lot, but there are rather a lot of knitters and some yarny goodness happening in the San Gabriel Valley and it'll be fun to get to know some new faces too. Plus, that is what freeways are for. To go visit old friends.

Having abandoned Planet Goth for sparklier pastures, Space Lady So-chan is exploring the Technicolor Nebula Of Rave.

raver

this too shall pass.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I don't know what the problem is with these dratted Pillars Of Atlantis socks but I've had to rip out and reknit the heel on the second sock because *again* it was too small. the leg was about 1/2 an inch shorter than the other one. I'm not sure how I did that, I swear I measured. It seems to be much better now and long enough. Heel is turned and we are zooming along towards the toe.

Mostly I just wanted to say, I paid $5 for a cauliflower today.

Not an organic cauliflower.

Not a fancy cauliflower.

Not a cauliflower with the face of Jesus in it. It was not made by Prada or Coach. It is not stuffed with rubies.

Just, a regular, run of the mill, garden variety cauliflower from Ralph's. Which happened to cost $5 because food prices in Los Angeles are hello CRAZY! and also insane and slightly inflated and stupid.

I probably would not have bought said member of the vegetable family if I had done the math in the produce dept. but once I got it up to the register I was sort of stuck and didn't want to be That Guy.

Now I have to find something amazing to do with the damn thing (besides steaming) to feel like I got $5 worth of cauliflower.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sent the Martian Death Crap on it's merry finally (I love you, Azithromycin! Call me!) and am starting to get my house and life back under some semblance of control.

...dot...dot...dot...dot...

BWAHAHAHAHA.

Ok, no seriously. Trying to. During my enforced sojourn on the sofa, I realized that many things have spun out of my control and haven't been attended to. Things like finances and the apartment and the children and grooming the cats, my filing, expiration dates on canned goods, etc. You know, stuff like that. So I've started trying to retake a little bit of control over those areas of my life that were overwhelming.

I threw out a bunch of National Geographic magazines, went through my canned goods for expired crap, and organized my sock yarn into STR/not STR bins. Cleaned all the leftovers out of my refrigerator. Vacuumed up the drifts of cat hair on the living room rug. Began the arduous process of shaving one 18 year old Maine Coon who is a little too matted to groom.

I still can't find all my tax paperwork, the bedroom is a disaster and as yet, there are empty shampoo bottles cluttering up the bathroom windowsill. Still, I feel like I've made a good start in reclaiming my life.

Trying to get back in the habit of planning actual meals, as opposed to "open a bag of something frozen from TJ's/reheat/serve." Trying to cook those meals. Trying to shop for those planned meals. Trying to budget to shop for those meals. And btw? WTF is it with free range eggs being >$4 a dozen? IN WHAT UNIVERSE are eggs >$4 a dozen? It's not like there aren't enough eggs to go 'round. Hello, gas companies? Stop affecting my eggs. Kthxbye. Also please fuck off the rest of my grocery bill. Your high prices are driving my basic foodstuffs through the roof. While I am quite sure that the money I save by not buying takeout every day will more than cover those price increases? They're still riDONKULOUS.

Sometimes you wake up and realize you've drifted a little bit off center. That your plan isn't working because you stopped working at it. That you must once again cultivate mindfulness even though you'd rather be surfing Ravelry for sock patterns, catching up on Battlestar Galactica or reading the latest Livejournal spinning community drama.

This must be what being a grownup feels like.