Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Things I’m Trying to Figure Out

1) Managing the blog. It’s taken me months to finally put the buttons into place correctly in the Links sidebar. I am an html idiot. I admit this freely. The buttons are a big deal and worthy of horn-blowing.
2) Why some people can’t take a joke or are lacking in anything remotely resembling a sense of humor.
3) Why football time is so completely out of sync with real time. Am I the only one to notice that 15 minutes football time actually equals 1 hour in any time zone?
4) Why moebius is an endless fascination. (You probably shouldn’t hand me a balled up piece of tin foil either; it might have the same effect given the present state of my sanity.)
5) Why cats choose, specifically, to lie on important documents, piles of papers or knitting in progress (sometimes even while I’m knitting) and then saunter off in complete denial after marring, scattering or unraveling said items.
6) Why my daughter cut her own hair and tried to deny it. There was hair of varying lengths in a small pile by the umbrella stand. I didn’t even have to send out for a DNA test.
7) Why the middle son is going for the Guiness Book of World Record in wearing the same underwear for more than a week. The term ‘skid mark’ hardly describes the condition of said underwear after I’ve pried them from his possession. (Thank the Maker for shower nights! It’s my only chance.)
8) Why the term ‘Six-pack Abs’ is used to refer to those people who DON’T drink a six packs of beer often.
9) How long it’ll take for the appropriate people/institutions to own up to the tree that attacked our car shattering the tailgate windshield. I’m still driving around with plastic and duct tape. (Let’s not mention the 12” long screw that’s being used as an antenna. Some people and their football games! Jeez.)
10) Why children choose to get ill on a Saturday night when the doctor’s office has no promise of being open until 9:00 am Monday.
11) Why one of my cats is scratching himself raw at the scruff of his neck.
12) Why homeopathic indications are so bizarrely specific. Like: If there’s itching, along with oozing and there’s a zebra standing in your living room, use Pulsitilla 30x. If the zebra is in your bedroom, then use Nux Vomica 6x.
13) Why I don’t have sock yarn in my stash. Not even one skein. Tragic. Now I’ll have to get some.

Just a few thoughts scampering through my mind.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dinner for Two Results in Near Fatality

Dirk and I decided we’d give Tom a test run babysitting by using up a gift certificate to a local restaurant (name withheld to avoid charges of slander). On the way, we stopped in at the school to check in on Ian watching a basketball game with his buddies. Girls basketball? Honestly, he’ll do anything to hang out with the other amigos. Seeing that all was well, I convinced Dirk to cut the apron strings so we could get to dinner. I was starving and had visions of really good food cooked by someone else in my head. (The true climax occurs when another someone else comes and takes the dishes away ~ it’s really no wonder women adore dining out.)

We entered the local eatery with a $100 gift certificate figuring it should be quite sufficient for both of us to enjoy a decent meal. For a Friday night, the place was blessedly quiet, very few diners. This meant a lax dress code. A restaurant will be happy to take anyone with a gaping maw and clams in his wallet when it’s a dead night. So, Ugg’s and Earth Shoes be damned! We went full steam ahead to our table and settled in for a lovely dining experience by candle light.

And then we got the menu . . .

Suddenly, it didn’t look like $100 would by us a cup of Joe and a slice of pie. The cuts of steak alone ranged in prices from $40 to $60. And you paid extra for anything else. That is, if you wanted potatoes or vegetables available in a few culinary styles it would be an extra $6 to $10. I expect to pay extra for appetizers and soups, but yet another $5-$8 for sauces? Puh-leeez! I had to have at least two glasses of wine to recover from the sticker shock ~ I have no idea what that cost. The waitress did her Presentation of Beef where we were educated in cuts and special aging and just how wonderful their meat was. We were promised a culinary delight of grand proportions, Nirvana-like in flavor, straight from the halls of Valhalla, Beef of Bliss. We followed this bliss, as recommended by Joseph Campbell. Although, the presentation might have had more of an effect if the waitress delivered it as an aria with breast plate and horns, y’know, for ambience.

Noshing on our garlic toasted bread and white bean/tomato bruschetta, we waited for appetizers and then soups. In the meantime, the few people that were there left somewhat dazed with full abdominal cavities and empty coin-carrying cavities. Then along came a young couple who were seated in the corner (clearly childless and free from the burdens of daily living . . . you can tell because they came into the dining room from the B&B rooms upstairs holding hands and sitting real close to each other at the table. In fact, she was on his plate. Young love: it’s disgusting, really.) Enduring the saccharine activities going on in one corner of the dining room, we waited for our soups since the appetizer plates had been cleared. They never came. Instead we got our sizzling steak plates with T-bone and Filet Mignon, as presented earlier sans-aria, along with the plates of other things we ordered willy-nilly ~ asparagus, potatoes au gratin, smashed potatoes with horseradish (that’d be me) and sautéed mushrooms (that’d be me, too). Oh, and of course, the sauce which still wasn’t complementary no matter how many times you looked at the menu. We reminded the waitress we’d ordered soup. Oops! Well, did we still want them?

This was a pivotal moment; a moment that could have ensured a decent tip for the waitress. We were already up to ears in debt over the dinner at this point; we’d gone well beyond the $100 gift certificate by appetizers. (Damn those two glasses of wine!) What did we do? What we usually do, cast all caution and moderation to the wind. Yes, bring us our French Onion au Gratin and Lobster Bisque! We live in America, damn it! Land of the free and home of the over-indulged, we want our soup! She trotted back to the kitchen, yelling, “Jeff! We forgot two soups!” as she went through the swinging doors. We got soup. Desserts were on the house for their faux pas. I ended up not eating the soup. I wanted the free dessert. It was the only thing we didn’t have to pay for. (I was mildly concerned, upon entering the restroom, that I might need quarters for a toilet tissue dispenser. Luckily, that was free, too. I don’t know if was aged appropriately, like the beef though.)

After getting our doggie bags and the bill (a staggering $156, thank you) we left a meager tip and beat a hasty retreat to our clunky, shattered car. We enjoyed the after effects of over indulging ~ indigestion . . . all night . . . unrelenting . . .until dawn. I can imagine the coroner’s report: Two individuals, having dined at an uber-expensive steakhouse, succumbed to the ill effects of consuming large quantities of appropriately-aged beef, with various side dishes, sauces and soup at an extra cost in a comfortable setting. Cause of Death: Over Indulgence and a large bill. Desserts were on the house. If only they hadn’t insisted on the forgotten soup! They might have survived, might have walked away with a minor limp. It’s sad when people get like this, Joe. A damn shame, I tell you.

(Fedora plopped onto pate, trench coat secured with lapels snapped up, coroner exits stage right. Lights dim, a lone trumpet sounds ‘Taps.’)

You can thank the verbosity of this diatribe to one simple sad fact: the camera has finally met its maker (no, not Kodak), kicked the bucket, bought the farm, ceased to exist . . . in short (or not) it’s not working anymore, no way, no how. We’ve tried various resuscitative techniques (except mouth-to-lens ~ I take my CPR training for Brownies in a couple of weeks; I don’t feel qualified until then), but no luck. Services for the Kodak DC280 Zoom Digital Camera will be held through to the purchase of another similar camera (which won’t be any time soon). DC280 is survived by one 64mb memory chip and a battered blue camera case. He will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Well, Well, Well . . .

That’s what’s been going on up at the site the past two days. At end of day, yesterday, I heard we were at about 300 ft. Maybe that would be impressive for football or a sculpture or a swimming pool. It’s daunting if drilling for water. It’s a number you don’t want to hear in connection with getting the Code’s 5 gallons-per-minute quota. In fact, living near a lake, it downright ticks me off that we hadn’t met that quota sooner. But we’ll have running water and that’s, in Martha Stewart’s proverbial way, a good thing. Now . . . how to get it from the well to the house?

My mother was eager to hear when we’d be drilling the well. For the longest time I’d heard about the well-drilling that went on for-EVER at Red Top Dutchess Farm and Stables when my grandparents owned a house in Hopewell Junction. If I remember rightly, they had water for awhile until the sale went through and then they didn’t have it. So they had to drill a new well. According to my mother, it was taking a mighty long time for them to hit water at the farm. Long enough for the well-drilling guy to make his own coffee daily in the kitchen and become referred to as Uncle Philips instead of Mr. Philips. I don’t know how many feet they drilled and I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid – the depths of one’s well is one of them.

I don’t know the names of these guys and I don’t want to know them either. I wouldn’t want to jinx things. Here they are nonetheless . . .

And proof that there’s roof. See the little bitty bit of green peaking out on the gable? That’s real roof, not tar paper which has been the bane of Dirk’s life for nearly a year now as he’s battled the elements. (For past history and amusement, see The Tempest and Blue Socks in September archives.)

I’ve finished the bag. I just need to twist the cord for the closures and make an insert and I’m ready for the Playground. Photos to come later; I don’t know where the camera went. Probably to Puerto Vallarta.

The moebius is lying about somewhere waiting to be picked up.

Thought for the Day: Don’t burn your bridges ~ especially if it’s the only way back to where you came from.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Working through the Blocks

Okay. I after I set my Fair Isle project up for the shoot, I ran to get my camera and came back to this:

As one might discern, I’m nearly done with the second side of this bag. This project has been fun and I’m eager to do another one in the near future. Here’s the other side of Boba and the bag:

Clearly, he didn’t appreciate the disturbance especially after I set this out specifically for him to nap on. In about 16 hours, I might be able to knit again; according to SCNT (Standard Cat Nap Time).

I am still working the moebius. It’s on the back burner. Now that I’m comfortable with the rhythm of the pattern, I feel confident I can set it aside to finish the bag. Besides, I want to show the bag off at the Playground ~ my ulterior motive. I need some recognition, an esteem booster, like a shot of nicotine, like a Soap star fishing for admirers at the mall (I’m assuming you’ve seen Soap Dish).

What I have decided to bring to the Playground (on balmier knitting days) is one ball of some unidentifiable fiber from my grandmother’s stash and a book she bequeathed to me: Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans; Fishermen’s Sweaters from the British Isles by Gladys Thompson. I got this cool book (published by Dover 1971) and all her knitting needles with the special box that she kept them in. That box was (and still is) like a magic box for me. When Mom was gearing up for a project and choosing her needles, I’d run my fingers through the metal needles all jumbled together. It made matching needles a game. I found several pairs the same size, but bought at different times in her life. Some were flexible and plastic coated, most were metal, and so they click and clack musically ~ it makes for fine meditating. It’s amusing to look through the pages of this book and fine titles for patterns such as: Scottish Fleet Pattern I, Musselburgh or Filey Pattern II, Mr. G. Overy (I’m trying this one out just for the name alone). These patterns are like executing special moves on the jungle gym or making it all the way across on the monkey bars ~ they’re impressive. I hope I don’t fall flat on my face trying to impress the other knitters on the Playground . . . it’s another form of social suicide. Hey, I look at it this way, I don’t bungee jump; this is my bizarre thrill.

I did manage to show up at the easel last night to finish a piece. I need to start another, but that will happen soon enough. Maybe tonight.

I leave with a bit of poetry my grandmother wrote on one of many slips of paper found in the pages of the book:

I may not be around for you to see,
But you will always be a part of me.
And I’ll be always there for you to find
In all the hidden corners of your mind.

Mildly eerie, really.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where Have I Been?

I hardly know. The three-day weekend has been chaotic: crazy wind/snow storm, kids fending off boredom, people working on the roof at the construction site, a Brownie Leader/Co-leader meeting, birthday parties up a mountain. Now, I have to find tips on teaching a Brownie troop how to knit ~ just knit. Nothing fancy. I doubt they’ll be leaving with the ability to do Aran knitting. We’ll be lucky if we get identifiable geometric shapes.

The only car we have between us is now sporting a shattered rear window due to the afore-mentioned storm. A tree limb crashed down onto it. That’s about all I care to mention about it. I’m up to my knees in disgust over the situation.

What does one do when confronted with so much . . . nonsense?

Knit. Or at least try to.

And then there’s the festering guilt of not painting. It isn’t necessarily an artist’s block. I’ve got plenty of ideas. It’s sort of a studio block. In this tiny humble abode that we’re renting, there’s no room to just leave works in progress out. On some pieces, I need to live with them while I’m working on them (which would explain why all the yarn and needles as well as wheel and spindles are lying about). We need to have a rapport. We need to have conversations. We need to figure out what direction we’re going and what impact we’d like to have on the unsuspecting viewer. The Work In Progress and I develop a relationship over time until we decide we’re done, when another brush stroke, another addition would mar the Finished Piece. That means having it out and seeing it everyday. My kitchen is also my studio. I’ve propped things up on the counter and the working kitchen table so that we could talk over a cup of tea or while I’m making dinner. The hazards are great between flying food and the antics of cats, so it’s risky business having work lying about. If I don’t want tomato sauce and paw prints incorporated with a watercolor in progress, it’s best to stow it away until I can work on it. Then it’s out of sight out of mind . . . that doesn’t get a painting done. Made all the worse when one has made personal deadlines and commitments. The Guilt bubbles to the surface.

The fiber arts are easier. The basket is filled with yarn and a Work in Progress by the hearth. The spinning wheel has a spool of something going on and is sitting in my living room waiting for that night-time-TV-watching hour to spin. Spinning and knitting are less cerebral. Painting requires solitude and a meditative environment. Spinning and knitting are multi-tasking and social, as shown by the resurgence of fiber klatches, groups and guilds around the world. Knitting begs for a party with brie, if you please. Spinning and knitting might be perfect for AD/HD because one can handle a few projects at once. At present I have the Fair Isle bag, the moebius scarf (yes, still) and the spinning wheel with some mohair/wool blend going on it. And I’m thinking of breaking out the Turkish to spindle up some of the Welsh top I bought after seeing the otolaryngologist (thought I’d never use that word in a sentence again ~ I can’t wait for a good Scrabble game). It’s busy work I can enjoy to get me through to bed time with some sense of peace and sanity.
Painting is simply a whole other ball game. I haven’t been stepping up to the plate . . .

Well, as Scarlett O’hara said, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Twisted Sister

a) A nun of a secret religious order (with a hint of Buddhism).

b) One who has attained moebius.

Both definitions are obscure to the uninitiated.
This is my incorrect moebius.

This is my moebius correctly twisted. (Accompanied by the beginnings of xmas tree stripping. Dirk wanted the tree up for the football playoffs. He didn’t say anything about the ornaments.)

Now that I’m executing this project correctly, I can regain some semblance of sanity. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hand that special someone their moebius scarf before the spring thaw.

In the meantime, here are some varied and bizarre updates:

Aced the volcano project! I mean . . . Ian aced the volcano project. Not one mention of Mother’s help on the grade sheet, just outstanding marks. I feel fairly confident that I can do the 4th Grade again. Not the Math. The Math drives me around the bend ~ Everyday Math. Sure 2 + 2 = 4, but you have to go by way of Albuquerque to arrive at that summation. I’d excel at dioramas though.

You may recall my twisted little impulsive shopping spree on 4 chicks of indeterminate gender. (Shop Therapy Gone Wrong in the August archives.) Well, 3 out of 4 are indeed roosters. And the bizarre tragedy is that a hawk swooped down and whacked the only other hen we had. We still have Mabel. She’s on an egg-laying strike. Not that I blame her; she’s penned in with all these roosters. It has to be frazzling her nerves. I know an excess of testosterone in small spaces has me heading for the hills on occasion.

Thought for the Day: Eat your green vegetables. Sorry, it’s Sunday.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

In the Words of Gollum . . .

“Moebius is tricksy! It twists when we doesn’t want it and untwists when we wants it!” I suspect he was working with the same pattern ~ Fibertrends’ Lace Moebius Scarf. I doubt it’s any fault of the pattern, but more my inability to understand what the heck is going on. After plugging along, finally understanding (or groking, if from another planet) the nuances of the pattern design, to about 5 inches only to find that the twist I was certain would occur did not . . . Well, all I can say is that I was more than mildly disgruntled. With disgust, I cast the offending, non-twisted product off the needle and set it aside to let it think about what it’s done to my sanity and to consider what it might become now that it gave up the Sacred Twist that is Moebius. In the meantime, because I am determined to get this little project off the ground, I found another means of making moebius on the internet. The directions are confounding, but less so than the directions I bought (the pattern is still pretty though and worthy of executing even if started off differently).
That pattern can be found at http://www.planetshoup.com/easy/knit/scarfmb.shtml
Dare I mention the need to get more of that Rowan Kidsilk Haze?

Since I refuse to post any photos of the Moebius Malificarum (sp), here are a couple of shots about the abode (I’m not getting out much obviously).

First, here is a pic of the revamped altar sporting none other than Kwan Yin. After the holidays, I felt it necessary to regain some sense of compassion and caring. The spirit of the season tends to be cast aside when wrestling another harried parent for that last special toy on the shelf. I think I’ll need 5 more days of yoga to recover.

And, at last, captured on film (well, pixel), the illicit bathing affair that’s been going on between the cat and rabbit. Front page tabloid stuff, I tell you. Flower and Skittles ~ I hope this doesn’t harm anyone’s future political career.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Earth as My Altar

I’ve recently downloaded some fairly cool photos of the Earth from http://www.lunaroutpost.com/gallery/earth What with the renewed interest in recycling, reading Starhawk’s Earth Path and just trying to reconnect in general, I felt it was a fine personal statement having a photo of the Earth beaming at me from my altar (if I can ever get a chance to light a candle and sit there without snarling at family members) and smiling at me from my computer desktop. We take so much from the Earth ~ it feeds us, sustains us and we forget. Maybe recycling seems a futile effort, but I was nothing short of elated when the G-Men (sanitation workers) actually stopped at my house to clear out my recycling bin after nearly 12 years of not doing so. Why the cessation in recycling? I dunno, maybe it was bad attitude. Maybe I didn’t like where I was living to care. This is when it’s really important to remember that no matter where you are standing ~ in a lush field, at a beach, on a mountain, on a city sidewalk, in a beautiful home, in a slum ~ no matter where, you’re still standing on planet Earth. It’s home not just to you and me but a ba-zillion other life forms that all contribute to making Earth what it is. We aren’t just parasites feeding off an entity called Earth; we are a part of an ecosystem on a planet. We need to redefine the parameters of our contribution to life on Earth before we’re extinct and a cockroach is CEO of a major international corporation. (Although, if you think about it, he’d probably get a heck of a lot done since he has six legs.)

There are a couple of other interesting sites: http://www.care2.com/ and http://www.freecycle.org These are places where one can find better solutions to toxic cleaning products (I’m on a vinegar and baking soda kick, at present ~ the cats fear me, the rabbits recoil, the dust bunnies carry on as usual) and also to recycle our stuff which the 21st Century human has overburdened themselves with (I’m no exception ~ looking toward the as-yet-undetermined-but-inevitable Moving Day has me searching for a flame thrower on e-bay). Cockroaches don’t have these problems. They just need to avoid checking into the Roach Motels ~ small worry, really.

In some crazy way, taking care of a small piece of Earth, even if it’s just recycling and using less toxic stuff means taking care of one’s self as well.

In the meantime . . . I’ve been knitting this moebius scarf, pictured here with condiments and donuts (the kid’s lunch ~ don’t ask).

And a pattern seems to be emerging.

All knitted during various movies and The Vicar of Dibley (another favorite Brit-com). I’d like to be done with this so I can get back to the fast-paced and exciting world that is Fair Isle.

Cruel trick. The children are home from school one more day after winter vacation due to, get this ~ snow. Honestly!