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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Really, Really Scary Stuff
From the à propos of nothing department.

Forget goblins. Forget things that go "bump." Forget chainsaw-wielding madmen.

The scariest thing in the world can be a parent's voice saying your own name.

Try it: pull a memory of something you did when you were a dumb kid. Something that truly made your parent(s) mad, and for good reason. Now pull the memory of the parent(s) saying your name. Just your name. Maybe it was your full name. Some parents do a good line intoning "Firstname Middlename..." but they had to plan ahead for that one and give you one that works for that treatment. Some middle names just don't lend themselves to a stern, scary reprimand. Mine, for instance - it's hard to get anything menacing out of "Adelaide." You need more staccato consonants or spittle-spewing plosives to really get a good, scary bluster out of a middle name.

My dad did without my middle name when he was good and mad. He did just fine with my first name. He managed, when well and truly cheesed off at me, to infuse my name with all of the contempt and disgust he felt for me at that moment. The guttural monosyllable, spat out as if he wasn't just ashamed of being my dad, but of even knowing that I existed. Now that was scary.

"Jill!" Brrrr...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Let the Wild Ruckus Begin
In Montgomery County, Maryland, we have a few instances of what I call "suburban wildlife." These critters make me feel a little less like I am 18 miles from a major US city, and a little more like I'm home in the New Hampshire woods.*

This Sunday, as the dog and I were pottering about the cul-de-sac, I heard my favorite example of suburban wildlife letting loose a wild screeee in the trees. I don't have much of a zoom, but I was able to capture their early-morning meditations on droit du seigneur with reasonable clarity:

Treetop hawks, Sunday morning

Treetop hawks, Sunday morning

* Am I romanticizing? Yes. But there are still times when I feel a bit hemmed in by the sameness of the suburbs and yearn for the extremes. I've learned to love cities (I would get sensory overload in the urban scene as a youngster, but love dipping into New York, London, San Francisco, etc. now), but the country is truly what I love.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

So. I Hesitate to Call this a "Design"
So, I made this scarf, see?

It's a nice scarf - it's just what I wanted. It ought to be, I made it up. It's a bit skinny, perfect for doubling and looping through itself (my personal favorite way of deploying an oblong scarf). The yarn was a little special treat for myself, purchased on this year's annual NYC weekend with Mom, during a side trip to Purl.

Baby fern scarf

It's a basic baby fern lace pattern, edged with garter. It's simple. It's easy. Calling it "design" is silly. I swatched and fiddled and worked it out, did a few notations in the little notebook I keep in my knitting bag, and off I went. Then I took it to work and put a few rows on it at lunchtime and my colleague Anabel asked for it to be written up so she could knit it too.

So I wrote it up and e-mailed it to her.

Then we went on our "craft crawl" weekend and I wore it. We ran into knitter after knitter who liked it, and asked what pattern it was. "I made it up," I said. They seemed impressed. I felt both pleased and foolish. John declared me to be a "knitting rock star." (Thank FSM he's never met the Yarn Harlot. He wouldn't know what to think). My husband's bemused pride made me feel even more foolish. But people did like it.

So, I thought to myself, "Eh, I've already written it up for Anabel - why not stuff it on the blog?"

So, here it is as a pdf (with photos), and here it is as HTML (no photos).

Baby fern


Baby fern close-up

Friday, October 27, 2006

Speechless, Just Speechless
I've heard a brief precis of the mega-yarn-klepto stories, but this is the in-depth version.

Ummmm. Wow. Brings all new meaning to S.A.B.L.E.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Unchecked Catocracy
Sunday, October 22, 2006

La Breadchick, Columniste du Cuisine
My buddy Breadchick has decided to take pity on those of us who sometimes find "yeast beasts" (as she calls them) and other culinary issues baffling, and is open for business, answering your questions. Her initial "Ask Breadchick" column addressed my vexing biga issues.

Ask Breadchick, Oracle of Yeast!

What Does a Girl Who Travels Too Much for Work Do on the Weekends?
...Why roam about, of course.

Last weekend, we did the Countryside Artisans' Studio Tours again. Last time, I went with Yvonne, and since our interests are fairly similar, we ended up going to just a few of the studios (well, there was that and the pouring rain for the better part of the morning).

This time, John and I took Alicia and Guillermo. Alicia's a knitter, but she doesn't have the rabid gleam, and I was afraid of freaking out the boys, so the only yarn studio I insisted on was Dancing Leaf, since Dalis' colors make me drool. The lesson? The yarn is probably the best of the bunch, with a nod to some of the art and the refreshing (in more ways than one) newcomer to the group, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. Alden Farms, a treat in the spring, is pretty much a bust in the fall, unfortunately.

But photographs were taken:

The Yarn Dog at Dancing Leaf Farm

The "yarn dog" at Dancing Leaf was doing his part to keep the customers happy (I was good: I bought one big ball of roving - done up in delicious Dalis-y colors, and one batt of brown undyed roving that John picked up and noted that he'd be happy with something made out of it. First time he's done that, to my knowledge).

Colors at Dancing Leaf

Some of the wares, not to mention the view, at Dancing Leaf. The sheep were shy, so no photos of them.

We did make it to Kiparoo, where the sheep are not shy in the slightest.

Fall Sheep at Kiparoo

Sheep Pastorale

Yesterday, we idiotically did what we always do and went to Linden Vineyard on the day they run the fall Gold Cup, which happened to coincide with what those who don't have 20-odd New England autumns in their memory banks would call a peak leaf-peeping day. (No, we don't set out in the knowledge that it's Gold Cup day, we just hit the usual traffic snarl on Route 66 and say, "Hey, ya think it's Gold Cup day again?" All evidence to the contrary, we are generally intelligent people. Yeah.)

The view from Linden Vineyard

The view from the deck at Linden certainly helped to ease the pain of the traffic, though.

Another view from Linden

And the venison sausage was as good as I remembered.

And I did my best to channel Brian, in taking some macro shots (of which this was the best one):

Grape leaves

It's rather banal to say, but all in all, a very nice couple of days roaming about.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Long Stretches of Boredom Punctuated by Moments of Sheer Panic
Jury Duty.

Almost being called for a real, six-day jury trial when I have to go on a business trip in five days.


Small electrical fire in our furnace at six-thirty a.m. on a Saturday (outside temp: 23 degrees).

Waiting for the furnace guy.

...So, how's by you?

Monday, October 09, 2006

"True death means you live like you never did before. No baggage: second chances." or "Chances are, if your face looks like Visible Lizard Man, you're a dick."
I'm loving Jacob's recaps of Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica on Television Without Pity. He's got (for me) the right blend of litero-intellectual wankery and snarky spitballery.

It also helps that I really like watching these shows to begin with.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cavalcade of Annoyances
Just a few quickies:

- A new entry in the "airline personnel speak another language and it bears no resemblance to English" category: "Please return your seat backs to the full and upright position." 'Scuse me - I'm sorry. My seat back is empty. Empty and, I think, unfulfilled. What do I do now? Flowers? EST? Reiki? Group therapy? Do tell, Ms. Airline Employee.*

- Business vendors who call and leave 27-minute messages containing their entire sales pitch. Bonus badness points for not leaving your number until minute 26 and reducing your chances of ever receiving a return phone call from slender to nonexistent. Remember: nothing says "I don't give a crap about your product or service," like the voicemail delete button.

- The Cookie. The Cookie that dropped its evil, gooey, poop-resembling chocolate chip on my tan suit before a major meeting. The Cookie that the universe told me not to eat, The Cookie that the universe then nodded sagely about and said, "See? I told you not to eat the cookie."

- The fact that I am between sizes in the worst possible way and that everything in my wardrobe either looks too-tight and craptastic, or too big and craptacular. I blame The Cookie.

*I am often astonished at the fact that people clearly don't listen to what they themselves are saying. Many years ago I attended an all-company meeting where the CEO spoke about how everyone in the company had a role. He elaborated by fatuously noting examples like, "The receptionist's role is to answer the phone," (no - really?). He then clarified his role by saying that job was to overlook what everyone else did.

Actually, truer words were never spoken. I'm just pretty sure that wasn't at all what he meant.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Equal-Opportunity Offender
I post yarn pictures, Brian says, "Geez, what's up with the yarn?" I post cat pictures, and Marie considers I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel via the offense of catblogging. So hey - I'll be an equal-opportunity offender with this post. First, the cat:

Simon - Where's Ratty?

Simon is in the habit of wandering around the house with a small, soft object in his mouth, yowling in a muffled sort of way (since his mouth is full of the aforementioned soft object). He has always been fond of John's slippers, and when in extremis he has been known to steal hand towels from the washroom and leave them in flagrante in various places around the house. He also has a stuffed rat that he has been expending most of his energy on lately. Generally, as soon as he realizes he's being watched, he drops the soft object and looks like a teenager who's just been caught flinging away a lit cigarette.

Today, he waltzed into the den while I was sitting there and waltzed out with one of John's slippers, returning several moments later, yowling and unashamed. I was able to take several photos. Weird cat.

Second, the yarn:

Latest Yarn

(The dog feet are just a bonus). This is Carol's Black Bunny Fibers Columbia/Dorset in the "seagrass" colorway. Really interesting stuff to spin - very crimpy, but easy to draft and smooth-spinning. Apologies to Carol for the still-novice spinnning - I just couldn't help myself in the face of yummy color.

Just to really get Brian going, here's some extreme close-up:

Extreme yarn close-up