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Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh, Gawd - Yet Another Thing for My Daily Check-In
Ze Frank is funny so often. Does he have to be funny every day now? Geez...

The Happy Things Are Very Good Indeed.
Many thanks to all who listed happy things in the comments to the last post (and one e-mail from someone I had not heard from in quite a long time!). Somehow, hearing about other people's happy things is more effective to me than counting one's own blessings. Forgive me, for I am about to commit Metaphor: When Something Awful happens, it's like falling into a deep, smooth-sided hole. I have my own bag of things that make me happy, but they're already down there with me, and none of them are high enough to stand on to see out of the hole. Other people's happiness, big and small, slide down into the hole like a rope or ladder. Being extended from the outside world, they are anchored to the points I can't personally see (because I'm in this dumb hole made by grief).

Okay, so it's kind of a crappy metaphor. But I think you see where I'm going with this.

The point is, thank you, all. The comments really helped.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Big, Bad Week Chewed Me Up and Spat Me Out

The last week has been perfectly awful. I'm going to skate as close to my "no blogging about work" rule as I ever will by saying that someone I worked with has died, and the feeling of loss is both specific and immense.

One of my personal mantras is that "recovery is not linear." I said it a lot to my mom when my folks got divorced. I say it to myself now, when I go from coping reasonably well to wanting to crawl into a hole, curl up in a fuzzy ball, and bite anyone who dares bother me. I'm bouncing around the Kubler-Ross tennis court without a net,* but I don't know how else to be at the moment.

Tell me something happy, willya? Anything will do.

*Yes, that was a mixed metaphor, and no, I'm not apologizing.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Something Scarily Close to Politics
I once noted that Metro (unsurprisingly) did a dumb thing. Recent events reminded me of that particular post. The one does not necessarily follow the other, but it does seem to rise out of the same bubbling, festering vat of stupid.

Happy Tree Redux
Last year, I wrote about our happy trees. They hum and purr this time of year, and smell delicious. My neighbor informs me they are lindens. Anyway, this year I bring you photos.

Happy tree

Bee in the happy tree


Bee close-up

Friday, June 09, 2006

Repurposed Essay
I originally wrote the essay below for Cast-On, but haven't heard back from Brenda, and decided to share in my more usual written form with you all. Enjoy! Knit in Public!


June 10 is National Knit in Public Day. 

At least once a week I have my own Knit in Public Day.  I have one of those jobs that puts me on an airplane about that often.  You may have seen me in one of America’s jetliners or departure lounges.  I might be in one of several guises: on a day trip up to New York, I will be business-suited and freshly made-up (that would be my morning guise), or rumpled, exhausted, and still business-suited (evening).  Perhaps I’m on a redeye, homeward bound from the western part of the country, having hastily swapped my suit for a pair of jeans in an airport restroom.  In any situation, I probably look peeved because my legs are too long for airplane seats and I’m already getting kneecapped by the tray table in front of me.
Either way, you might be surprised to see me pull a skein of blue, self-striping sock yarn out of my boxy leather tote and set to work on a sock with a set of double-pointed needles.  Or perhaps the portable knitting du jour is a hat, destined for delivery on Christmas morning.  Little projects, designed for maximum portability and minimal pattern-reading.  This activity has saved me in more than one instance from resorting to a desperation purchase of a paperback I have no interest in from the woefully limited stock of an airport bookstore.
Since I have this habit of knitting in public, my first reaction to having a “day” for it was puzzlement.  Do we really need to Take Back the Knit? After all, the closest thing to a negative reaction I have ever gotten to this behavior was someone looking at my knitting needles and saying, “They let you bring those on a plane?”  Yes.  They let you bring pens on a plane too – and many of those are far pointier than my size 1 dpns.  I’ve been seated next to older ladies who are delighted that someone in their thirties is knitting.  I’ve had flight attendants ask if they could be the recipient of the product of my yarn-overs.  Friendly inquiries are common: “Wow.  That’s nice – is it a cuff, or a sock?”  “Pretty color – what is it going to be?”  “How long is it going to take to finish?”  (Before I reach Chairman’s Preferred, I hope).  I’ve even heard quiet murmurs behind me.  “Look – she’s knitting…”  the hushed tones seem to indicate that distracting me could spell disaster (they might be right).  There doesn’t seem to be any negative reaction keeping me from knitting right there in front of other people.
But when I thought past the smiles and nods, the interested but shy sidelong glances, and the eager questions and praise, I can probably count the number of fellow travelers in knitting I have seen in the US on one hand.  Up and down the East coast, through the prairies of the Midwest, and over to the Pacific Coast, in the last six months I can recollect a single, lonely scarf being constructed by a weary woman at the end of her vacation in the midst of the hustle of my home airport, Washington DC’s National.
I also realized I don’t often drag my knitting with me to other public places.  Sure, if I’m heading home from the yarn store via the sushi takeout place, I’ll sit at the bar and do a few rows while I wait for a few rolls.  When I turn out to sit on the grass beside a soccer pitch to support my husband’s recreational soccer league, the socks may be used as impromptu banners if our team gets a goal.  Projects get toted to friends’ houses for casual get-togethers.  But I’m not in that class of super-ubiquitous knitter.  The yarn… it… it sometimes stays home.  You could say I’m less a public knitter than an airplane knitter. 
I have to admit; Knit in Public day also brings up my conflicted feelings about “days” where we honor something.  Mothers, loved ones, knitting – it feels like we should honor these every day, and that having a day where they are singled out as institutions allows us to put the recognition on hold until its due date.
On the other hand, we can use these days less as milestones and more as reminders or a jump-start for behavior we would like to incorporate in our lives.  Getting Mom flowers on Mothers Day?  Perhaps the good feeling will encourage you to repeat this act on a random Tuesday.  Getting a Valentine’s Day card?  Maybe the emotional momentum of such a day can prompt you to spontaneously make your beloved a cup of tea on an evening just because.  Already a model citizen who does nice things for their loved ones at random intervals, the better to surprise and delight?  Then the day can be a celebration of a year of random acts of kindness.
Point being, the commemorative day is not the end.  It’s a peak which hopefully only stands among a continuum of other, perhaps smaller, peaks.
So, in this spirit, I have purchased a “Knit in Public DC” shirt from Franklin’s Sheep Shop, and should June 10 dawn bright and sunny, I shall don it and take myself off to a park or other outdoor public area.  If it’s gloomy or sweltering or rainy, I shall similarly take myself off to a café or coffee shop and cast on for a large, non-airplane project.  Something that is a bit of a change from my usual, small-project public knitting.  Something that reiterates Dolores’ bold presence on my shirt, and makes a definitive statement.  I am here.  I knit.  Come join me.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Suburban Wildlife
We get our share of Ma Nature's creatures even here in the shadow of DC. Foxes, raccoons, and of course, plenty of effing deer.

I just thought I might share the latest bit of suburban wildlife that flapped against the slider a couple of weeks ago. A Luna Moth - huge and luminous, attracted to the light from our living room.


I had never seen one before. I'm still sort of amazed.

Learning Curve
Yeah. So I've been knitting for a while. About 12 years, to think back on it. Some periods of hiatus, but never any serious "How the heck did I used to do this?" moments. So I wasn't quite prepared for relearning the skill, especially as I had been rather prolific of late.

What kicked my ass? Lace. "But you've just done lace!" I hear my five regular readers cry. Yes. But not with laceweight yarn. This is a different thing.

I decided to start slow and easy - the "Airy Scarf" in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. No variation in the actual lacey bits (just k2tog/yo), what could be simpler?

I cast on and frogged three times, I think. No lace at that point. Maybe three rows of garter stitch. Issue? Thread, people. Not yarn. Thread. For you non-knitters, imagine saying to yourself, "I cross the street every day - how different could wading through a river of chest-deep water be?" Yeah. Like that.

Despite being a woeful quitter at times, for some reason I persevered here. I also modified the pattern (yeah. I misread it. Yeah, I'm not sure it could be simpler. So what?). I have read that lace looks like "boiled ass" prior to blocking. With this, I can concur, even when the yarn itself is a soft and gauzy silk alpaca:

Ready for a bath

With hope, I plunged it into a bath of Eucalan:

Sorry little bit o' knitting

Whereupon it looked as pathetic as a kitten in a flea bath.

Its emergence from the bath was similarly pitiable:

Upon being stretched upon the blocking wires, crimes of gauge were discovered (not to mention, a heretofore-unheard-of tight cast-off edge). Like I said, it's as if I had just learned the skill.

Gauge crimes revealed

I also discovered that the blocking wire kit had it in for me.

Oh, trust me - I do.

Oh, I do. Trust me, I do.