The numbered list approach to blogging

1. Thank you, Marilee, for being the first contributor to the Poplar Springs 5k fund! Her donation coincided with a particularly fortuitous afternoon’s snaps of the Smith household animals, so here’s a photographic “thank you” from those worthies:


    2. Thanks to: a.) the fact that my husband actually reads the Birchmere‘s occasional missives, b.) my friend Melanie’s quick response to a call to arms, and c.) my credit card, I can report that Mel, her sister and I are actually going to get to see Eddie Izzard.  (John’s not interested, but thanks for noticing he’s not included).  As my mom is fond of saying in reference to hot flashes, “Faint, but don’t fan: it’s a dead giveaway.”

    3. In other theatrical news, we’re going to see Teller’s Macbeth this weekend at the Folger Theatre.  I feel a bit ashamed to say that I have lived in the DC area for a total of over nine years and have never been to the Folger.  Cultural cretin – that’s me.

    4. Who thought of this daylight savings time palaver, anyway?  And who thinks it’s a good idea to extend it?  Clearly someone who doesn’t work for a living.  Feh.

    Ehrm… Stuff.

    Hi. I’m back. I was away for about a week (last post was dateline: San Francisco, even though I didn’t mention that).

    In my travels, I seem to have picked up a very small gremlin who is industriously smashing my sinuses with a brick.  Also, I got home last night – no, this morning – at about 1:30.  So, that’s fun.  I am home today, feeling achy and low.

    Possibly because I am achy and low, I am loving this, in that “Oh, how can I be cynical while there is still hope in the world like this?” sort of way. (Joss himself loves it too, so I am trusting that my sinus-bashing gremlin hasn’t taken a couple of whacks at whatever passes for the taste center in my brain as well).

    For my next unnatural act…

    …I shall hit a rather arbitrary yet significant milestone. The mile-ometer on my iPod says that I have run/walked 99.27 miles since getting the thing in late August (1st run on August 26, 2007). Dang, but I do love that little gadget. Data is good.

    So early in 2008, possibly the day after tomorrow, I shall have exceeded 100 miles.

    Oh, and Lance Armstrong told me I burned a “significant” amount of calories with today’s run. Considering his fitness level, I suspect sarcasm, but I’m trying to take it well.

    Happy New Year, all.

    Joss Whedon: Please Spend More Time in the Bathroom

    Because apparently, that’s the key to his return to television.

    Stitches Weekend Roundup

    Thursday evening: Milo gets his first fire in the fireplace. Fall is really here! (FINALLY.)

    First fire for Milo

    Friday: Wake up at six. Run around like an idiot. Drink coffee. Pack. Load car. On the road by just after eight. In Baltimore by ten (the first ten or so miles only took a half hour… I hate route 270).

    Sit for a few minutes congratulating myself that I got to Baltimore Penn Station in time to not make Daisy wait (I hate making people wait – especially when I am picking them up from something. There’s something really anxiety-producing for me about arriving somewhere and having nobody there to meet you – even if you’re sure, really sure they’re on their way. By the same token, I hate thinking that I’m inflicting that kind of agitation on someone else.

    Daisy arrived in good order, found me (“I’ll be the one waving like an idiot next to a grey Jetta”), and off we went. Being the good photographer I am, this is the only photograph of The Entire Weekend.

    Daisy - on our way to Stitches!

    (What can I say? I knew I was going to be hauling fiber – I didn’t feel like hauling a camera also.)

    We head over to the Convention Center (Daisy, by the way, either has a touching faith in my knowledge of Baltimore streets, or she’s a very good actress). Taking a deep breath, we plunge in to the hum of Stitches East. Despite the fact that it was Friday and the scrum really hadn’t started to form yet, Daisy had that look in her eye pretty early – you know the one: “Oh. My. God. Colortexturefiberpeoplestuffgoingon…” I noted Kaffe Fassett sitting at a signing (looking a bit dazed himself, poor man), and pointed out Brandon Mably as he whizzed past us. Daisy said, “Oh my god – I’m not even taking in the people.” I told her it was pretty much the same for me the year before. Learning to filter at Stitches takes some practice.

    Daisy however, was as game and cheerful a companion as a person could want at Stitches. We were well-matched in many respects: we liked to look at the same things (but gravitate towards different colors – I to my usual green, Daisy to her favorite purple. When you’re selecting a hunting partner for Stitches, it helps to have someone whose color preferences lie at opposite ends of the color wheel). We both hit the blood-sugar wall at the same time (this is key – one would hate to drag an unwilling party away from the fun; but by the same token, one would hate to have a companion growing ever grumpier and grumpier in hypoglycemia’s iron grip). She was resourceful and organized – when the people at the non-selling Malabrigo booth gave us mini-skein samples of laceweight to take away (the first hit is free…), she located an envelope and noted all the Malabrigo-selling booths so we could reconnoiter effectively.

    We both hit the wall reasonably early on that first day, and headed off to the hotel to spread our new loot over bedspreads and let our brains spin down a bit. Again, we were nicely matched. We were both tired from a long day, and Daisy had booked a suite hotel with a little kitchenette. I brought what I thought was soup (turned out to be curry – yum anyway) from our freezer and bread I had made the night before. A bottle of wine, some Malabrigo swatching and an episode of Doctor Who on my laptop made for a relaxing, geeky evening in. Daisy finished a Mr. Greenjeans sweater for wearing the next day.

    Saturday: Celebrity Extravaganza. Daisy, among her many talents, is a WordPress expert (and has been invaluable help in getting this blog over its initial technological bumps when I transitioned from iBlog), who helped Wendy (yep – that Wendy) when she transitioned her blog from Movable Type. Wendy had graciously invited both of us for breakfast, and after completely forgetting that the Baltimore marathon was being run yesterday (and having to ditch the car further from the waterfront than we had intended), we trekked over to her hotel and I was privy firsthand to the Wendy and L-B show. What a delightful pair. You know how some good friends are really exclusive and you feel like an eavesdropper or interloper when you’re around? Well, Wendy and L-B are absolutely not like that. They’re inclusive and funny and fun. I figured we would have breakfast and then all go our separate ways, but I was lucky to be wrong. We spent our entire day with them. Wendy and I had each other’s respective number in about five minutes, Wendy affirming that yes indeed – that 50%-off Debbie Bliss cashmere at WEBS was in fact green and the lights in the convention center were weird (we were right, Wendy – it’s sage-celery, even though it looked grey in the convention center light), and when Wendy plucked a ball of dark-green quiviut off a shelf and mused about another color to go with it, I handed her a ball of lighter green and suggested knitting them together to get an interesting depth of color (in terms of $/volume, I think that’s my enabling zenith – I believe I can retire now).

    Funniest moment? When Wendy from the Yarn Barn saw L-B’s badge and asked if she was “the” L-B as Wendyknits Wendy stood just to the left and behind her. I silently waved and pointed at Wendyknits Wendy until Yarn-Barn Wendy caught my eye, saw Wendyknits Wendy and her mouth flew open. We all agreed afterwards that L-B was officially the celebrity in the group, and Wendy was a vastly successful publicist.

    Most staggering moment? Meeting Eunny Jang and hearing her say to me, “I recognize you from Ravelry!” (Note: if you’re going to an event like Stitches and you wear your “Print o’ the Wave” stole, not only will complete strangers say nice things about your work, but you may get the chance to say, “I’m sorry – this is tacky, but I may never have the chance to do this again,” and hand it to Eunny herself. She was gracious, as one would expect. I only feel slightly foolish in retrospect.)

    It was over all too soon and I only got us slightly lost getting back to the car and up to the train station. Daisy made her train (which then promptly broke down outside of Philadelphia, getting her back to her family horrifically late, but we had so much fun I don’t think she has any regrets).

    Sunday: Stash cataloging, blogging, laundry, and wondering when I’m ever going to knit all the gorgeous stuff I have.

    Oh, no…

    Stephen Fry has a blog.

    Will any of us ever get anything done ever again? 

    Once Upon a Time…

    There was a wee forest creature named Gordon.  He was a Woodin, and he was lost.  Somehow, he had come out of the deep forest and landed on a porch in the suburbs.  He tried to adapt, but sitting in a potted geranium wasn’t the same as climbing the high forest oaks.

    Woodin rides the geranium

    Without another Woodin, he felt very alone.  Knowing that other Woodins are always attracted by a game, he thought he would cover his eyes and pretend that he was starting a round of Hide-and-Seek.

    Woodin playing hide and go seek

    “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…”

    But he didn’t hear the familiar sound of other Woodins scurrying for a hiding place.  He was still on his own.

    “Pssst!  In here!”  Gordon looked in the window of the house, and there was the furry orange face of a tabby kitten.  “When they open the door, scoot in!”

    Gordon was slightly wary, he had heard other Woodins discuss the dangerous animals that lived inside and outside of human dwellings.  But he was lonely, and the fuzzy face looked kind.  Taking advantage of an open door, he hurried inside and looked around for his new friend, who was sitting a few feet away, at the top of a sofa.

    “It’s okay,” said the kitten.  “I’m teething, but you don’t look very tasty.  I just thought you looked a bit lost out there and might want a cozy place to stay.”

    “Are you sure?” asked Gordon.  “I have heard that cats can be cruel.”

    “Well, that’s true of anyone,” said the orange tabby.  “But my name is Milo and you are welcome to stay with me until you can find your own people again.  I get fed lots of kibble and have plenty of toys, so I have no need to bite you.”

    And so, Gordon hopped on the sofa, and Milo curled his tail around him.

    Milo and the Woodin

    “Hey,” said Gordon, “Would you mind not sniffing me like that?  It makes me think you want me for dinner, no matter what your previous assurances were.”

    Milo and the Woodin

    “Sorry,” said Milo.  “I was just thinking you smelled like something familiar – you may want to meet my human mommy.  She may be able to help you find some friends.”

    …to be continued…

    A Fairy Tale

    Once upon a time there was a special princess, born on an autumn island, swirling with leaves of gold, amber, and ruby. Her parents, the king and queen, loved her very much (of course they did – this is that kind of story). They watched over the princess, as all parents do, but their royalty lent them charms to give her extra protection.

    The queen sent her tigers to patrol the island. Pad, pad, pad, around they went, leaving clear pawprints in the sand.

    The king stirred the water around the island, sending waves lapping to the edge of where the tigers stalked.

    The princess also had an aunt who loved her. The aunt knew that one day the princess would grow up and leave this protected island of autumn leaves, with its fierce tigers and rippling water. So the aunt knit her a magic shawl, stitching the special magics of the king and queen into the fabric. A drift of falling leaves was surrounded by the imprint of tiger feet and curling waves.

    This shawl would be able to follow the princess out into the wider world, bringing with it the special charms of the king and queen. And whenever the princess saw it, she would remember the sound of the rustling leaves, the padding of tiger feet, and the gentle rush of ocean water.

    Christening shawl

    Om Ganesha ya nama

    I’m big on rewards. I like having things to look forward to, to have the sense of earning something, to cap an accomplishment with something that I will savor. Sometimes the treat is unrelated to the accomplishment, but more often it is thematically related, and sometimes even symbolic. For instance, if I get through the end of August and am still running (so far, so good), I will bestow an iPod nano upon myself, complete with Nike thingamabobs to keep track of my continued running progress.

    Back in my unemployed days, I promised myself that I would buy a necklace from Satya when I found a job. As much as I live online, I envisioned going in to the shop and carefully selecting the necklace that would symbolize the resolution to the long quest that combined unrelenting tedium, abject terror, and bitter disappointment.

    In the long-delayed denouement to this quest (I’ve been employed for over two years now), I went to Greenwich Village this weekend and purchased this. I was especially keen on finding a Ganesha (for a whole slew of reasons, not the least of which that an image of him was my computer desktop for months during my job search), and I loved the approachability of this iteration, which is less iconic than the usual framed approach. The addition of the gemstone’s color and the lotus were gravy – I have my little elephant-headed god hanging below the hollow of my throat.

    A side-effect of carrying Ganesha around with me is that I’ve been thinking about obstacles – how they function, when they’re good, when they’re bad, and when you yourself can be the obstacle. Lianne has some good points about this today – to bend her metaphor to mine, what she carries or has carried has created her obstacles. To be perfectly obvious, it’s what we mean when we say we are getting in our own way. What can really be hard is knowing when we are the obstacles to our own goal.

    I don’t know how I am currently being my own obstacle. In some ways, I am getting things right: for instance, I am no longer in my own way when it comes to exercise. I am back on the right track with my yoga practice. But I know there are things I want to accomplish that I am not getting done. I can’t even see the beginning of the road to getting there, or what to lay aside to lighten my load.

    Do I need another reward? Some carrot to lure me onward towards my goal? Can the reward be the obstacle-remover itself?

    Breaking a Fast

    Two years ago was the last time we saw a movie in a movie theatre. We saw Serenity, the movie based on Joss Whedon’s short-lived television series, Firefly.

    In the intervening two years, we just haven’t felt the need to see a movie in a movie theatre. The big-screen experience just wasn’t that compelling, and the drawbacks (other people talking,* cell phones, sticky floors, uncomfortable seats, and lack of bathroom breaks) just seemed too great. It wasn’t so much that we had this militant stance against movies in a movie theatre – it was more that the movies themselves didn’t seem good enough to draw us out of our home-based routine.

    What broke us out of the rut? Stardust. We both love Neil Gaiman, we both love good fantasy and science fiction (well, for that matter, when it comes to movies, John likes really bad made-for-tv science fiction and horror too). I wanted especially to support this sort of movie on its opening weekend (yes, I know – going on Friday night was supposed to be the biggest help, but I was wiped. It was a long week with all sorts of worrying stuff going on: luckily, most if not all of which was resolved by Friday).

    So, after a nice sushi dinner at our favorite local (conveniently right across from the movie theatre), we sat in uncomfortable seats with our feet on a sticky floor and absolutely loved this movie. The effects were appropriately magical and marvelously inventive. The script made great use of the source material, without resorting to massive anvil-dropping to get thematic points across.

    Newspaper reviews have covered the cast’s superb work. Yes, Michelle Pfeiffer was wonderful: evil and vain and arrogant. Yes, DeNiro looked like he was having loads of fun (and we had loads of fun with him – others have said he goes a bit over the top with this one: I disagree). Yes, Charlie Cox was an absolute find for the lead role, maturing subtly and convincingly from callow youth to brave young hero. Claire Danes started out combining massive irritation with bemusement, a bit of fear, and more than a touch of bravado and gradually showed her softer side.

    But for John and me, some of the best bits were the little casting touches – Inspector Thomas Lynley is Tristran’s dad. Peter freaking O’Toole is the King of Stormhold. Other actors like Rupert Everett and Ricky Gervais have important parts, but they spend vanishingly small amounts of time on-screen (it doesn’t matter -they remain memorable. Their efforts are not wasted simply because they spend little time acting). Ian McKellen does the fairy tale voice-overs (melt).

    Over all, the movie is perfect escapism: fun and witty, adventurous and exciting, touching. Big thumbs-up from the “we never go to movies in the theatre” couple.

    *Heck – just other people. We can be curmudgeonly that way.