Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Lion Weeps Tonight

I receive the Lion Brand e-newsletter and occasionally it contains a link to free patterns. After viewing today's missive, all I have to say is,


Just, …NO.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Warning: Sales Pitch Ahead


I hate putting this up here, but I have to in order to say I really did try.

My Ent'ship class put us into teams of four people two weeks ago and gave us an assignment: contribute $5 each and figure out a way to turn it into $200 by January 23rd. It had to be legal, ethical, and do-able. We were supposed to brainstorm ideas. That meant, no criticizing others' ideas. Just put them out there, write them all down and pick one. Assign a team leader and a team recorder.

Long painful story short, I find myself experiencing the same thing I've always encountered in group situations. I'm not heard. My ideas are dismissed. One person comes up with something that sounds "easy" and the rest of the group (except me) votes yes for it because they want to do as little as possible to get by (except me) and the person whose idea it is becomes leader by default—even if they aren't the best choice for leader.

One of the ideas I proposed was to hold a Knit-Athon on campus. I raised lots of evidence for its success and had a carefully-thought-out plan that I presented. But even though the other girl is a knitter, nobody was interested in it (the two guys looked blank).

Our team wound up printing up tickets for a raffle. The object: sell 80 tickets at $5.00 each (20 tickets per team member). Offer two $100 prizes. Hold the drawing after class. Pass out the prizes. We each get back $50 for our "hard work". Should be easy, right? That depends.

If your demographic/peer group is geared towards that, then yes. It's easy. If you are in a fraternity/sorority full of 18-22 year olds with easy access to Mom and Dad's disposable income, sure. Especially if you're out at the bars on the weekends selling to people who've had three too many.

But if you're me, and you're 40-mumble, and you just moved back to your old neighborhood full of senior citizens living on fixed incomes, you're living off your savings while waiting for probate to finish with the estate, and all your friends are single and working a crappy job or parents with young children who are struggling to pay for rent/mortgage/child-care/gas in order to get to work every week, $5 bucks becomes quite precious.

I brought up this concept at the meeting (minus the "parents are dead" aspect)—maybe the price should be lower. But it was shot down abruptly. They'll sell at $5, I was told. Besides, if we price them lower, then we'll have to sell more of them. This way, it's easier. (There's that word again—"easy". Never mind if it's doable or succesful, as long as it's easy.) It was a classic case of "I came up with the idea. You, shut up and do what I tell you to do. And don't raise a ruckus or rock the boat. Even if you might be right."

Well. I tried to tell them. They ignored me, and they failed to even come up with a backup plan in the event it wasn't working. So I have all 20 of my tickets in hand, unsold. The drawing is Tuesday. All my friends said "no way at $5.00—maybe at $1 or $2".

The sad thing is, there are people who've said "my friend took this class last semester and they didn't really do the project, they just said they did and brought in enough money to 'prove' it and the teacher didn't check or anything, so... if we want, we can just say we did it". I replied, "But that feels so wrong." Ooops. Sorry. Didn't mean to sound like a grown up or anything. Like, totally un-cool, dudes, on my part. Rad. Word to your Mother. Like, Dudes.

Honestly, I'm not being negative about the project. I'm being realistic. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that I'll still have 20 tickets on Tuesday. Please don't feel pressured. I'm not going to ask any of my readers to buy them. But if anyone has a wad of disposable cash and wants to, visit the Hundred Dollar Club on Facebook or send an email to hundreddollarclub AT yahoo DOT com. I'd be happy to sell someone a ticket.

Or not.

At this point, I'm disgusted with it. I'm glad this isn't the team for the rest of the class. The way I see it is, it's an experiment designed to teach us what not to do... wanna bet? So I'm not worried about whether it's a success or not. If it fails, fine. I hope if it does, that it serves to teach an important lesson (or two):
  1. Have a contingency plan (didn't we all study that in the prerequisite to this course? Were they sick that day?)
  2. LISTEN to your other team members. They may raise valid points.
  3. Choose the leader that is best suited for the JOB, not the one whose idea it was. In business, there are idea people and there are leaders. They are not necessarily the same person.
  4. If it seems "easy", it probably isn't.
  5. Not everyone is made of money or has Mommy and Daddy to foot the bill.
So. There's my sales pitch. Buy a ticket if you want. Or, don't, and help them learn this difficult lesson. Man, what irritates me is that I've become the person in the group I've always hated—the weak link. The one who fails to complete their mission. Ick. I didn't want to be that person. It just happened. It's a first for me. I'm usually the one that gets stuck doing all the work!

In other news, I had great fun Friday afternoon making a mess all over the Surface Design studio painting my fat quarters for Monday's assignment. A fat quarter is when you take a yard of fabric and divide it into four "squares". Some of my designs worked, a couple failed. But that's ok! It was fun anyway and I have enough for my assignment. I probably should take my camera with me and get pictures to post, eh?

There was a momentary possible horse crisis, but it resolved itself on its own and my horse is fine. (Somebody interpreted his roll in the mud and pawing and laying down as signs of colic; but that's just my poor bored studly gelding for ya. Plus the barn changed the hay suddenly to rich alfalfa, and that'll give any horse a stomachache. You can't change food suddenly. It has to be a gradual introduction or they can feel ill until they adjust.) Of course, it didn't resolve itself until I trekked out to the barn in 21 degrees of breezy weather to check on him. Brrr!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Cool Teacher!

Just a quickie: today in my Entrepreneurship class we had to bring in homemade IDs (mentioned in the last post). I did indeed knit mine. From my stash. It'll be a scarf when I'm through and I'll post a photo later, but I started a scarf, then crocheted a long chain and sort of attached the chain for the letters in my name. Then I tied a string around the ends of the knitting needle and wore it around my neck, still attached to the skeins (in the bag hiding in my backpack on the floor).

I was a bit surprised. Only me and one other person did anything original. Everyone else copped out and scrawled theirs on a piece of notebook paper. This is a course on Creativity and Innovation, people! Geez.

Anyway, the instructor loved it. Then she said the thing that makes her the Coolest Professor I've Had So Far. She mentioned a former student whom she said was "brilliant" but that you might not think she was listening because she'd sit in class and doodle all over her page the whole time. But it helped distract one side of her brain so the other side could concentrate better on the lessons. Then she said "if any of you have something you do that helps you listen better, as long as you're really listening, go ahead and do it. You can knit in class if it helps you focus."

I have permission to knit in class!!!!!

But, I'm one of those rabid note-takers, darn it! So I probably won't. But, it's just so cool that she said that. I thought to myself, how different would I have turned out… if my elementary school teachers had realized this very thing? That when I was seemingly daydreaming and off in another world drawing a notebook full of horse pictures, I was actually intently focused on listening and absorbing my lessons, not ignoring the teacher. Which is what I always got in trouble for doing. I was a straight-A student! How could they have thought I wasn't paying attention?

Anyway… the point of this whole post is,

I have permission to knit in class!!!!! How cool is that?!?


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

As Anticipated

It seems that I'm lagging behind in my posts. Well, school and all. Adjusting to the new (busy) schedule and keeping up with homework (already?!?) has me preoccupied.

In my Entrepreneurship class (Creativity & Innovation), we have to make a homemade ID for Thursday, something everyone in the class can see clearly from the semi-circle our chairs are in, and it can be anything we dream up. It can be wearable, or sit on the desk, or whatever.

You KNOW I plan to knit mine. ;-)

Now, since I'm lacking in content other than to say I am butt-tired and still have two chapters of Econ to read for tomorrow and a load of laundry to dry, I hereby post the requisite Cat Photo.

May I present, Samsarra's Indigo aka Sam aka Blue. The cat who doesn't know he's not supposed to be a Russian Blue.

Above: My Sammy Blue.
Below: A photo from Wikipedia of a pedigreed blue.

Gee. They look completely different. *snort*


And another pedigreed Russian:

I'd post more, but it's already getting redundant. Blue and Tyler (scroll down) are littermates. Their momcat Katie was a small stray white-with-grey-patches domestic cat owned by my former neighbor Harvey. Daddy was...? Obviously, Daddy, or Katie's Grandpappy was a Russian Blue. From birth, Blue has had all the characteristics of a true Russian, except a pedigree fourteen miles long. According to

The Russian Blue has a very distinct appearance and several unique identifiers. The easier identifiers are:
  • Green eyes (not yellow, blue, or orange but a dark bottle green)
    Check. (disposable camera, flash, taken at night. trust me. they are bottle green.)
  • Solid blue all over with just the tips of the guard hairs being silver and producing a shimmering effect. Domestic blue cats will lack this tipping and be a flat blue. There are no white or other color markings whatsoever, except for the occasional white locket on the throat (considered a disqualifiable fault)
  • A thick double coat. The first coat consists of the longer guard hairs. The second is the undercoat, which is very soft and gives the Russian Blue coat its unique feel. Looked at closely, these fine hairs appear wavy.
  • Mauve footpads. Most domestic blue cats have slate gray pads.
For additional characteristics such as body structure, profile, ear placement, please see the Russian Blue breed standards at:
The Cat Fanciers' Association Russian Blue Breed Standard's Description of the Russian Blue

But, Russian breeders all claim on their breed websites that this is "simply not possible *snif* because Russians are far too sheltered to ever be let outside to gallavant around with *ergk* mere commoners". Yep. They claim no Russian Blue stud has evah deigned to jump the fence.

Well, I've got living, yowling proof in my family room that says at least one of 'em got out.


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

On a Weaving Tangent

Well, maybe the New & Supposedly Improved No-Longer-In-Beta Blogger has a few bugs left in it, because I could have sworn I shared all four of these photos from PhotoBucket with this blog... yet, they were invisible. Let's try again.

First off, my apologies for being so, er, difficult in the last post. End of the week exhaustion coupled with frustration over the estate resolution process just got to me, I guess. I hope I haven't offended anyone for good. (Please come back... I promise to lighten up a bit!)

I've gotten some sleep and feel much better now. Perhaps I mentioned earlier that my local Weaver's Guild had a scarf exchange last week? It's on the loom and I've been weaving away. Here's what I have so far:

From the warp provided to me... the yarns I pulled FROM MY STASH thankyouverymuch for the weft...

…to a bit of the actual woven piece (from the fuschia/teal ball on the far right)…

…to a view from under the front showing the earlier part I wove.

Now. This warp gave me a few problems in the beginning. Or should I say, "provided opportunities for inventing creative solutions". *ahem* The kind lady who warped this forgot to tie off her cross into counted bundles of 10 (according to her EPI of 10 ends per inch). It's not necessary, but it's extremely helpful because it makes it easier to keep things in sequence when putting it on the loom. Non-weavers, don't worry about grasping that. It's too complex to explain without showing you. Take it on faith.

I fixed that by putting the warp on the warping board and tying off the crosses myself. Grumble. There was tangleage. Grumble. But I prevailed. Soon, I sleyed my reed. (Buffy the Reed Sleyer?) Then I moved on to threading the heddles. That's when I forgot to do something very important but minor and screwed myself up bigtime. I forgot to periodically check that I was threading the heddles in the right order and that nobody crossed over.


Somebody crossed over, AND some of them got out of sequence.


I didn't notice until I had the warp tied off on the back beam and was tying off on the front beam. Something didn't quite move right when I opened the shed (put my foot on a treadle to lift the associated harnesses and create an opening between two layers of warp, called the shed).

Untie half the warp from the front beam, pull it out of the reed, re-thread the affected heddles, re-sley the reed. Since I'm doing tabby rather than twill it's not as finicky a deal, but it was still a PITA. (Tabby is 1-2-1-2-1-2...; Twill is 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4...)

FINALLY got all situated and tied up. Checked everything. Looked fine. Loaded up the bobbins and started weaving.

It wasn't until I got through about two feet of it that I discovered I'd mis-threaded One. Measly. End. Instead of every other one raising up when I put my foot on that treadle, there's an area where two threads go up. Just two. In the middle. Two fucshia ones. That's what I get for trying to thread dark yarn at night in a poorly lit living room. Well, darn it, I was not about to undo two feet of weft, untie the front beam, unsley the reed (again), unthread the heddles (again) and fix it. I've decided that according to tradition, some folks purposely weave in an error to avoid competing with The Gods for Perfection. That's my imperfection.

I meant to do that. *ahem*

There is also an issue with the warp yarn itself. The black is a little more delicate than it looked. The whole warp is wool; the black ones break more easily under tension so I have to be a bit cautious. I'm holding my breath because I don't have any of it on hand should a warp thread break and I'm not sure what yarn the lady used. So cross your fingers I make it to the end sans breakage.

Troubles aside, I'm liking the way it's turning out. I raided my stash and found a schload of yarn containing the same colors as in the warp—except for the yellow. I have very little if any yellow in my stash. But that's ok. It just means the yellow stripes will stand out more. I'm using the Fibonacci system (my sequence is 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 but I keep skipping 2) and just sort of winging it. It works really well with weaving. I am, of course, writing down the sequence I've used in case I ever want to repeat it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Nerve

Warning: I am about to go off on a major tirade/rant. If you are offended by the F-bomb, you may wish to stop reading now. Because I'm dropping A LOT of them. Also, if you are in the construction business or legitimately flip houses for a living and pay fair prices, my apologies. I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to real estate vultures, the ones who pick the bones of the dead and prey on naivety and lack of knowledge to their own benefits. You know who you are. You probably don't read blogs like this anyway, because Knitters are NICE people and your type isn't nice.

OK... you can't say you weren't warned. I almost considered not posting this out of fear of offending someone or coming off as too harsh, but then, I resolved to be more authentic this year, and this is nothing if not authentic. I authentically feel exactly this way right this very minute.

If you're still with me, the topic is my Grandma's house in Southern Ohio, which passed to me and my sister through inheritance from my Mother. For years, my poor Mother received calls from several people pestering her about wanting to buy the house, which has gone downhill considerably over the years despite being rented out. The potential buyers made insultingly low offers, which my Mother turned down. I mean, insultingly low. All the calls start out the same, follow the same pattern, and end the same. Lowball City.

Since she died, and I've been living in their house with the same phone number, I've been the recipient of said calls. I changed the message on my machine and told them if you're callling about the House, call the real estate agent at 555-555-5555 (television fake number substituted here for the real number). Because I don't WANT to come home to a bunch of messages saying "please call me, I want to buy the house".


Just a few minutes ago, I received ANOTHER call from a Gusher ("oh I used to live on Blablah Road down here in Southern Ohio, just up the road from your house down here, I just loooooove the house, I've always wanted to live there, drove by it every day, yadda yadda yadda...) followed by a measly offer.

The phone rang. What possessed me to answer it rather than let the machine get it like I usually do is beyond me. I hear a woman ask if this is our residence. I reply in the affirmative. She launches into her spiel. She tells me her name, including her maiden name like that's gonna mean something to me. She SAID she'd "called the number on the message but the real estate agent said the house wasn't listed for sale". I'm thinking, Yeah. Exactly. So why the hell are you calling ME? What part of "call this other number" did you not understand? (It's been a long exhausting week, and this Knitter gets crabby on no sleep.)

I said "That's correct."

She gushed some more. I interjected with the appropriate uh-huhs and ok's and let her divulge. That's my practice. I learned it from my lawyer. Don't respond. Just stay silent and let them talk. Eventually they get around to telling you things they don't want to tell you if you wait long enough.

Hubby's in construction. Like I was a bit surprised to hear that. You and everyone else that's called about the house, lady. They fixed up the house they're living in right now. Good for you. How does this apply to me? I don't need replacement doors or windows if that's what you're offering.

She finally got around to the real reason for calling. They are interested in buying the house (of course). Could she make an offer?

I told her the house was still in probate and we weren't even certain we were going to sell the house at all, but she persisted so I said, "sure (whatever), go ahead..." thinking, this ought to be good.

She said, with a straight face, I'm assuming, "Well, it's in such bad shape... we'd be willing to go as high as $75,000."

I laughed in her face. Well, into the phone, anyway.

I said, "That's not even CLOSE to what we'd consider. It's not even close to the appraisal".

She said, "Well, but the appraisal cost was done for tax purposes and doesn't reflect the real value of the house."

I said, "Darn tootin'. And they appraised it much LOWER than the actual true value of the house BECAUSE it was for tax purposes and they intentionally go lower than the potential sales price to keep the estate taxes lower."


(OK, I didn't actually say "darn tootin'" but I felt like it.)

She said (kind of snottily), "But the house is in pretty bad shape. There is a huge crack in the foundation and—"

I said (equally snotty), "I'm aware of that. But the value is not in the house, it's in the land it's sitting on." (It did not occur to me at that moment that she'd been tromping around peering through the underbrush at the foundation. Tromping around. On MY property. Uninvited.)

She was silent for a moment. (Yeah. That's right. I'm not as think as you dumb I am, lady.)

She said, "Well what WAS the appraisal price?"

I said, "I believe all that information is publicly available", dripping ice now because the only place she could have gotten my number was from Public Records.

She was actually rude to me and said "well do you suppose we could get in there and look around and maybe raise it a bit?"

NO. You may not. Because we have no current plans to sell but we'll keep your number on file (round file) and WE will call YOU (in your dreams) IF and when we decide to pursue that route. (Besides, didn't I just tell you forget what the HOUSE looks like, it's the LAND you're after and we both know it?)

I ended the call pretty quickly after that. While I steamed, I realized I should have added, "AND, the next time you think it's OK to just go 'round and check out the condition of the foundation, why don't you read that clearly-posted NO TRESPASSING sign a little closer (or doesn't it apply to YOU, because you're special, because in your mind, you already own it?).

That's right.

YOU are TRESPASSING. On PRIVATE PROPERTY. You have NOT been given permission to set tire nor foot on MY PRIVATE PROPERTY, no matter how empty or run down you think it looks. It DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU.

Dear Overly-Interested Opportunists Parties:

My answering machine message CLEARLY STATES that all calls inquiring about the house MUST be directed to the real estate agent. I'm sorry if they didn't give you the answer you wanted to hear, but that doesn't mean I will either! In fact, YOU just cost yourself serious points. Anyone who persistently calls and pesters me about the house will be DECLINED if they make an offer. I am NOT willing to deal with you if you cannot respect my wishes, my PROPERTY and my golllld damned answering machine message because you think it'll get you an "in". Or a jump on it over the public.


The reason I want people to call Real Estate Agent is because I do NOT want to be BOTHERED by you people! I am NOT interested in fielding 20 phone calls a week from similarly-gushing individuals raving about the house. I HAVE A LIFE. I am IN SCHOOL. I do not have TIME to listen to your big fat line of bullshit. Because we both know that's all it is. BULL. SHIT. Every fucking one of you starts out the same. Rave, glorify, sentimentalize, gush, lurrrrrvvveeee. Followed by such a shame, bad condition, we realize it's a pile of timber but we loooooooooooooooooove it sooooooo much (poor, stway wittle house that just needs someone to wuv it again). Followed by an admission intended to warm me up and prove to me that YOU are different, YOU can take care of her the way she needs to be, because you and/or your hubby are "in construction" and "did all the work on the house we're living in now" and you actually have the gall to think I'm stupid enough to fall for that crap. You think I can't see through your thinly-veiled white lie about your real nature.

I know what you are.

YOU, my dear caller, are an OPPORTUNIST.

You are a vampire.

You are looking for a hapless victim off of which to feed.

What you really want, c'mon, just admit it (oh that's right, honesty is a foreign territory to you, my bad)—what you want to do is buy the house super duper cheap. Then, you'll either fix it up... or (more likely) tear it down and put up new construction. If you're a smart vampire, you'll also clear cut the field, divide it up, and sell IT off—with three new construction houses on it—houses that are less expensive for you to build than for most people because you are "in the biz" and get wholesale prices and can do the work y'selfs.

Then, you'll turn around and sell them, and turn your *cough choke gag snort* $75k investment *giggle* into dang near a million.

And what'll I get? $75,000, less closing costs. (Half, actually, split with the sister.)


Go bite someone else and leave me the fuck alone. If you really loved me the house, you'd pay whatever it took to have the privilege of owning it. No price would be too high. You wouldn't insult me AND the house by offering meager pennies, and you wouldn't blanche in outrage when I ask for at least the much-higher-and-only-that- low-for-tax-purposes appraisal cost, which we, as instructed by the Lawyer and the Probate Court's estate rules, must sell it for, minimum. You'd honor that, gracefully.

And the rest of you who think you'll beat 'em to the punch and be able to convince me to sell it to you before it's listed if you override my request and call me instead of the real estate agent?

Get. In. Line. I think it starts somewhere around Milwaukee.


Margaux at Tentenknits wrote a beautiful piece on Letter Writing on her blog today. In it, she describes the act of writing letters versus emails and the legacy they leave. I found it to be quite thought-provoking.

As I was reading, it dawned on me that had email been around in my Mother's and Grandmother's times, I would not have in my possession boxes upon boxes of wonderful old letters from them to each other, to me, to my sister, to my Dad, etc. Each letter is a treasure; a reminder of them, of the writer's personality, their quirks, their ideologies. Sometimes they provide unexpected comfort at a time when it is really needed. Other times, great insights are found, or important information from decades ago that proves relevant and helpful in the present.

I don't write nearly enough hand-written letters, either. I claim illegibility, though. My handwriting used to be quite nice, but years of typing and carpal tunnel have left me with such awful penmanship that sometimes I can't read my own notes.

Perhaps we should all take time out to write even a brief, well-crafted, carefully penned note to those we love, as Margaux has suggested. Let's leave future generations and those we leave behind a legacy like the ones left for us.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

School Daze

OMG. So tired. Long day today. Law, Econ, Surface Design, Weaving. Four classes.

Happy realization, though—I get the two "urgh" classes out of the way first, then I get to play with dyes and yarn the rest of the day. Much better to look forward to the last two classes than to sit there all day dreading the yucks. The yucks are overwith before I'm fully awake. (Actually the first two classes aren't all that bad, considering the subject matter is not my cup of tea.)

Weaver's Guild Meeting Tuesday night—I'm a new member, we had a potluck, it was nice, we had a scarf warp exchange. Fun. Each member warps yarn for a scarf, puts it in a plain bag, then we choose randomly. We take home the warp we get, put it on our loom, choose the weft yarns, and weave a scarf. Then we return it to the original person at a later meeting. The one I got has some interesting colors—maybe I can use some of my stash!

Bought more yarn. Not a lot. Two skeins of mohair in reds. Intended to blend with the red yarn for my attempt to do a Red Scarf Project scarf. Not sure it'll make it. I'm a bit late finding the charity. Anyway, I can justify that yarn by project, or I can use it in a school project.

OK. I'm dead tired. Must sleep. Just checking my bank balance and somehow wandered over to Bloglines (mistake). See you all later... *yaaawwwwwnnnnn* OH, excuse me.


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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Old College Try

It ain't what it used to be. Yes, it's 2:14 AM. Yes, I should be in bed. Yes, I have to get up early for a 10:30 class (with a half hour of circling the commuter lots for an empty space while playing Dodge-Em cars with the others doing the same, then giving up and heading for the prohibited Faculty-Staff lots* but still enduring a 15-minute walk in bitter cold winds** and barely arriving on time, out of breath and the only one in class who sounds like she needs a lung transplant). But I've been so busy the past 48 hours I needed a little down time, and when I need down time, I head for BlogLand.

Now that I've read up on what everyone else is doing, it's my turn to tell you what I've been doing. Except, details will have to wait***. I'm exhausted!

Monday: classes ALL day. Four of 'em. Law for Entrepreneurs; Intro to Economics; a two-hour break between, then Surface Design Techniques (painting/dying fabric); a one-hour break for dinner, then Weaving.

Tuesday: one class. Creativity & Innovation for the Entrepreneur. Fascinating class. Lots of work. Rest of the day free. Except I spent it digging through my still-packed belongings looking for my old supplies from when I took similar classes, then shopping for more supplies, then warping for a scarf exchange at the Weaver's Guild meeting, then making a casserole for the potluck at said meeting, then coming home and reading Economics, cleaning up the yarn messes, the kitchen, the cats...

Ack. I must sleep.

* Dad was a professor emeritus. Mom's car, which I inherited, still bears his shiny metal "I'm a professor emeritus therefore I can park anywhere I damn well please" tag. Is it a sin to benefit from the perks of a dead person even though I paid for my "I'm a lowly student who doesn't even live on campus therefore it's ok to expect me to park so far away from campus that it may have been quicker to walk from my house on the other side of town" tag fair and square? ...I think it's just fine for me to do that.

**What the hell happened to the 50-60 degree balmy spring-like temps we were having? The minute classes resumed, so did winter. *sigh*

***I guess I went ahead with the details after all.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

If Blondie™ Went on a Yarn Diet

Saw this in today's newspaper... it made me laugh and think of the Knit From Your Stash challenge. With apologies to the strip's creators, I took a minor liberty... click to view it bigger (it doesn't fit in the alloted space):

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In honor of my devotion to Showtime's phenomenal drama "The L Word", I've decided to host a Knit-A-Long for Season 4, taking my cue from the Knitting With Grey's Anatomy KAL. The object is to knit something pink during the season and jabber about the week's episodes. The KAL will end with the last episode.

I'm debating having a contest/give-away associated with it—Showtime offers some great L Word swag. What do you think about this issue? Are KALs more enticing when there is a firm deadline and prizes at the end? Or is it enough just sharing WIPs and FOs and having a place to commune with like-minded fans? Feel free to post your insights in the Comments section here.

For those interested in joining, the URL is:

No more typing for me today—I got a splinter in my index finger and it's throbbing something fierce. All my index-finger letters are being typed with my middle finger—not an easy task! Things are coming out like:

Tkis is a post de,onstratinmg how difficilt it is to tupe witj uoir imdex finmger oit of comm,ision.

See you tomorrow after a jealtjy dose of Neosporin and a good noght's sleep. (argj!)

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Another Resolution!

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Pick my nose at stop lights.

Get your resolution here.

I don't understand. I thought resolutions were supposed to be about doing something new, not repeating patterns... ;-)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Victory is MINE

The Plan:
Go to the LYS. Grab two balls of RYC Silk Wool DK for the Fetchings, #6 DPNs if the order was in, and find out how to fold my loom. If that one hank of Anne that I lusted after is still there, I can get it only because Anne is one-of-a-kind dye baths and it's sock yarn. Avoid direct eye contact with any other tempting yarns. Hold breath. Leave quickly. Get into car, drive away fast.

The Reality:
There was a hitch in the plan—a potential pitfall of grand proportions.

The Pitfall:
I arrived at 4:45 PM; the person who knew how to fold the loom was not due in until 5:45 PM—meaning, I had an entire hour to kill, or... a return trip at a later date (and exposure to temptation yet again). I almost panicked.

Then I remembered, hey, I have an entire readership of blogfans out there (all not-sure-how-many-of-you) lending me psychic moral support. "I can do this," I thought. "I can resist the Enemy."

How It Went Down:
First, I ambled slowly back to the sock yarn department. Mountain Colors called out to me by name. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Opal beckoning me provocatively. Rowan winked at me and reminded me of the 30% off sale. The entire Classic Elite Choir sang sweetly as I passed. I tucked my chin into my chest and pretended I didn't notice. Their cries of dismay and rejection haunt me still.

I caressed each skein of Anne as I searched for the coveted dark violet blend. Two errant hanks jumped into my hands, begging me to take them home (danged pound puppies)—one was an enticing blend of eggplant, wine and chocolate; the other was an earthy composite of brown, rust, and brick red. They were clingy little suckers in desperate need of attention; I humored them and let them sit in my hands as I continued my quest for the subtle dark violet blend.

At last, I found it, still on the bottom of the heap where I'd last left it—waiting... patiently waiting... just for me. Our reunion was interrupted by a saleslady. "Have you seen a pair of black reading glasses? Someone came in, and who knows where they could be..." I held tight to my Violet Anne and her two itinerant friends while I helped the saleslady hunt down the glasses, silently breathing a thank you for the moments of distraction from yarn that the pursuit of spectacles provided. (They were nowhere to be seen. No pun intended.)

The search abandoned, I turned my attention to placating the stray sock yarns and telling them why they couldn't come home with me this time. I assured them that certainly someone will come along and give them a good home—just be patient, and sit up nice and tall when a potential victim new Mommy walks by. As I was explaining this to them, my name was called out from the front room. The skeins and I walked quickly to the front of the shop. A saleslady had called the loom folding expert while I was petting the sock yarn and she was on the phone. My spirits lifted—was I saved? Would one phone call solve my problem and allow me to escape the LYS unscathed?

Several minutes were swallowed up by the conversation, which ended with the determination that the only way to illustrate the folding process was by demonstrating it in person. Therefore, I would have to wait for her arrival. Alas, not saved.

I returned the poor, neglected stray sock yarns to their homes. I gave them time to say goodbye to their Violet friend. We moved into the next room. I headed straight for the RYC bin and quickly located two balls of my project yarn.

I almost made it past the notions display, but the sock blockers, uh, blocked my path. Size small? Don't need. The others are probably medium like I have, right? Good. So anyw—oh, crap. They're large. Exactly what I need for the socks for She of the Enormous Feet. I sighed heavily in defeet defeat. They joined our merry little band, as did a package of jumbo stitch holders (the ones shaped like padlocks that I adore and had never seen that big before). On to the register, quickly now!

$81.18, in cash. Exact change.

And it was only 5:05 PM.

The store was empty save for me and two salesladies, who retreated to the classroom/knitting area after ringing up my sale. They invited me to sit with them while I waited for the loom folder. Whew! It was like a Safe House. No yarn to be found, except for the projects they were working on. I folded my arms securely (to prevent creeping yarn fondling) and focused intently on the conversation, which was largely about recent New Year's activities. Time flew. Suddenly, my saviour arrived. We went to the back room and I got a lesson in loom folding. (It's easy, but they really do need to provide an ILLUSTRATION or photograph because the process does not easily translate into words.)

Soon, my purchases and I were safely out the door and in the car. I managed to escape without further additions. I got out of there with:
  • two balls of RYC Silk Wool DK for project completion (belated Xmas gift)
  • one skein of coveted Violet Anne sock yarn
  • one pair of size large sock blockers
  • one tiny package of stitch holders
  • info on the upcoming Weaver's Guild meeting next week (free)
  • the #6 DPNs are still MIA so I couldn't buy them
Sock yarn doesn't count; tools are exempt. I pretty much stuck to my resolution, I think. Agreed?

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Little Stash Support, Please

OK. Here's the deal. I committed to Knit From Your Stash 2007, meaning no unnecessary yarn purchases until September. I'm allowed to buy enough to complete a project if I run out.

Well, I ran out. Somehow I miscalculated the amount needed. I was soooo close to getting away clean.

I bought one luscious ball of RY Classic Silk Wool DK in 307 Velvet (purple) to make Fetching for my friend for Christmas. RY Silk Wook DK is 109 yards to a 50 g ball. Should have been enough, right, since the pattern calls for 98 yards? My hands are smallish, but Friend has long, very thin, very elegant hands that make mine look like meat mitts. My own Fetchings were done on size 6's in worsted weight cheapo yarn and they are roomy. I dropped down to 4's to make hers a good 1.5 inches smaller. They measure perfectly for her hands.

I added one additional section of cabling at the wrist for length. I made it all the way to the last cable row on Fetching #2 of the set when I ran out of yarn. There is an 8-inch tail and that's all.

The problem? I don't want to rip back and try to squeeze it out of one ball. That means a trip to the LYS tomorrow for the second skein. That means exposing myself to temptation only three days into the new year and my KFYS commitment.

I'm scared. I absolutely must come out of there with only the yarn for her project and mental notes about how to properly fold my new loom (the instructions for that part aren't helpful, I need diagrams). (If my Crystal Palace size 6 DPNs have arrived that have been on order since November, I can buy them, too, but that's it.) Give me strength, everyone. Tomorrow, I face the enemy head on. Will I be victorious?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The A Word(s)

Having been tagged and given a letter by Julie, I now present... ten topics, truths, themes, or thingamabobs that begin with the letter


Academics, the world of:
Despite years of protests to the contrary, I'm a life learner and it appears I may belong here. I couldn't stand it if I never took a college course again. The university environment thrills me.

As a child, Mother would leave me at Dad's office on campus (he was a professor) while she went to a painting class. While Dad was teaching or meeting with colleagues, I would sit at his desk coloring but imagining I was the teacher. I dreamed of an office adorned with overstuffed oak bookshelves and ancient linoleum tile flooring in an old, musty building with a window looking out onto a tree-lined campus commons through which I could watch the rush of students during class changes. I saw myself surrounded by art, in a painting studio, in a gallery, mentoring others. This image slipped away from me as I became obsessed with the idea of being a rock star in my teen years. Of course, that didn't pan out, but my first thought was NOT "go back to school to become a professor" though I did want to study Fine Art.

Instead, I studied graphic design, a compromise intended to make me "employable" (we know how well that worked out). Now I find myself drawn like a M-TH to the flame toward the academic realm once more. As stated in my resolutions, I am preparing my portfolio so I can apply and, I hope, be accepted into an MFA program in Fiber Arts that upon graduation will lead to a position with a major university teaching in the fiber arts/textile design/apparel design or related department. Or I'll open that yarn store. ;-)

I was born June 29, 1963; I was adopted ten days later. My parents were truthful, so I always knew I was adopted, but they went to great lengths to ensure I also knew I was "theirs" in every possible sense of the word. The only issues I had with being adopted arose from having no idea of my ethnicity, my medical history, or the answer to the Big Question: Why? Though I searched, Ohio's adoption laws prevented me from having access to my records (I just missed the open records deadline).

In 2004, a phone call came out of the blue. My biological family found ME based on my posts on adoption search sites. My b-mom is still alive (b-dad died several years ago) and I have a whopping bunch of siblings. Four of them plus my b-mom drove to Ohio to meet me in 2005. I was able to resolve my issues (for the most part; I still need therapy I'm sure), learn about the unfortunate circumstances of my birth and how difficult my life would have been had I stayed with my b-family, and solve the mystery of my ethnicity—Dutch, Irish, German and Cherokee—confirming my long-held gut instinct that I must be part Native American (I'm 1/8th; my great-grandpa on b-mom's side was 100%).

Although they are very nice people and we keep in touch casually, meeting my b-family confirmed to me that blood does not necessarily make a family; as far as I'm concerned, the people who raised me are my parents, and I was truly blessed to have been adopted and loved by them for 43 years. I'm glad they lived long enough for me to be able to tell them that.

Alice Pieszecki:
My favorite character on Showtime's The L Word Yes, I watch it! I love this show! Yes, it's about the lesbian community in West Hollywood. But sexual preference does not (and should not) dictate enjoyment. Whether you ascribe to being hetero, LGBT, or anything in between, this show simply rocks. The drama, the story lines, and the character development are so scintillating that it is head and shoulders above just about everything else on TV. Season Four starts Sunday, January 7th at 10 PM. Be there. I will.

A.M. ante meridiem (before noon):
Not my favorite time of day. I am so not a morning person. My life is lived on the reverse side of the clock despite all my best efforts to rise at "a decent hour". My circadian rhythms have always been "off". Even as a child, I was wide-eyed until nearly midnight and difficult to wake in the morning. I was not the 6 AM baby. My lucky Mother was able to sleep in even with a newborn around. Mother blamed my night-owl tendencies on their failure to wake me up and put me on a "normal" schedule rather than allowing me to sleep in. I maintain that it had nothing to do with them; endless attempts to retrain myself result in failure. (I can get up when I have to, but it takes a lot of coffee to get me out the door and my brain doesn't kick in until noon.) It is better to accept that I am NOT A MORNING PERSON and find a lifestyle that accommodates that sufficiently.

APHA (American Paint Horse Association):
I love horses of color. Paints, appaloosas, buckskins, bays with black manes/legs/tail. I'm also infatuated with blue-eyed horses (yes, there is such a thing). Both of my horses are APHA Registered Paints and have blue eyes. Cheerios has one blue and one brown; Shaveya has both eyes blue. It's very striking, especially on Shaveya (she's the white one). Cheerios had two Paint parents but came out solid. He's a breeding-stock Paint. (Note: the bottom photo was taken in February, the day I bought Cheerios, hence the goofy five-year-old "lookee I gots a horsie!!!" grin on my face. Also, it's 10 below zero and I'm wearing 20 layers.)

Aran and Fair Isle:
2007 is the Year of the Cable and Color Work. These are two things I want to study in depth this year. My Cable Confidence has grown since learning how to do it without a cable needle; making a full-size Aran would be wonderful (after I finish my Central Park Hoodie).

I was known as The Musician of the Family most of my life, but Artist is what I've always though I was. My ability to express myself visually is just as vital to me as doing so musically—perhaps more so. Everyone in my family is or was visually talented (i.e. I was raised by a bunch of artists both pro and amateur, fine and mechanical) but I'm the only one with an ear or a voice for melody.

So I was labeled The Musician, and encouraged away from Art, I suspect, in order to differentiate me from the rest of the herd. Being a musician was great and everyone was happy with me in this role... until I hit my teens and discovered rock music—in particular, Steve Perry (Journey) and Ann Wilson (Heart). My parents' hearts were broken when I shunned the world of classical, jazz, opera or concert band music in favor of loud, wailing hard rock. They were set on seeing me graduate from college with a music degree and go on to sing opera (*snort*) or be a high school band director (*cough gag*). Nothing wrong with either path, but they truly are not the paths for me.

As luck would have it, I was a rock singer during the amazing 1980's and my coloratura soprano voice, so "perfectly suited" to opera, was also perfectly suited to the glam/arena rock of the day. For years I performed under a stage name. My last band was BonesGarage. Here—listen for yourself. Warning: this MP3 contains very hard rock, but has clean lyrics. There is other stuff on the site—if you feel like nosing around, feel free. I haven't updated the site in two years, though.

But I digress (and I ramble). At 43, in need of a new life, I'm convinced (or am I?) my days of impending rock stardom (ha ha) are long past me yet I struggle with whether to return to music (at age 43??? can I still be a rock star??? dude, wanna join a band?) versus moving into uncharted territory (Fine Arts/Fibers). But... does it really matter what the medium is? It's all art in my book. Creativity is the key.

Absolutely my favorite color (eggplant). It's purple; it's brownish; it's reddish; it's dark, rich, and earthy; it coordinates well with so many odd colors (brick red, teal, chocolate, olive, black, grey, gold, silver, copper); it looks damn good on me with my green-eyed brunette coloring.

Something I feel I've not been for many years—either to myself or the world—hence my biggest resolution of 2007 is to rectify that.

Over the years, I've developed a pretense under which I've operated. This is difficult to admit. I haven't been faking it, so to speak, but more and more I've been stifling my true nature, which is quite eccentric and unconventional, since leaving behind the world of rock and roll and the wonder that was the 80's glam rock scene. Bits and pieces of my true nature occasionally find their way to freedom—one can't help that—but I've been living behind a mask. I allowed Conformity and The Mundane to swallow me whole. I became Middle Aged and Middle of the Road.

I hate it. It's not ME.

Maybe we all do it to some extent, but for me it was extreme. The reasons WHY I've stifled myself for so long are revealing themselves in the wake of my parents' deaths. Whether due to unspoken expectations, fear of rejection, identity issues or all of the above and more, I have yet to know.

Regardless, the masks are coming off. I'm no longer going to be so damned polite all the time ;-). No longer will I try to please everyone else to the detriment of my own happiness. No longer will I desperately try to be what everyone else expects me to be or thinks is right for me or thinks I should be. The only person from whom I need validation is myself. I realize that I might piss off some people, offend others, or intrigue a few by doing this. From today onward, I no longer concern myself with that. My needs, aspirations, and self-expression come first. I'll do my best to be a decent, generous, caring, sensitive human being in public, but not if it gets in the way of being decent, generous, caring, and sensitive to my SELF.

Bonus (this MEME goes to 11)! Austin, Atlanta, Albuquerque (and Nashville, too):
Cities that I am fascinated with and may want to settle in. I've been through Atlanta and Albuquerque (I waved), spent ten days in Nashville, but have never visited Austin. Yet I feel myself drawn to Austin especially and I don't know why. Any ideas? I know very little about the city except that SXSW is hosted there every year.