Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spend Much?

First, the cat update:
Everyone is fine so far *KNOCK WOOD*. But being in the cat food aisle at the grocery store today gave me pause. Very few brands of canned food remain. Large signs in the empty spaces proclaim in all caps "PRODUCT RECALLED". What remains has been picked over thoroughly. I did what I'm sure everyone else has been doing—reading the labels looking for the dreaded words "wheat gluten" then putting the can back on the shelf—and managed to find a few flavors hidden in the very back of the foods that had no WG in them.

After completing my trip around the store, I was about to head to checkout when my cart veered wildly and, as if being pulled by a magnet, it dragged me first down the baby food aisle, then over to canned human-grade meats. Baby food is TOO DARNED EXPENSIVE!!! How do you mothers manage to stomach paying a dollar for the smallest jar of food (like two tablespoons) I've ever seen? It's a racket, I tell ya, a racket.

The human-grade meats section had more than just tuna. Being a non-seafood eater, I had no idea there were so many offerings in cans. Yes, I know human food has too much salt. However; when faced with the choice of feeding commercial cat food that has God-Knows-What in it and might be potentially poisonous, versus feeding them from a can whose ingredients are: "salmon, water, salt.", I think I'll risk a little extra salt in the diet.

So the kitties will be dining on premium chunk chicken breast (in a can), salmon (in a can), and albacore tuna (in a can) until this all blows over and it's safe to come out of the people food section. I'd go for the mackerel and sardines but I can't stomach the smell. (I put the cat food back on the shelves.)

Stash Update:
Well, today was the Spinner's Guild Market Day at the Fairgrounds. My plan was to have 9 scarves woven, washed, blocked, fringe knotted and trimmed, priced and of course sold.

My reality was that I had a major issue with my first warp that I didn't post about. I learned the hard way why we put butcher paper, cardboard, wallpaper, or corrugated around the warp on the back beam as we roll it on. It keeps the warp threads separated; this is especially important when using a sticky warp like wool. Let's just say I found this out 20 inches into the first scarf when the warp tension went all wonky as I advanced the warp. Oops.

With limited warp, no extra yarn, and limited weft yarn, I couldn't just cut it off and start over. Nope. I had to unweave—FROG—the entire 20 inches and untie from the front beam. Then I had to unwind the warp and find the problem.

Welp, a few of the threads (yarn) decided to hang, which meant they were shorter than the others by the time I got ready to tie the front. I thought I'd wound the warp wrong and cut everything even (slap me now).

So to fix my grievous error, I had to rewind the warp, being very careful about tension, and about how much paper was between it. Then I re-tied up front. I lost a good two feet of half the warp. *sigh* That meant I had to forego one of the three scarves.

After I did all that, I began weaving. Finished one scarf. Finished the next. Wove a small purse. Pulled it off the loom. Came out pretty good—slightly wonky in a few spots but nothing I couldn't massage into place and tweak gently. Now, I thought I was measuring my progress every foot very carefully. So why did I wind up with one 6-foot long scarf and one 8-foot long?


Washed in the Eucalan, blocked, dried. Took them to the Market Day. I still have them. But I arrived midway through the day. Apparently the fiber vultures (not my term!) arrive first thing in the morning. Ah, well. Learning experience. I didn't make any money.

But I sure did SPEND some.

Yeah, I'm avoiding adding to the yarn stash. But other stashes are fighting for equal time now. I came home with:
  • four books
  • two 4-0z lavender llama rovings
  • one 30-oz multicolor romney roving
  • a bar of lavendar (YUUMMMM) handmade soap
  • a second Harrisville shuttle, small, like the one that came with my loom
Granted, I won book #4 in the door prize drawing, but I sure did spend. I don't spin. Yet. Guess I'll have to learn now. I really need to post photos, don't I?

The books are:
I have an 8-shaft loom and I might as well learn what it can do, eh?

The book that I won is Lessons in Bobbin Lacemaking by Doris Southard. Now, I have never been interested in lacemaking. But I won the book for a reason. So I'll let you know how it goes. Any of you do Bobbin Lace?

ANyway, yup. I killed a few trees today writing checks. But I met a lot of nice people, pet some wonderful fibers, inhaled the luscious aroma of fresh wool—pelts, raw fleece, et al—and got my first taste of being on the selling end of the arts & crafts circuit.

All in all, a good day, and a nice end to the month.

Must do my project for class Tuesday. Have a great rest of the weekend!

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What's For Dinner, Ma?

So this pet food recall thing... for the past couple of weeks, after frantically checking the recall website, I've been thanking my lucky stars that my cats eat Fr*sk*es canned food (not on the list) and H*ll's Sc*ence D*et C/D (not on the list). The pricey dry food is all Tyler's fault: last summer he had a little trouble with his urine output and some crystals, and the vet prescribed it. I can't very well separate five cats all day, so they all had to eat the same thing. Hence, they all are now high-maintenance dry food eaters.

So I've been filled with relief thinking we're in the clear. Although past experience has taught me to be relieved, yet cautious until the authorities give the all-clear.

I went to my vet's office today to load up on dry food for the felines, as we are just about out. Spent $90 on two huge bags of H*ll's Sc*ence D*et C/D.

Got home. Few hours later, it's on the news. H*ll's M/D dry food is being recalled because it contains wheat gluten from that awful factory that's producing the rat-poisoned food.

Note the difference: C/D (mine) versus M/D (not mine, bad).

I've scoured the H*ll's website. They swear that only the M/D is affected because it is the only one that contains wheat gluten. I checked the label. No wheat gluten in my C/D.


I hesitate to feed them. I'm scared now to feed my cats anything that came from the store because I don't know what is in it. I don't know if I'm taking good care of my beloved kitties or unwittingly conspiring to their tragic deaths by supplying them with dry, overly-priced kibble and their nightly treat of wet food (it's a treat—I split one can five ways so as not to overstuff them). I mean, every day another brand announces a recall—who's next? How can I trust that just because Brand X cat food is assumed to be unaffected today, that it will remain unaffected tomorrow? Or will I hear that Brand X #666 is being recalled because of pet deaths... then look at the can I fed the night before and find a match?

So far, KNOCK WOOD, they all appear to be as healthy as they've ever been. But I blanched when I read a related article online that stated the owner took her cat to the vet after noticing a strong ammonia smell in the litterbox and found out the cat did have some issues. The article may have been misleading, though, because it didn't say that the issues arose from eating tainted food.

The key is that I've got some foul litterboxes sometimes. I'm talking eye-stinging.

Of course, that could be due to my, er, overlooking the cleaning regimen sometimes when I get so busy I forget what month it is.

So, as dinnertime approaches, I have to wonder: do I feed them tonight, cross my fingers that our food is safe, and risk it; or starve them out of panic until this all blows over?

They don't understand that if I choose to withhold food, I'm doing it for their own good. Maybe it's time I start cooking for them. *sigh*


Thursday, March 29, 2007

OMG. This is TWO SHORT BLOCKS from my house!!!

Police still searching for suspect in Bowling Green shooting that left two dead

Yes, all my doors and windows are locked and all my curtains are snapped shut! I'm cowering in a dark corner right now.

Don't listen to the 911 call replay. It's incredibly upsetting. The 10-year-old daughter made the call.

I just finished telling someone this afternoon what a SAFE neighborhood this is.

Holy Mother of Cats.



Is it wrong to dream in Sudoku?


Sunday, March 25, 2007


It's no wonder I'm having trouble understanding my Econ textbook (and it's supposedly one of the better-written texts on the subject—not to mention it was written by a faculty member of our esteemed University *ahem*). Read this:
What makes the demand for labor or another variable input in the resource market shift?

Here, let me reword it for you:
What causes the shift in the demand for labor or another variable input in the resource market?
There, isn't that better?

Now try this one:
The less the marginal revenue that the resources produce, the less desirable are the resources and the lower the resource demand.

This one took some thought. How about
As the marginal revenue produced by the resources decreases, the demand for and desirability of those resources also decreases.
The demand for and desirability of resources decreases as the marginal revenue produced by those resources decreases.
I don't know, take your pick.

Maybe I should edit textbooks for a living. But... that would mean having to READ them for a living. Seeing as how I'm having trouble reading them for school....


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ponderings: a (Long) Musing in Three Acts

Act One
Today I'm having a hard time relaxing. It's Saturday. I'm free from school for a couple of days. Oh, sure, I have Econ, Law and C&I to read, and scarves to (try to) finish for next week's Market Day, a house still in chaos, cats needing attention, and chores to do, but I'm not "busy" as in obligated elsewhere. I'm on my own time. I should be kicking back and breathing while I can.

Yet, I can't. My focus is off. In my head, I'm weaving, cross-stitching, sewing up the knitting needle case I bought fabric for last week (forget the yarn stash—I'm feeding the addiction with other sources, such as fabric and floss!), reading, having a beer on the deck in the warm sunshine. In reality, I'm procrastinating on the computer, sending myself on a "mission" to Big Lots for bins with wheels to contain the newspaper/plastic recycles in the closet (rather than all over the house), reading old newspapers and doing Sudoku puzzles (my newest obsession) rather than doing actual work (studying, cleaning).

What is my mental block about? I wondered.

Ah. That's right.

Doing Sudoku, for example, is to me a good mental workout and something to focus on while my brain resets itself. It's important. It's also fun. I remembered as a child having a preoccupation with Word Search Puzzles and Fill In The Blanks, buying books and tearing through them at a pace so fast that the publishers couldn't keep up with me.

To my Mother, such activities were a waste of time, non-productive, and the equivalent of "just sitting around all day". (I know I criticize her a lot, but I did love her; she was just a very, um, difficult person to please sometimes.) She didn't see the value in it that I did. As I've said before, she was a painter, an artist—she was a CREATIVE, for goodness' sake—she should have understood how the creative mind works.

Perhaps she did, but she had her own blocks about it, and tried to pass them on to me. I seem to have inherited a lot of them. She would pass by me on the way to the laundry room, see me sitting there working a puzzle or teaching myself a foreign language and comment, "Are you just gonna sit around all day doing nothing? How about you either help me a little or go do something constructive?" ("Constructive" meaning chores, or studying, or, well, anything but something that I wanted to be doing, it seemed.) It always irritated me that she said that, and I felt guilty for "just sitting there"—even if that's what I really needed to be doing right then after a hard week at school.

I still feel guilty and irritated, but there's no source. It's all internal. Today I realized it's because my internal tape repeats the Motherisms: do something constructive; do your work first, then when it's finished you can go goof off for awhile; you'll never get anything done if you just sit around all day with your nose in a book. So my problem is, I feel compelled to finish ALL my work—every last bit of it—before I can "allow" myself to relax or do something I enjoy just for me.

Trouble is, the work is NEVER done. I could clean from dawn til dusk for three weeks straight without a break, and maybe the house would be closer to what I envision (if I survived it). My studying is finite, thank the Universe, but everything else, household chores, bills, cleaning, repairs, errands—it's continual until the day we leave the planet.

Hence, I'll never get to "go goof off for awhile". Because this work stuff will never end until I end. And it doesn't go away just because I ignore it.

Now that Mother is on the other side, if there is consciousness there, I wonder what she'd tell me now. Would she stick to her living beliefs (do the work now, play later after it's done)? Or would she tell me, "I was wrong! Play now, enjoy every minute, do a little work every day but don't make it the focus of your day because life is short and the work is unending anyway so learn to live with the mess and just focus on what really means something to you"?

Act Two

Ah, there's the rub. I want to spend my time knitting, weaving, sewing, playing with dyes and yarns, spinning, writing music again, playing guitar, riding my horses, learning to quilt, learning all sorts of things and making lots of beautiful things for myself and others. Most of what I yearn to do doesn't exactly fall under the category of Gainful Employment (although if you refer to my earlier post, I think some of them can transmogrify into GE), and honestly, I really just want to win the MegaMillions Jackpot (even if it's "only" $12 million) so I can avoid working a J.O.B. and spend my time doing the things in the list above. I really resent that W.o.r.k. would intrude upon my life 40+ hours per week and get in the way of living. I mean "resent" in a deeply profound way to the extent that the thought of re-entering the world of 9-5 makes me physically ill.

But that's beside the point. So say I did win the lottery or found another way to be financially secure, and spend my day learning and doing and making pretty stuff. Then what?

One day, I'll die, and all the knowledge/learning I've gained will die with me. All the stuff will become A Problem for my heirs, something to be sorted, organized, inventoried, priced, appraised, stored, tossed, or otherwise distributed, much to their chagrin and likely with much annoyance on their parts at the intrusion my leftovers will make on their lives. It's possible that 90% of it will have little to no value to them. Things that I put my heart and soul into will be labeled with Post-It price tags and dumped onto a card table at a Yard Sale they'll be pissed they have to waste a good Saturday on. Maybe somebody will see the value in Great Aunt Jeanne's hand-dyed handspun cat hair, or my stacks of notebooks filled with sketches or lyrics; but the reality is, almost everything I create will become dumpster fodder when I leave.

Why do it?

Why work so hard to learn, when the learning is finite?

I suppose the only way to make it "worth it" in the global sense of the word is to do my best to pass on the knowledge moreso than the stuff. Maybe I am destined to leave a legacy of learning in some area.

I hope so, because I hate to think of the volume of yarn, floss, fabric and UFOs my poor grandnieces will be buried under when I die. It's truly reached SABLE* point. Imagine how bad it will be after another 40 years (God Willing).

Act Three
I hope that as time passes, so will the rawness I sometimes feel when I think about my parents. It's an odd juxtaposition of missing them profoundly, yet feeling like I'm dealing rather well (better than anticipated, I'm not falling apart at the seams or bound for the nuthouse). I'm able to talk freely about them, if in past tense, and I don't exactly hide the facts nor do I make it my introductory opening (nor, hopefully, do I dwell on them too much).

But I know it freaks out a lot of people when they do find out (mostly the younger set who still believe they are immortal), and there are unexpected moments that make my eyes sting. Not the things you'd think would trigger emotions; rather, it's the more mundane things that get me. Like an incident several weeks ago at a restaurant while awaiting the arrival of my dining companion.

A waiter, who couldn't have been more than 20-21, rushed over to say goodbye to his parents, who had been dining there. They were all of five feet from where I was sitting. I listened to their very ordinary conversation—you know, the usual—when are you done with classes, will you be coming home next weekend, how was your test, we'll send you a check, etc. And the young fellow's responses, slightly embarrassed yet pleased, the caring bond evident between the three. He hugged both of them firmly and waved cheerily as they turned to leave.

I felt my heart swell, and my eyes prick with tears. I couldn't understand why such a common exchange would elicit such a reaction from me.

When my friend arrived, I relayed this story to her and posed the question "why". She said, bluntly, "because you know you don't have that anymore and it makes you sad".

She was right.

So to those of you who still have one or both of your parents, I say, cherish the mundane. Enjoy those irritating little sayings they impart upon you, their annoying habits, the endless criticisms about your life, the small moments of everyday conversation that seem to mean nothing. Once they are gone, you'll miss it, and you'll realize it meant everything.

* SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

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Friday, March 23, 2007

The Best Birthday Present Ever/Fiber Workshop

(No, it's not my birthday, that's in June.)

On March 23, 1920, my mother entered this world. Thirty years later, on the same day, she and my dad were married. For her birthday gift that year, my Mom got my Dad as her lifetime partner and best friend.

Had they lived past 2006, Mom would have turned 87 today, Dad would be 89 (February 23) and they would have celebrated 57 gloriously wed years.

Happy Birthday, Mom, and Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I miss you both.


In other news, to prevent this from being a maudlin dead parents post... I spent the day in a Fiber workshop at school. Marilyn Prucka, a very talented fiber artist, quilter and printmaker from Michigan came to the college to give a one-day workshop on Corn Dextrin and Potato Dextrin resist techniques. (If I had a website link, I'd post it, but there isn't one yet.) We learned to use discharge methods—thickened bleach or sodium alginate paint medium mixed with thiorea dioxide (Thiox)—with the resists on black fabric to get some interesting results.

We used Country Classic Beechwood in black and regular cotton in white for our samples. In addition, we were able to experiment with commercially-printed or hand-dyed fabrics (such as samples we did in Surface Design class using Procion MX dyes) using these techniques.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. The bleach pulls a luscious orange-red from the Beechwood; the Thiorea (which I kept hearing as Diarrhea, LOL) was more subtle and resulted in a shiny dark grey area that has an almost metallic effect. However, that could be something I did to it, I'm not sure. I'll have to ask my fibers prof if that's correct (the way I have it). Different fabrics will bleach to different colors.

The potato dextrin cracks and pulls in as it dries, a bit like batik but the lines are different. The corn dextrin is smoother and is good for drawing fine lines. They can be used together or separately, with masking tape, with stamps, can be drawn into, can be used to silkscreen-resist... and a piece can start one way and end another. Example: put down potato and corn dextrin, let dry, apply bleach, watch it pull color, rinse out, apply more resist, more bleach, rinse, neutralize the bleach... apply more resist, immersion-dye or paint with dye... steam... rinse... apply more resist... etc. It's endless and the more you do to it, the more interesting the textures and colors become. Bleaching pulls colors that it's very difficult to get when trying to apply it with paint.

The downside of this method is the time factor. The dextrins and Thiox both should ideally be left to sit overnight before moving to the next step of application; the bleach, however, is very quick. The thickened paste only stays active for about 15 minutes so you have to work fast, and then you have to dunk it in water as soon as it's two shades down from the color you want so it stops bleaching (almost—it actually stays mildly active until it's neutralized but bleach can be left unneutralized for a couple of years after only rinsing before it begins to break down the fibers).

I'm still in progress with the samples, so I'll try to remember to take digi's when I'm done and post them for the curious.


OK, I've reported my daily activities and sufficiently honored my beloved parents on their special day. I'm starving, so it's nachos and a Netflix for me. Have a great Friday.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fire Drill

Quite the exciting night tonight at the art building. While finishing up my surface design project (the one due this afternoon that I spent 5 hours hand sewing tonight) in the lab, I heard an odd alarm-like noise.

Turns out, it was an alarm of the firey kind. But it was faint because it was in the new part of the building (I was in the old part—they are connected but the door was shut). I conferred with the other two girls working in the adjacent fibers lab as to whether we should leave or not. Nobody seemed too upset. Then my spidey sense went off, so we all left our projects and went outside with the other irritated art students. Amazing how many people were working on projects at 10:00 at night on a Wednesday.

The fire truck arrived dramatically. One girl looked hopeful—she was dreaming of a hot fireman rescuing her. Unfortunately, the three that showed up fell short of her expectations. Still, it was a nice spring night and everyone needed the break.

We were only outside for a few minutes before they declared us all clear. The alarm was turned off. We filed in through the doors. Just as I crossed the threshhold, the alarm went off again. We all pivoted 180 and filed back out the doors with a groan. The firemen jumped off the truck and went back inside. Again with the waiting. Again with the all clear.

Again with the alarm going off the moment I crossed the threshold. (Am I jinxed?)

Again, they jumped off the truck and took a look.

Again with the filing outside. Again with the waiting. Again with the all clear. Again with the return to the building.

Again with the alarm going off the moment I crossed the threshold. (This is getting ridiculous.)

Everyone froze. Only our heads did 180s this time as we looked to see if yet again we would be required to leave.

By golly, all three firemen, already on the truck (again), looked up in surprise at the sound of the alarm—then three sets of eyes rolled skyward as the truck pulled away. Their expressions said, "sorry folks, you're on your own".

The art students shrugged collectively and filed back into the building. I continued working on my project for another 45 minutes while the blaring alarm kept me company.

Suddenly, it was completely silent. It just shut off by itself. Or someone cut the power to it.

Well, the building is still standing, so it was likely a malfunction. Still, it was the highlight of the day.


Oh. PS. So far, no life-threatening irrevocable illnesses have appeared (knock wood).


Monday, March 19, 2007


Maybe I just shouldn't read these things. They are so ambiguous that you don't know whether they are good or bad. Take tomorrow's daily, for example:
For March 19, 2007
An end or alteration to a legal or academic matter is likely in the months surrounding March 19, producing a significant impact on your income. New sources of income await.

Sounds good, right? Like, yay, finally the estate will close and I'll get my inheritance money and finally I'll be able to breathe again.


Or not. What with that nasty "Dad sold the stock" tax bill, it could be negative impact. I still don't know what the lawyer's fees will be (though he charges by the hour, not a percentage), nor do I know what the inheritance taxes will be. Or anything else. Then there is that last line about new sources of income awaiting. Does that mean, negative impact, but don't worry, you'll find the money elsewhere (too old to start pimping myself so that would mean either Wal-Mart is calling or maybe I can find a rich guy who is too blind to see I'm not 20 like I claim)? Or does it mean don't worry, even if it's bad, you're winning the Mega Millions jackpot this week so chill out?

{edited to add}Oh. Wait. I just noticed something. Legal OR ACADEMIC matter. Hmm. That changes things. That COULD be good, if it veers towards the academic sector, meaning... get into grad school, or something educational that will propel me towards success... silly me. I've been so focused on LEGAL stuff lately that my eyes just blocked out the words "academic".

Then there is THIS tasty tome. Note the bolded parts (my emphasis):
Weekly Horoscope for the week starting 19 March 2007
On Monday there will be a New Moon in your sector of travel, religion, beliefs, studies and connection with overseas people and places. Any ideas about travelling overseas should meet with success today. You may also embrace a new perception on life via the different people you will meet. Tuesday brings a clash between the Sun and Pluto which could bring a health matter to the forefront of your life that could change things irrevocably.[Oh, goody. What kind of change-my-life-forever health issue could I possibly have to deal with now? Wasn't losing Dad to MRSA then losing Mom to Cancer enough? Are they talking about my own health issues? or those of my horses? my cats? my family members? ARGH] On Wednesday the Sun will enter your sector of career, status and how you are seen in the eyes of the world and remain in this area for one month. You may rise to the upper echelons of society during this time, so state your case and present yourself as attractively as you possibly can. Your confidence will be at an all-time high, so make the most of this while you feel so good about yourself. You could receive recognition beyond your dreams during this time, and you may also receive some help up the ladder of success via someone very well known or a VIP. If you start your own business during this time, it will thrive and blossom beyond expectations. [Well, THAT'S good news. That means the scarves I'm weaving to sell in two weeks will be a big hit. Maybe I can just weave scarves for a living.] Friday brings a clash between Mars and Saturn bringing onerous obligations that will require you to work harder and longer just to make ends meet. [OK, well, that's not such good news. I'm already stretched to capacity. Help!] On Saturday Mars makes a helpful link to Jupiter which could see you embarking on a new work project, or starting a new company, that will include your business partner.
So. The week in Preview, eh? Maybe I should have gotten to bed earlier if I have all this to deal with this week. But I was weaving. Those scarves. The ones I plan to sell. I did three warps this week, all ready to go, and I warped my loom with the black warp tonight and got started. It took 45 minutes to wind each warp; each warp should produce three scarves (production weaving!). It takes 2 hours to warp the loom; and I wove 19 inches in a half hour. The scarves will be about two yards or so long, so I should be able to finish a scarf in about 2 and a half hours. True, there is tying fringe, washing, blocking and finishing to consider, but I think I can actually do this.

OK, really going to bed now. Have a great week, y'all.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Little Less??? Conversation

So tonight I went out for our weekly standing dinner-and-SnB-night with my old friend B. Dinner was fine, nothing fancy, just a locally-owned eclectic sandwich shop followed by hot chocolate and a slice of mocha cake (for me) and coffee (for her) at our local java hole (complete with knitting for me and cross-stitch for her).

We've known each other for almost 30 years. It boggles my mind. Since I was 13 (and she was 15), we've been good friends. Our mothers were good friends. Our dads taught in the same department. She knew me when I was an awkward barely-teenager with all my quirks and growing pains; she's watched me grow into what I hope is a decent adult. No matter what crazy stunts I've gotten up to, trouble I've gotten into, or huge mistakes I've made, she's supported me staunchly and always taken my side. She has a big heart and thinks of me as the sister she never had.

You can't ask for more than that, really.

Maybe it was the headache I've been having off and on all day, or the increasingly insistent drastically spastic gastric disaster that appears to accompany whatever this is, but tonight I found myself feeling quite agitated. I noticed little things that irritate me that I've never consciously noticed before.

When I've just cast on for a sock and am obviously having a moment of "duh, how do I join in the round?", I'd appreciate it if my train of thought stays on the rails rather than being interrupted by some inane pop culture factoid. When I'm counting stitches out loud for the second time because the first time my train of thought was derailed (by something trivial), it's irritating to have it derailed again by something that could have waited five stitches. It's almost as if she needs to be the constant target of my focus because when she has my full attention is when she tends not to talk. She only talks when I'm absorbed in something. It's like she waits until she knows I'm absorbed, just to interrupt me. (Kind of like a cat.)

She's probably always been like this, but tonight it was jumping out at me. It disturbs me that it irritated me so much. I mean, I love her like a sister, so I feel bad for feeling irritated.

Then I started noticing that all we ever talk about lately—or rather, since she tends to dominate conversations with me doing a lot of uh-huh-ing, what she talks about—is pop culture. It's superficial. Personal topics are barely touched on—she asked me what I did today, for example. I started to tell her, and she interrupted me and went off on a long dissertation about silent film stars (a favorite topic of hers of which I share little to no interest). I tried several times to answer her question but never actually got to. But she will ramble on for a good hour about Buffy plot lines, or gossip about her co-workers (none of whom I've ever met), or complain about her ex-hubby or my ex-bf—without pausing to take a breath. (It is also impossible to get off the phone with her; I could say "uh, gotta go, the house is on fire" and she'll say "oh, ok... hey, didja know that..." and keep going.)

I'm ashamed to admit I've gotten into the habit of listening halfway, making the appropriate noises at the appropriate spots and trying to knit my way through it.

Tonight, on my way home, this thought occurred to me: If this were my last night on Earth, is this how I'd want to spend it? Is this the person I'd want to spend it with? Is this the type of conversation I'd want to be having?

Actually, no. I'd want to be having real conversations about real people. About important topics. Philosophy. Spirituality (not just Christian but all of it). Why are we here. The nature of the Universe. Deep, important things. I'd want to really connect deep down on a profound level with other like-minded humans, not snark about Britney Spears' latest hijinx or who the real father of Anna Nicole's baby is.

This began as a knitting blog. I really thought I wanted to talk about and show off my yarnifications and read about those of others. I do, but... it turns out, what I really want is that connection. I find myself skimming FO posts but stopping to read and comment on the more personal postings, like Crazy Aunt Purl's, or the Yarn Harlot's. I enjoy seeing what others are doing and can appreciate tales of knitting mishaps from which to learn, but I find myself drawn to personal expoundings. There is so much wisdom to be garnered from the observations and experiences of others. Read Tales from the Den of Chaos or Sheepish Annie, for example. Sure, there is knitting content, but there are daily personal observations about this journey called life that really hit home.

Turns out, I'm all about the feelings.

I wanna dig into people's heads and let them see into my own. With occasional knitting mentions, of course.

So, what does that say about my friendship with B? After 30 years, this is what it has come to? Pop culture, gossip and superficiality? You'd think after all this time, we'd have more to talk about than that. I think we used to. I try, I really do. I wonder what happened?

Is it possible that... we've outgrown each other, but because of our history, we just keep on keepin' on in spite of it? Or is this just a weird phase friends go through? I can't imagine that I've never noticed this before.

It also makes me really miss my Mom, because sure, we had our inane conversations, but most of the time, we really talked. I could talk to her about anything. Now that she's gone, I feel like I'm overflowing with stuff that I need to discuss, but there's nowhere to put it because I'm not sure who's really that interested in listening to my own ramblings. I'd hate to scare anyone away, bore them, or freak them out.

I'd put it into a journal and just keep it to myself, except that I really need to know it goes into an ear. I don't know why, but I do. There is no willing ear for all that I contain inside. People will listen to someone ramble for just so long before they scream ENOUGH and move on. I hate rejection.

Maybe that's why I blog. I feel like it goes into an ear, and I get comments that says some of it does, but if someone stops reading by the third paragraph, sighs in disgust, rolls their eyes and moves on, I'll never know.

Anyway... I hope my attitude toward my friend improves. She is one of the few who truly "gets" me and I need people like that around me. Everyone does. I guess I'm just not sure if I still "get" her anymore.

Well, it's time to feed the furry bewhiskered denizens of this household, and I've talked your ear off, so until next time... stay safe, stay happy, and try to stay sane. Thanks for listening.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

I'd Like Some Cheese With My Whine, Please

Ever wake up with a headache? I did this morning. It's likely muscular. Yesterday after Econ and a lunch break, I went to the art building and worked from 3:00 PM til 10:00 PM on my fibers projects. I bounced back and forth between the rooms. First I worked on the painting for surface design, then I let it dry for a bit while I worked on warping the loom for my wall hanging. Then I'd give my fingers a rest and go back to painting. Or, stamping, that is, because on this project we're recreating on a yard of fabric a famous Impressionist work of our choosing (I've chosen Pierre Bonnard's "Nude in Bathtub", below) but we are NOT allowed to use brushes—we are to find another way to apply the dye. Then we'll be whacking it up and embellishing it somehow (more to come on that once we're told what we'll be doing).

And on it went, until I finished the painting, hung it to set for steaming Monday, and got to the point of rolling back the warp in preparation for tying onto the front and discovered not one, but two, errors.

In between, there was a lot of bending over and hunching.

So my head hurts. It feels like someone took a baseball bat to the back of my neck. The Tylen*l is helping a bit. It sucks because I'd planned to warp my home loom for making scarves for the Market Day at the end of the month. I warped three separate warps for it—boy that sounds redundant, but how else do you say it? Warp is a noun AND a verb when referring to weaving. The point is, dare I hunch over another loom in this condition?

My friend wants to have dinner and SnB tonight. Can my fingers take it? For anyone who has yet to warp a loom, there is a considerable amount of tedium involved prior to the actual weaving part (hence ya gotta love it to do it) and much of it involves lining up the ends of the yarn nice and neat in little rows before tying knots just so and tying to the loom. The wider the piece, the more lining up and tying you do, and it gets to the fingers after awhile. Fingers, neck, head... I need a massage!!! SPA DAY! I call a spa day. Let's go. Where is there a spa around here?

Oh. The errors? Relatively minor. I somehow crossed two yarns while threading the heddles (Error #1). I've set up for doubleweave, which means I have two warps at once on the same loom, one on top of the other. Normally, each dent (hole) in the reed holds one warp thread. In doubleweave, each dent carries one warp thread from each warp, so there are two threads in one hole. My error caused one of the warp threads to be trapped under the crossed ones in the other warp. Argh. It's easy enough to fix, once I've rolled back. I can just rethread those yarns in the reed before tying to the front.

Error #2 is A-nnoying. I carefully warped two warps of different colors, both 15 inches wide and two yards long, individually (for my own sanity). Somehow, I mis-wrapped one go-round on one warp. I discovered this as I was combing the warp with my fingers to separate the yarns in preparation for winding back. My finger caught and I thought, HUH? Yeah. I looped it too soon. I have to make a mini-warp two yards long consisting of two whole threads to replace the two threads that are actually a short loop of yarn just long enough to fool me when I sleyed the reed and threaded the heddles. It's annoying for that reason and because I now have to untie a very firmly tied overhand knot to pull out the shorties and replace with the new ones. It also means lining up that chunk again (oh, the pain). Argh.

Oh, well. Could be worse. Could ALWAYS be worse.

Eh, apparently ranting and whining helps. I seem to feel a bit better now. Dinner and SnB is suddenly looking rather appealing. Good thing, since I'm supposed to meet her in a half hour. Better run (or jog, or limp...)!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Of Course It Does

So Spring Break is over and classes have resumed. Somewhere during "break", my student mojo disappeared. I have absolutely ZERO motivation to go to class. Of the five I registered for, I made it to exactly two of them so far—the yarn/fabric-related ones.

That's right, this dedicated student blew off three out of five classes already, and it's only Tuesday. Today I woke up, turned off the alarm, realized how utterly exhausted to the bone I felt, said "I can't do this today" and went back to sleep.

I realized that it was my turn to need a Day Off. I didn't really get one during break, with all the furniture moving, house cleaning and rearranging, packing, unpacking, and other estate nonsense. No, I tried to "make ample use of my time" instead.

Bad move. Shoulda just kicked it a few. I'm sure the two yarn crawls I couldn't afford were out of desperation (escape into yarn, pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist). Yeah, I said two. I hit a new shop Monday morning instead of going to classes. I spent $100. I swear, really, it's yarn for woven saleables. Really. Except for the Favorite Socks book. That's just for me.

After my lazy-ass lie-in today, I decided since it was going to be darn near 70 degrees and sunny, I must spend the day at the barn with my horses. The lazy-ass attitude continued through "brunch" and I didn't leave the house until 3 pm. *shrug* Well, the sun doesn't set until past 7 now, plenty of time.

Then I felt a shimmy in my car. The "low tire" light has been on for a few days. I just put air in them. They should be fine. Well, I had visions of a blown tire and a dramatic spin out into a ditch or being stranded out in BFE, so I dropped by my local auto repair guy (the one Dad used for 46 years) and got it checked—for free. I love small town life.

Turns out, the belt is separated in the tire. And, the car is smart enough to tell me about the low tire, but not smart enough to shut off the light when the tire has been re-aired. The tires came with the car. That means they are six years old. My Dad. So frugal. The car only has 26,000 miles on it (4,000 of which I put on it since taking it over in July).

So I spent $300 on yarn last week.

Now, I need $200 worth of new tires, and labor. Which will probably amount to another $100. (OK, this is Small Town USA. 50 bucks.) Which, totaled, equals my yarn carnage.

Of course.

They swapped the front tire with a rear tire in the meantime and declared it safe to drive. I made it to the barn. What a mud lolly! Even the parking lot. Because of the mud/muck in the, er, mudlot (arena attached to the barn), I couldn't get to Shaveya so I said hi to her over the fence. This is SERIOUS mud, people. Boarders have lost entire muck boots in the slop. It's like quickmuck. And it's not just dirt and water, if you know what I mean. The dirt is not just dirt, and the water isn't just melted snow.

Cheerios was easier to get to so he got to spend the day with me. I didn't really have a plan—just a horse jones. We mostly hung out. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and I feel more connected than I have in a while—of course, just being in the presence of woods and horses does something magical to the soul. I caught up with a few boarders, got all the barn gossip—it was good. I think my decision to blow off school, estate bills, taxes, cleaning, and life in general was the best decision I've made all week.

Even if I do have to pay for new tires on Thursday. Well, I spose I otter try to get to bed now—and try to make it to the classes I missed. Only seven more weeks of classes then I'm free. Seven more weeks. Seven more weeks. OK, six and a half. I can do this.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Broked It

My commitment to Knit From Your Stash 2007, that is.

OK, maybe I really didn't break the commitment, because the yarn in question will never see a knitting needle (only a loom). It just feels that way.

Yesterday, I went to my LYS. I was on a mission. Mission Accomplished. I returned home with 18 balls of yarn. All of them are different. I spent over $200.

Why would I do this, you ask?

Well... the Black Swamp Market Day is coming up at the end of the month, and my weaver's guild is hosting a booth. I'll be manning the booth with some other members for a few hours, and that means I can sell stuff. Stuff of my own. Woven stuff.

At our last guild meeting, one of the members drooled for the third time over the scarf I'd woven during the two-day weaving workshop I took in October. It's just a simple Basketweave pattern, but I guess my color choices helped. The droolee loves the way they form a sort of checkerboard effect he's never seen before (and he's seen plenty of these scarves, it's the pattern used in every one of the beginning weaving workshops). Well, that got me thinking.

If nobody else is putting together yarn combos this way, and it's striking enough to be droolworthy... maybe I should try a few more, eh? All it takes for a scarf is one skein of Brown Sheep Nature Spun, one ball of GGH Amelie (or similar), and one skein if desired of mohair.*

I'm now armed with enough to make about a dozen scarves. I'll be smart about it, though. There are three warp colors. I'll make two or more scarves per warp (production weaving!). For the Roasted Coffee (brown) warp, I have four or five potential weft combinations in mind. So, I'll warp enough for four or five scarves, then weave one, add some sheeting to separate, weave another, add sheeting, etc. Much faster than warping for each individual scarf.

If it's nice tomorrow, I'll do a photo shoot. I'm pooped now, after spending the day finishing my other mission. Since I'm Master of the house now, it seems fitting (as well as a necessary rite of passage) that I occupy what was my parents' bedroom and move out of my childhood bedroom. After two days of emptying the closet, sorting, organizing, washing the clothes (dust—OMG the dust!), packing them in bins, moving the bins to the storage unit, vacuuming, wiping down the woodwork, and mopping the parquet tiles with a good hot dose of Murphy's... THEN singlehandedly moving the box spring and mattress from my old metal frame to the green French Provincial I inherited from Mother (yes, I moved them All. By. My. Self)... it's official. I've "moved". The last bit of my parents' stuff has been packed away (the noticeable important stuff, that is; the stuff that declared them as "here").

My loom now occupies the spot where I slept for the better part of 35 years. It's behind me right now. My old bedroom becomes my fibers workroom.

There is no guest room. I somehow left out the guest room in favor of a fibers room, a bedroom, and a TV/guitar/knitting hideaway in the 3rd bedroom. Tough on ya, "guests". (Nobody visits anyway except the Phamily. Who knows if they'll visit now that Mom & Dad are gone? Besides, they took all the extra sleeping furniture.)

My Dad was right. Jobs like this go better after a beer (or two). All Hail Corona. I'd forgotten how nice it feels to sit outside on the deck on a warmish spring afternoon with a beer in hand. Oh, I saw one tiny yellow crocus that has bloomed. Spring is finally here.

Well, I'm pooped. Y'all can go ahead and Spring Forward all ya want. Me, I'm going to shower and Fall Back into my "new" bed. G'night!

*Note: these are my personal opinions, not paid-for endorsements. Just so ya know.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Intrinsic Costs

I was going to post a long-winded entry outlining my feelings regarding the latest Estate developments. Then I read it and realized that I don't want to post something that I wouldn't want the other people involved to read because it is just too personal.

So I'll just say this: It's all about the intrinsic costs and the opportunity costs, people.

Maybe it's in everyone's best interest to settle the estate in the simplest way possible and not get into haggles over minutiae, because maybe some of the things they think they want to argue about aren't worth it.

Maybe, for example, since Allergic One declined the sofabed Mother left her, it might be better if it just stays here and maybe it would be kinder and more fair NOT to demand that I "pay" for it if I want to "keep" it—because I didn't "want" it as part of my inheritance, but if nobody else does, then I'll gladly let it stay here because I do not intend to go out and buy any new furniture, which means that because two sofas and an extra bed have already left the building, there is now only ONE bed (mine) and ONE (useable) sofa* in this house, and there are FIVE of you all who will not want to pay for hotel rooms when you visit.

Do the math.

If the sofabed stays here, I'll have places for at least three of the five to sleep. The other two will have to make do with the floor or supply an inflatable mattress.

Is that harsh?

*I inherited one of Mother's three sofas, which is useable; there is one other sofa, but it's out in the Cat Room, covered with hair, torn to shreds, and everybody is "allergic" to that much cat hair so they are very unlikely to want to sleep in the cat room with five cats, two litterboxes and the associated mutant giant dust bunnies from hell.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

They Came

They just left. I stood on the porch and watched the U-Haul as it disappeared down the road, carrying inside of it some of my parents' treasured pieces. I feel agonizing loss mixed with utter relief over being able to finally reclaim some free space in the house.

NOTS (Niece of the Socks) and HDPH (her dear Painter husband) drove in from Indiana last night. They have been charged with the task of collecting things for my sister and other niece (Allergic One) in PA. They will store the stuff until they can rent another U-Haul and complete the task this summer. (I did suggest several more logical and less-costly solutions, but as you'll come to understand, I'm wasting my breath when I do that. Hell, I'm not paying for it, so I guess I really shouldn't bother worrying about it. Right?)

Neither Sister nor Allergic One can manage a U-Haul, let alone lifting heavy objects. NOTS can't lift, either. (What IS it with this family?) No, it was me and HDPH doing the grunt work. Yes. Sprained knee and all, I helped carry out then lift onto the U-Haul a couch, two dressers, several boxes, my bookcases that I rescued from my storage unit, a box spring, a queen-sized super thick mattress, and the foam crap mattress from the sofa bed that had been stored since July.

Sprained knee and all.

(The truck had a ramp. Several times I suggested pulling out the ramp. Each time I got "well, no, it's manageable, let's just lift it up into the truck." *sigh* OK, you won't mind waiting on me 10 years from now when I'm recuperating from back surgery, willya?)

Then, naturally, I walked my injured knee right into the hitch, or as it came to be known, the Trailer Fucking Hitch. That's the least ear-burning phrase I uttered all day.

There is more dust in this house than I ever imagined. It's measurable. In inches.

And so, it is finished.

Well, not really. It's only just begun. But I have space. I have room in my storage unit, in the deck room, in the living room, and in the china cabinets. This week, I can rent my own U-Haul and empty out what's left in my old house. Finally, I can put it on the market and eliminate that albatross from my life.

After the truck disappeared, I turned to go back into the house and paused; the snow has melted away from the front flower bed. All throughout the bed are these little fresh green shoots popping up everywhere. They weren't there yesterday.

Fitting that the first sign of spring would emerge on the day that marks the beginning of the real transition—moving out the old to make way for the new. It's like I'm going through a rebirth, and the world is responding in harmony with that.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007


Oh, Thank God. Midterms are over and it's FINALLY spring break.


Of minor interest (or not): After years of snorting in disdain at others who had one, I am almost ashamed to admit that thanks to weaving class and a samples notebook*, I am now the proud owner of a handy dandy hot glue gun and I have no idea how I managed to live without one for so long. It's kind of neat that it has two temperature options (high heat or low) and has a cordless option. OK, I guess I'm a crafting geek now.

Though I don't understand how I could possibly still have an appetite after reading Crazy Aunt Purl's blog entry today, I seem to be hungry. Therefore, I am now departing the computer area to raid the fridge.

Catch y'all's later.

*If you recall, it was a class round robin with 15 looms threaded with warps for different patterns and each of us wove an 8-inch sample for ourselves (ok, a few of us got all 15 finished; most didn't because they didn't think it would take that long so they didn't come in outside of class). Those samples had to be mounted in a notebook. Hence the need for adhesive substances.

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