November 29, 2004

For The Love of God!

One of The Mysterious K’s and my favorite cartoons is a Gary Larson effort in which a man is launching an all-out tirade against his dog. The man believes he’s being eloquent and communicative and that the tirade will make the dog A Better Dog but, in fact, all the dog hears is “Blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah!” Well, now you know what the .Net training was like. Don’t get me wrong. The trainer—a brilliant 24-year-old wunderkind—was articulate, enthusiastic, organized, a fount of information, in short, a fabulous trainer and, trust me, I know from trainers. But all I heard was “Blah, blah, blah, blah, HTML, blah, blah, blah, blah, Web, blah, blah, blah, blah, XML, blah, blah, blah, blah, time for lunch, blah.” 16 interminable hours of this.

It didn’t help that on Day One the woman sitting on my left picked her nails. Didn’t chew. Didn’t file. Picked. The entire day. Pick, pick, pick. Pause. Pick. Pause. Pick, pick, pick. Pause. Pick, pick. Pause. Pick. I spent most of the afternoon trying to formulate a plea that didn’t start with a shriek and “For the love of God, woman!!!,” but came up with nothing.

And on Day Two, the man sitting on my right turned each and every page of the 500-page manual, one by one, from beginning to end, for no reason. Whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh, whssh… My only thought? “For the love of God, man, pick your nails! Pick. Your. Nails!!”

I realized I had finally reached my limit when I started incessantly and obsessively drawing little daisy petals around the bullets in my notes. But it finally came to an end and I am, for the record, not A Better Dog.

My revenge was knowing that when I exited the classroom I would launch immediately into a long, luxurious, 9-day vacation. And I did; I luxuriated with great gusto. But now, the vacation being over, I have to say, "For the love of God, no more turkey!" The lovely friends with whom we spent Thanksgiving—they of the child for whom I knit sweaters—made a huge, brined, flavorful, moist, delicious turkey and sent us home with enough leftovers to last two more days. But then, on Saturday, The Mysterious K also made a turkey since, as she explained it, you lose your Michelin rating as The Best Cook Ever if you don’t make a turkey for the Cooking High Holy Day. So, let’s do the math, shall we? Thursday: Turkey. Friday: Turkey: Saturday: Turkey. Sunday: Turkey. Oy. (P.S. She kept her Michelin rating; even added a star, I think.)

Knitting Knews
The sweater I frogged while on The Retreat has regained form and function. Here is a photo of it when it was about a third the size it is now.

orangeaidan.jpg

The picture is a skosh bright. The Falk Dalegarn yarn I’m using is actually a beautiful, rich pumpkin orange, brighter than terra cotta, warmer and spicier than International Orange. The pattern is from the Jo Sharp book Knitting Heartland and is, in fact, the orange sweater shown in the middle of the web page. So far, I’ve found no mistakes in the pattern, and would recommend it to anyone. It’s a fun, rhythmic mix of stockinette, cables, and moss-stitch diamonds, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy enough to knit without having to look at the pattern.

On a different note, this morning I'm trying to wrap my head around what amounts to a "Beam me up, Scotty" experience. I know how the post office works; I know that when I mail something to someone it gets magically beamed from Here to There, but it's still weird to go to Pink Tea and see a photo of the skein of yarn that was in my possession a week ago (you need to scroll down a bit). Enjoy, enjoy, Caroline, and let us know what you make with it!

Note to Cuzzin Tom: The one two three four chocolate bars? Of course, I wanted ta' send my cuzz a little extra sumpin' but it was also a matter of currency since, in short, 4SBC = 1LL or, in simpler terms, the cost of four bars of Scharffen Berger is about the same as one skein of Lorna's Laces. (Oooo, a new idea for the Commune: Our only two forms of currency will be yarn and chocolate. Yarn will be the "dollar" and chocolate will be the "coins," since you can break it up in small pieces. Whatcha think?) Oh, and Cuzz, we're all dying to know: Was one of the guests at your party the guy who created Rocky & Bullwinkle!


Posted by Ryan at 11:40 AM | Comments (15)

November 17, 2004

Calls, Contests and Containers

No entry on Friday or all of next week, Dear Readers. This week, my excuse is I’ll be spending two days in an insufferably dull Microsoft .NET class, using terms like “strong type naming,” “cross-language exception handling,” “lifetime management,” and “dynamic binding.” Urk. I’d rather stick a hot poker in my eye. Followed by a liberal sprinkling of acid. And next week, of course, is Thanksgiving and I’m off for the week so, to all of you, an early

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On to today's entry...

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Thank Gawd some sane part of my brain was awake and alert last night when the phone rang and the caller said, "This is Lisa Smith." When it comes to Telemarketers and People I Don't Know, I have a hair-trigger say-something-snarky-and-slam-down-the-phone reaction, so at first I thought, "Don't know her," and my hand started inching toward the telephone cradle. But that sane part of my brain started screaming, "You know her! You know her! Youknowheryouknowheryouknowher!!!!" And then I realized it was "my" Lisa, "our" Lisa, Lisa from Oregon, who had mustered up the courage to call me, someone she only knew online! We (okay, I) did all of the usual girlish squealing ("Oh, my Gosh! It's You! You called! I can't believe it! How are you?") and then settled in for a nice, long chat as if we'd known each other all our lives. Thank you for calling, Lisa. Smooches!

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Now, the results of the contest!

The Question: What do my name and knitting have in common?

The Answer: “Ryan” is an anagram for “yarn!” Go figyuh! It took an embarrassingly long 3+ years for this fact to percolate to the top of my brain—but when it did, it just sort of exploded into existence, like a piece of popcorn in a microwave.

The Winner: At the risk of reeking of nepotism or favoritism—or whatever you call it when a family member just happens to win the only contest you’ve ever run on your blog—the winner was…Cuzzin Tom. Seriously. I know! Weird, huh? But you have to understand—I posted the contest at 11:18 and at 11:18:01, there was his (correct) answer in my email, complete with an unapologetic and loud demand for his prize of Scharffen Berger chocolate.

And because the contest is mine, all mine, and I can change the rules whenever I want, I decree there will be two winners: A non-knitter (Cuzzin Tom) who wins der chocolate, and a knitter (CarolineF—the first knitter to send the correct answer!) who wins der skein of ryan yarn. Cuzz and Caroline, please send me your snailmail addresses. Unless, that is, of course, you don't want the chocolate or the yarn...

goldstar.gifThe other folks who got the right answer were Susan, Casey, Kit, Aven, LisaG, Annie, Rachael and Sheila. Kisskiss and a gold star to all of you!

The other answers, which I loved just as much as the real one:

  • Ryan is spelled almost like Rayon. Close, but nuh-uh, Big Sister.
  • Ryan is an anagram for Aryn which is the Celtic spelling for Aran which is a style of knitting with cables. This one was good, don’t you think?
  • Both knitting as an industry and the name Ryan used to belong exclusively to men. True and intriguing, but not what I was going for.
  • Morrissey magic is a type of slight of hand performed with (among occasional other things) knitted (or sometimes crocheted) balls. Who knew?! Of course, I had to go straight to the Net to do a little research, and I discovered this!.
  • Anne and Gayle sent me this.
  • Norma rhymes with Lorna which is the type of yarn you’re giving away—which would be a great answer…if my name were Norma.
  • And, lastly, The Mysterious K’s answer which was my number one Wrong, All Wrong, Favorite. In her defense, she was tripped up by the fact that She Knows Too Much. She tried to anagram “little king”—which is what Ryan means, according to some sources, although not this one—into “knitting.” If it hadn’t been for two “els” and one “e” too many, and one “en” too few, it woulda worked! Again, go figyuh!

Woodworking World
For Dear Readers Vanessa, Angela, and Nathania, who seem particularly enamored of The Mysterious K's woodworking projects, here is the finished Container For Things To Be Contained, painted in buttercream and a dark sage:

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As for me, I've discovered that this a great place to store knitting projects I don't want to think about. In fact, the Janine Pillow is lying in there as we speak.

Knitting Knews
I've finished the pieces of the baby Norgi, and am now stumped. I know I need to sew the steeks for the sleeves to stableize them and then cut the steeks, but I'm having trouble visualizing it. Do I end up with a U-shaped cut? And then do I sew the shoulders to turn the "U" into a hole for the sleeves, and then do I set in the sleeves? This all sounds terribly sloppy and dangerous to me. In fact, as I type this, the Mission Impossible theme song is playing in my head. (Pause.) Bet it's playing in yours now, too.

norgipieces.jpg


Posted by Ryan at 09:26 AM | Comments (19)

November 15, 2004

The Debate Rages On...

What do you suppose this says about my Dear Readers? Unless I'm mistaken, the three times I’ve gotten the most comments on the blog have been:

(1) When I mentioned my neighbors’ 7 a.m. robo-sex (understandable; it's a discussion about sex, after all)

(2) The entries about the Mossy Cottage Fiber Commune (understandable; everyone can dream); and

(3) Walnut vs. walnut wood (whuh?!).

And just so you know we take your comments seriously, there was some intense discussion this weekend Chez La Mysterious K about photographing her wearing her best flannel shirt and her ultra-feminine and outrageously and brightly sequined jacket from her choir days, holding her router, cutting her walnut (wood). Images of Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre-In-Drag come to mind. Who knows; the photo may happen yet…

Still on the subject of walnut (wood), here is the a picture of the poker box in bondage (actually, being held together with a web clamp, sort of like a yarn bra only for wood).

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In fairness, it needs to be said that the project is partly based on a kit; the wood came with the bottom edge already routed into that pretty shape. But TMK says she doesn’t care since just cutting the perfectly mitered corners was enough of a bi-yotch. And it wasn’t particularly pleasant for me, either, since her miter saw and her miter box together made sounds like a feral cat being slowly dragged over a very spiny cactus.

Knitting Knews
Smack on the forehead to me—I forgot to mention that this past weekend was the monthly meeting at Fiber Gallery of "Gay, Bi, and Dabbling Knitters and People Who Don’t Want to Test Their Innocence By Drowning Them." As a result, there were only about five of us there—plus a poor innocent who just plopped herself down at the table, not knowing who or what she was sitting next to, and seemed to grow progressively more uncomfortable as the minutes passed and our dialog progressed. I think she was, in fact, Someone Who Would Have Tested Our Innocence By Drowning Us except that there were too many of us and we woulda’ taken her down. Well, the others woulda' taken her down; I would have cheered them on from the sidelines by squealing approvingly, waving my pompoms in the air, and kicking my heels up. Unless I'm reading him wrong, I think Dear Reader Devin would have joined me.

Mary, the owner of the store, is currently knitting miniature sweaters from this book to decorate her store Christmas tree, and I couldn’t resist photographing the little darlings. For size comparison, the coin in the middle is a quarter.

tinysweaters.jpg

Loved them all, fondled them for many minutes at a time, but, with apologies to Mary, I do have to say the green and white one looks a little as if a microscopic person barfed microscopic amounts of spinach on a microscopic short-sleeved cotton sweater. My way favorite, the blue and yellow. Mary’s favorite, I think, the purple one with the W, in honor of the University of Washington Huskies, since she designed it herself.

Contest
Finally, the contest!!

The rules:

1. The winner is the first one who comes up with the correct answer to the question AND SENDS IT TO THE RIGHT PLACE (see #2 below).
2. Don't post responses to the comments. Send them instead to my yahoo address: rymorriss AT yahoo DOT com.
3. Everyone can participate except The Mysterious K, since she already knows the answer (although, oddly enough, she wants to win the main prize as much as anyone else. Go figure.)
4. The winner will win this, a big honkin’ skein of buttery soft Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted (not sock, worsted!) in the Rainbow colorway. I love this yarn; wanna keep it for myself, in fact. If a non-knitter wins, I’ll send you some of this or some of this, kay?

prize.jpg

Okay, the question:

What do my name and knitting have in common?

Three, two, one—go!

Posted by Ryan at 11:18 AM | Comments (13)

November 12, 2004

A New Product for Pet Stores, Conveniently Boxed

There have been two times that I've regretted mightily not photographing an event, both times having to do with pets and tampons.

Many, many eons ago when my precious tabbies were still alive, Savannah surreptitiously (or would that be purreptitiously?) stole a tampon out of my knapsack. It was only after she had torn the wrapper off, thrown the tampon maniacally around the room, broken its little tampon neck, and was clutching her limp, dead prey triumphantly between her paws, its small tail lying forlornly on the carpet, that I realized just how much tampons look like white mice. Go ahead, try to deny it. Besides, we all know if it a cat says it’s so, It Is So.

The other pet-and-feminine-hygiene-product escapade took place just this past Wednesday when our Frankie decided to follow in the now-deceased Savannah’s pawsteps. The Mysterious K reports that she found Frankie on her doggie bed, tampon wrapper over here, plastic tube over there, and between Frankie’s paws a large, domed, fluffy, fleecy pile of carefully teased and gnawed cotton. Pets, tampons—a volatile mixture.

Not much going on in Knitting World since you have to have both an interesting project and a photo of the interesting project to post anything on the blog. Half of the time, no interesting project; the other half of the time, no photo. Scenario B applies today. I am, however, five rows away from finishing all the pieces of the Norgi Sweater, which I started in (...quick search of the blog...) April and will have pictures next week.

Fortunately, however, TMK has been way more on the ball than I have and sent me this photo of the wood for her next project. Is this walnut wood not beeyootiful? Difference is, unlike with beautiful yarn, I am not compelled to climb into the box and roll around in it. Yowch! The plan is for TMK to turn this into a hand-made, custom-made, hand-finished poker chip and card box for our friends for Christmas. In the meantime, she's trying to teach me not to call it "walnut wood" since, she insists, if you don't say "pine wood," "oak wood," or "fir wood," you don't say "walnut wood," unless you want to sound like a total geek. I, on the other hand, responded with things like "You're not the boss of me." And "Geeks rule!" And "Walnut wood, walnut wood, walnut wood, nyah, nyah, nyah!!" Hey, I never said I was a mature 44.

(Update: Dear Reader Kim had a good point. If you don't call it "walnut wood," what do you call it? TMK just wants me to call it "walnut." TMK's right, of course, but let's not tell her.)

walnut.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 09:59 AM | Comments (35)

November 10, 2004

Green Eggs and Spam

As happens occasionally, this entry borders on the mildly R-rated. Not for the kiddies!

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As the webmaster here at work, I am the lucky, lucky, oh-so-lucky recipient of all the wacko spam churned out daily by wacko people. Oh, look, here comes one now. The contents? "Alleyway americanahymen degas lausanneminimum lawmen ibexemissary alimony cauliflower divergent pseudo chomskyillustrate neuritis paralysis nutrition sacrilege productembassy duma telecommunicateaural clog modulus schoolroom vanish pompcoexistent afterword cloudybeep hollywood banalchokeberry." Oy. (Although I am rather taken by "cloudybeep.")

If I were a Martian, and all I knew of Earth was this constant stream of spam, my impression of humans would be that they are only interested in two things: (1) Staggeringly huge male genitalia and (2) new and creative ways to use the staggeringly huge male genitalia. However, being an Earthling, I know that the horrendously annoying spam is only one element of our continuously more interconnected world, and I also know the one way in which the Web redeems itself for the constant stream of rubbish: Free online literature (and by “literature,” despite the fact that the spammers would like to steer me in that direction, I do not mean the kind about staggeringly huge male genitalia and the new and creative ways to use the staggeringly huge male genitalia).

(Afternoon update: Big Sister says this entry gives a whole new meaning to the title of my last entry. She said it; not I!)

When I eat at my desk (like I did when, oh, say, I was avoiding the broadcast of Bush’s acceptance speech on the break room TV), it astounds me that I can simply go online and pick, just pick, for free, a major work of no-longer-copyrighted literature to read then and there. And the truly kicky thing is, being somewhat scatterbrained and capricious (ask The Mysterious K; she'll tell you), I never know what my mind is going to be hungry for. For example, yesterday I finished reading Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House" and, and just for grins, started "Plato’s Apology." True, I left long, black, smoky skid marks on my brain switching from the one to the other, but mostly I was left feeling, How cool is this? A sandwich in one hand, a can of soda in the other (yes, in my hand, not in my pants), and endless pages of free brain food at my fingertips. It doesn’t get any better than that. (Incidentally, if you're interested in taking advantage of all this online literary goodness, a couple of good places to start are Project Gutenberg and Bartleby.)

Not much knitting news, but soon, very soon I will run my first Mossy Cottage contest, as soon as I figure out a suitable prize. Anyone want a large, old, and dusty skein of fuchsia acrylic? In the meantime, here’s a site whose content in no way constitutes literature but which is amusing and entertaining and thought-provoking all the same.

Posted by Ryan at 10:05 AM | Comments (20)

November 08, 2004

Growth Through Pleasure!

(Many photos! May be slow to load...)

I was right—the purpose of this weekend was to knit. Period. Twenty-four hours after the fact, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the dilettante-ish-ness of it all.

Apparently The Retreat is a large gathering at Fort Worden State Park of knitters, primarily from Guild but also from other parts of Washington state, who have been meeting for many years, I heard 17 years from some people, 20 from others. Most of the knitters stay in an old barracks building but a few rebels have rented one of the officer’s houses—which is where I came in. Apparently one of the regulars was not able to come, a coveted spot was open, and it was offered to me.

Such a wacky, friendly, and communal weekend! I went from barely knowing most of the 20 women in our house to seeing them wander around in their flannel nighties and bare feet, bowl of oatmeal in one hand, mug of coffee in the other, a half-knit something or other in the crook of an elbow, ball of yarn trailing behind. But that’s the sort of thing that set the tone for the whole event. We knit, we talked, people came and went as the mood took them, we went into town for lunch, shopped at the local yarn stores, went for walks in the fog, had communal dinners—chili, corn muffins, salad and ice cream Friday night; minestrone soup, ham hock and greens, and apple crumble Saturday night—we shared knitting ideas, patterns, successes and failures, and Dear Reader LindaK kept the fires going to make the living room and dining room extra cozy. My favorite conversation of the weekend was the one in which, in bold defiance of the old adage “growth through adversity,” we were going to start a new movement called “growth through pleasure.” Who wants to join?

By Saturday night, we had all gotten so rummy that we would laugh at anything. One poor dear tinked three inches of a project before she realized she hadn’t made a mistake at all—and that non-event set of a good fifteen minutes of howling, gasping for air, and wiping tears away from our eyes. I don't think my stomach will ever be the same.

The house we stayed in:

barracks.jpg

And to prove that the house is Old and Significant, the sign on the house showing who lived there originally:

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A horribly fuzzy picture of the Table of Clutter where we sat and knit and ate most of the weekend:

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What I worked on—a child's gansey knit in pumpkin-spice-colored Falk, and which was completely frogged five minutes after this picture was taken.

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Downtown Port Townsend:

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One of the many beautiful Victorian buildings and houses this town is known for.

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Point Wilson lighthouse which is part of the park:

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One of the other old buildings at the park, Alexander’s Castle. If you are as intrigued by this building as I was, here is the lowdown.

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And my favorite picture:

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The questions I am left with after this trip:

1. Before it mists the produce, why would a supermarket choose to warn you with hugely loud claps of thunder that scare the crap out of you when, in fact, a simple light, chime would do? Good thing I had brought extra pants...

2. Why, in frosty, 31 degree weather, are buffalo smart enough to lie down to preserve body heat but cows aren’t?

And lastly:

3. “Egg and I Road?”

Posted by Ryan at 11:06 AM | Comments (17)

November 03, 2004

Many Four-Letter Words, Repeated Loudly and Often

Short entry today, since I am too blue and grumpy after the election to do anybody any good. Fortunately for me, unlike most people I have an out: Dual-citizenship. If things get too bad, I can always grab my passport and suitcase and head on down to the country of alpacas and Guinea-Pig-On-A-Stick.

The Mysterious K and I are consoling ourselves by recognizing that we did all we could do, which was to get out and vote—or, as we call it, "vot." (Many years ago, in response to the great Dan Quayle Potato-With-An-E/Potato-Without-An-E Debate, somebody posted signs around our neighborhood saying "Get Out and Vot." We read the poster out loud, rhyming "vot" with "thought," had a good laugh, and the word stuck. Try it. Say it. Try some of the variations, like "votted" and "votting" and "votter." I guarantee it will make you smile, even on a gloomy day like today.)

On a brighter note, this Friday I’m heading for something mysteriously called The Retreat. Sure, we have plenty of other retreats and conferences around here but they all have names: Black Sheep down in Oregon, Sleeping Lady up in the mountains, Gig Harbor down by Tacoma, The Seattle Knitting & Fiber Arts Expo by the airport—but this is the only event simply called The Retreat. My general take is that we do nothing but eat, shop, talk and knit, but that can’t possibly be true…or can it? Taking the camera; hope to have plenty of photos to share when I get back. Think good thoughts about TMK. She’s not too sure about this idea of being left alone for an entire weekend. I've tried to tell her that she'll have Frankie to keep her company, but she doesn't seem convinced. (Oh, and no posting on Friday, since I will, instead, be trying to find my way to and across Hood Canal.)

Lastly, a belated Halloween story. In my continued role as the world's oldest foreign exchange student and as part of my neverending efforts to become more Americanized (although, I gotta say, I'm rethinking this right at the moment), last weekend I carved what I believe was my first pumpkin ever. I have closely observed others carving pumpkins, I have squished pumpkin innards through my fingers, I have lit pumpkins, and I have admired pumpkins, but I have never personally stuck a carving implement into a pumpkin that I can remember.

Check out the eyes on the pumpkin in the middle. All my handiwork, yes, indeedy. TMK did the dragon on the right but don't let her fool you—like me, she used a stencil. Still, pretty spiffy, no?

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Happy weekend, everyone! Cuzzin Tom, email me or leave a comment. I want to be sure you haven't offed yerself post-election.

Posted by Ryan at 10:21 AM | Comments (21)

November 01, 2004

Just When You Think You've Got It All Figured Out...

The late posting is due to the fact that I found myself, unexpectedly, at a funeral this morning. The death itself wasn’t unexpected (the father of one of my employees passed away after a long illness), the funeral wasn’t unexpected, my presence at the funeral was.

Oh, Dear Readers, if you could have been witnesses to my morning! At 9:45 a.m., I was leaning back in my office chair, feet crossed upon my desk, picking my teeth, sucking on a wheat stalk, scratching my favorite rooster under the chin, and placidly contemplating whether or not to go down one floor to rustle myself up a cup of hot tea. That was when co-workers started trickling into my office one-by-one asking if I was going to go the funeral. Um. Er. I dunno. And then, smack on the forehead to me! Yes, I was supposed to be at the funeral. What had I been thinking?! I am the bereaved’s supervisor; there are a grand total of three of us in the technical writing department so we're quite close; and if there has ever been a time when one of us needed support, this was it, so, yes, yes, indeed, I was supposed to be at the funeral. What a doof.

The problem? By then it was 10am. The funeral was at 11. What was I wearing? Jeans with a yellow paint stain on them, a brightly striped sweater, and scuffed sneakers—not acceptable funeral attire, in fact, barely acceptable work attire. Where do I live, and where are all my other clothes? A good 45-minute drive away, on the other side of Lake Washington. After a hurried consultation with The Mysterious K during which we decided that, no, she couldn’t possibly get some dark-ish clothes to me in time—although, to her credit, she was perfectly willing to try—I jumped in the car and sped off to a department store five miles down the road. In the space of half-an-hour, I purchased black clothes (which fit—that's the miracle!); changed into them in a too-small stall in a ladies' room in a messy flurry of arms, legs, sweaters and pants, accompanied by loud, unladylike grunts; and found my way 15 miles through completely unfamiliar territory to the church. With 4 minutes to spare. I was sweatin' it a bit, let me tell you.

The moral of the story? It was Worth. Every. Minute. One look at the tears of relief and heartfelt gratitude in my employee's eyes when she saw the six of us from work who attended told me that every moment of panic, every ounce of adrenaline, every unladylike grunt, every permanent finger dent in my steering wheel—all worth it for that one moment. I'm feelin' pretty good. Sad and reflective, but good.

Posted by Ryan at 03:13 PM | Comments (9)