July 29, 2005

Is It Possible to Have a Knitting Hangover?

Sigh. What an ordinary day today is. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, the clouds are small, white and fluffy, little birds are chirping joyfully outside my office window but, eh, who cares? The social event of the season, the Stitch & Pitch, is done, over, kaput, finished, and I feel bloo. But, no, I mustn’t wallow! I must pull myself out of these doldrums and assume my role as your cute and perky tour guide through what proved to be a fun, fabulous night.

Let’s get right to the good stuff, shall we, Dear Readers? Because I have a reputation for running scams, I’m sure there is a skeptic or two out there who thinks I made this entire thing up. Nuh-uh. And I’ve got proof.

This may look like just a crowd of normal people but this crowd is, in fact, composed of 99-44/100% pure knitting freaks. And scattered in and among all those bodies were yarn vendors, lots of vendors: Acorn Street, Hilltop Yarns, Pacific Fabrics, The Yarn Gallery, Village Yarns and Teas, Weaving Works... There was some major horsetradin’ going on in this area, believe you me. That, and a few elbows were being shoved into a few ribs as everyone scrambled to get their pink and white Stitch & Pitch t-shirts.

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And, here, more irrefutable proof: Knitters as far as the eye can see.

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This was only part of the crowd. There were many more knitters, including, to my delight, a few of the male persuasion, to my right and left.

Here, the Mariner Moose, draped in yards and yards of something superchunky and sickeningly bright (which, in this picture, makes him look as if he is bleeding to death from a severe head wound) throws balls of yarn into the crowd. His PR folks needed to do a leetle more research, though, because he threw many of the balls into a group of people in white shirts who were sitting to the right of us. Problem is, they weren’t knitters at’all but engineers, engineers!, on their own private outing which had nothing whatever to do with sticks and string. Did the engineers throw the yarn back to us, the true aficionados, the True Believers? Nope. Rat-bastards.

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As for me, I did acquire a ball of silver and black eyelash Moose-propelled yarn. Notice I said “acquire,” not “catch.” After I had taken the pictures of the Moose, I was busy putting my camera back in my knapsack, head bent in concentration, when a small ball of yarn came winging through the air and whacked me soundly on the head. It caromed to the floor and rolled straight over to, ack!, the rat-bastard engineers. One of them, bless his heart, did, in this case, pick it up and throw it back but I was already back to fussing over my camera so the yarn whacked me in the head yet again and, yes, fell to the ground and skittered away. This time, though, Dear Reader Patti corralled it and handed it back to me, protecting me from what I’m sure would have been severe brain damage or worse, had the ball and my head collided for a third time. Death by eyelash. How ignominious.)

Here, TMK intent on the game.

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She sat with me and the chitter-chattering knitters as long as she could but then escaped to this quieter, more fiber-free zone, where she could watch the game in peace. I suspect she thought that, sure, we all talked a good talk about knitting but when the game started we would get sucked in to the drama on the field and forget all about our needles and yarn. Boy-howdy, did we prove her wrong. For the duration of the game, there was as much passing around of half-finished items, sharing of patterns, discussion of the finer details of a good sk2p, patting of yarn, and squealing over beautiful colorways as there would be at any Guild meeting. We were just in a bigger building, is all.

And lest the skeptics among you think that Ryan the Scammer just hired a bunch of people to sit in some empty stands somewhere and hired the Mariner Moose to come throw yarn at us, all in an attempt to, pardon the pun, pull the wool over your eyes, a picture of the actual game. (Yes, those are the backs of some of the evil, yarn-stealing rat bastards. But in front of them, notice the hands clasped in the classic knitting pose—more True Believers!)

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And, lastly, photo-wise and apropos of nothing, a picture of the Seattle skyline taken from the stadium.

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A few more details:

For the first pitch of the game, a woman—don’t know who she was—threw a ball of yarn. It was very funny, especially when it unraveled all over the field.

The seventh inning stretch was renamed the seventh inning "stitch."

The Mariners report that 1,600 tickets were sold and they have every intention of doing this again next year.

Here, a follow-up article from the Seattle Times which mentions our very own little blog!

Oh, and did we win? Don't ask.

And lastly, YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!! With permission from the Megan Cifala of the Supersonics/Seattle Storm office, I'm pleased to announce that they are very seriously considering having knitting nights at at least one Sonics game and one Storm game next year. Megan contacted me after she read about the Mariner event, and we have been scheming and planning how we can make this happen. Watch here for the details!

Posted by Ryan at 11:25 AM | Comments (19)

July 27, 2005

Hey, Battah, Battah!!

For those silly gooses among you who were concerned—yes, we did get some peaches. A NORmaload of peaches, a whole coolerful. Do you really think we would have risked Marital Third World War and not gotten some frickin’, frackin’ peaches? So, where’s the photo, you ask? Uh, well, unless you happen to have handy one of those teeny-weeny, high-tech medical cameras that allow you to see inside a person’s digestive tract—which I don’t recommend—there will be no photos of the peaches. (Actually, in truth, we haven’t eaten them all. There would have been a loud explosion and little pieces of peach and lesbian everywhere if we had. Some were eaten and the rest have been cut up and are waiting in a large plastic container for our busy little fingers to root through for The Perfect Piece of Peach or the Perfect Pile of Pieces of Peach to put in a bowl, along with a little sugar and a little cream. Salivating much?)

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bike.GIFThe second bike has finally arrived, but not before I came thisclose to Withdrawing My Patronage. In our family, Withdrawing Your Patronage is what you do when the service you get somewhere, at a shop, a hotel, a restaurant, is so bad as to be beyond the pale, so bad as to require you to make a stand for all consumers everywhere. And no one, no one, was better at Withdrawing Her Patronage than my mother. She would go all cold and silent and colonial and WASPish and upper-crust and high-society, somehow make her 5’2” frame look very tall and stiff and straight and grand-dame-ish, declare in ringing, pseudo-British tones, “I Withdraw My Patronage!,” and sweep grandly out of the establishment, leaving trembling maitre d’s in her wake. Or so she would like to think. The truth is, we were living in a foreign country, and there was a very good chance the maitre d’ had no idea what she had just said, and just thought she was some crackpot old gringa who couldn’t decide where she wanted to eat. Regardless, it was always a great Hepburnian performance. It was hard not to clap afterwards.

Bike-wise, things did not progress quite to that point, although I was forced to be Coldly Unpleasant and Sharply Critical, the last two steps before Withdrawing One’s Patronage, but eventually it all sorted itself out, and Monday night, had you been a fly on the wall, you would have seen The Mysterious K and me pedaling furiously around a local school playground, relearning all the subtleties of turning, braking, stopping, speeding up, slowing down, shifting gears, and getting bugs in your teeth. Okay, I was relearning all the subtleties; TMK was just keeping me company since she’s been tooling around town, running errands on her bike, for a coupla weeks now. Show off.

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Thanks to camping, recovering from camping, eating peaches, being Coldly Unpleasant and Sharply Critical, riding bicycles, and the Stitch & Pitch insanity, my knitting has ground to a complete halt. I haven’t knit in—quick count—one, two, three…a week! But there’s hope. Yesterday, the Technical Support Supervisor at work announced that she and her husband (who also works here) had just adopted a baby. Once again I feel that familiar and persistent stirring in my loins. LYS, here I come!!

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A coupla important reminders:

1. Stitch & Pitch—tomorrow night!! I'm a Safeco Field virgin so this should be extra fun for me. I promise to take and post as many pictures as I can. And, I know, the Mariners suck big time, but whatevuh.

2. Next Thursday, Stephanie will be at both Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park) and Weaving Works. See her itinerary page for the details.

Posted by Ryan at 11:22 AM | Comments (24)

July 25, 2005

TMK and Ryan Sell Their Souls For Some Peaches...

(Picture-heavy posting, Dear Readers.)

Today’s entry begins with some hat doffing, one doff to brand spankin’ new Dear Reader Marty for going back and reading the entire blog. We’re talkin’ 2.5 years of entries, people, some of them woefully lame. You have no idea how much that means to me, Marty. No Idea. So glad you peeked out from behind The Door of Lurkdom and left a message. I have sent you a mental “thank you” bouquet of flowers. See them?

Putting the hat back on…and immediately doffing it again to sage and perceptive Lee Ann who apparently knows all about “the inevitable growling and snarling that happens when camping stuff has to be packed up to go home.” The Mysterious K and I had a good har-dee-har-har over that one because, coincidentally, TMK went completely Jekyll and Hyde on me Sunday morning when we were taking the tent down, but I slapped her smartly on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, just hard enough to make her do a u-turn on The Road to Complete and Total Meltdown, take a sharp right on Apology Drive, a left on Mellow Boulevard and another left on Happy Camper Street, where our paths crossed again.

As for the rest of the trip:

Here, the tent in a more natural setting than an urban backyard: Site #6, at the American Sunset RV Park. However, lest this photo has you thinking we were in a private and secluded area, lookee here. Trust me, tent sites 1-5 and 7-34(a), (b) and (c) inclusive were well and truly occupied, as were sites 1-120 on the RV side.

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(Side note: This was my first trip ever to an RV park and I have to say, oh…my…God. I have never seen so many white people in one place in my life. In fact, everything was white: The people, the campers, the trailers, the trucks, the awnings, the fold-up chairs… White, white, white. By the time I espied a lovely dark-skinned, dark-haired and dark-eyed Aleutian family on Sunday, I was starting to suffer from a weird and unusual form of snow blindness.)

Our blow-up doll bed. Cozy, no?

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This thing is a remarkable feat of engineering, for which we paid a mere $30. It comes with its own air pump which, granted, you have to remember to charge up for 12 hours before the trip but which both inflates and deflates the bed in no time (pardon the pun) flat. The bed lost no air, that we could tell, and if it didn’t lose air under us...well, I repeat, a remarkable feat of engineering. And, yes, that would be a down comforter you see on top. We are not about the roughing it.

(The down comforter did not prevent us, however, from experiencing the worst atmospheric condition known to man, Tent Clamminess--that cold, clinging dampness that settles on every inch of exposed skin and makes your clothes equally wet, cold and rubbery. It was awful. Kept us up for a good part of the night and may, in fact, be the direct cause of TMK's trip down The Road to Complete and Total Meltdown.)

Looking at the picture of the bed, you may well ask, where’s everything else, like, oh, I don’t know, the food? Well, we’ve discovered a perfectly weasely way to enjoy 100% of the camping experience with only 50% of the effort: Camp with parent-type people, especially a mother-type person of the June Cleaver persuasion. That way, see, the mother-type person does all the preparing, cooking and clean-up and you don’t have to bring any of that crap with you. In return, we, the daughter-type people, kept her company—and provided her with a car for sightseeing—while the father-type person shanghaied the (white) truck and went deep-sea fishing.

The red blob in this picture is the mother-type person relaxing in front of her (white) trailer with their (white) bichon frise, Benji.

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A photo of cousins Frankie and Benji on the beach. Benji is not feeling the love. Frankie is giving him the cold shoulder because he had one of those long retractable leashes and was running pell-mell all over the beach, a manic white blur of fur, while she was stuck on a 10’ lead because while we, with the best of intentions, had brought her 40’ lead, it was resting comfortably, sea-water- and sand-free, in the tent, five miles away.

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Our campfire, the building of which in and of itself is a story. Suffice it to say we made so much smoke that the guy across the way felt compelled to bring us drier kindling, and the people to our left ended up yelling helpful suggestions to us between coughs.

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The phallic looking things in tin foil? Banana boats, otherwise known as heaven on earth or the true nectar of the gods. If you’ve never had a banana boat, you have not lived. Here is how you make them: Take one ripe banana. Leave it in the skin, but split it lengthwise from top to bottom. Pry open the banana and fill it full of miniature marshmallows and chocolate chips. Wrap the banana up in tin foil and put it on the campfire coals for—we timed it—4.5 minutes. Remove from fire, unwrap, and enjoy spoonfuls of creamy, warm banana; melted, sugary, marshmallow syrup; and half-melted chocolate chips. It’s kind of like a warm banana split but without the ice cream. These things put s’mores to shame. Yet again, post-coital cigarettes come to mind.

A photo of TMK (standing) and her mother (sitting) before the banana boat feast.

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For years, even before it was on everybody's mind, the people on the west coast of Washington have been all about the tsunamis. In fact, one of these signs is posted at eye-height on the back of every bathroom stall door, er, that is eye-height when you’re sitting on the terlet. (I apologize for the illegibility but I was, after all, sitting on a terlet, in a dark stall, taking photographs—which, taken all together, is a little weird.)

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The sign says:

What Are the Sirens Saying?

An up-down siren, called a cut-wail, is a call for the volunteer firemen to report to the fire station. This is a GOOD siren. (TMK and I beg to differ. Good for the campers, maybe, who can just turn over in their sleeping bags and go back to sleep because they have dutifully read the sign on the back of the terlet stall door; not so good for the people whose homes and belongings have just burst into flames.)

A high-pitched constant wail is a tsunami warning. We hope you will never experience this sound.

Er, and if we do, then what? Oddly, no further information was provided. Just pretty much, "If you hear one of these sirens, it sucks to be you."

On Sunday, while we were busy trying to fit all this in the trunk of the car...

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...guess who was telling us in no uncertain terms that she was ready to go home? We had not told her to get into the car; this was entirely her idea.

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And, here, a classic example of "a picture is worth a thousand words:"

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Oh, and, no, I got no knitting done. For next time, any one know how to juggle two knitting needles and a flashlight?

Posted by Ryan at 01:36 PM | Comments (22)

July 22, 2005

Ruffin' It

Guess what we’re doing this weekend? (Wait...is it my imagination or is The Big Muthuh of a Tent larger than The Mysterious K's real house?)

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Guess who has already packed her toothbrush and a clean pair of underpants and is ready to go, go, go?

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Guess who says she's ready to go NOW, NORma it!!

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Guess who can’t figure out where the NORma the tent went? Yep, the entire thing, all 13' x 13', supposedly-sleeps-eight-but-only-if-you-sleep-two-to-a-sleeping-bag-wink-wink of it, is in that bitty bag which, however, weighs a NORma-load.

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Kicker #1: Three days ago we had absolutely no plans to go camping. In fact, TMK loathes camping and had made it clear that the possibility of our doing so this summer was nil. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Diddly squat. Which had made me making annoyed faces at her behind her back. Then the phone rang.

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Kicker #2: On the other end of the phone was TMK's mother saying that if we could find a way to meet her and TMK's stepfather at the campground in Westport where they were going to be for the weekend, then she would give us a box of the most obscenely perfect peaches from their obscenely perfect peach trees on their obscenely perfect little farm in Eastern Washington. For this, TMK will buy a new tent, buy an inflatable doll bed, pack a car full of crap for me, her and the dog, drive three hours, set up camp for one night, and drive the three hours home. She will do all of this for peaches; not for me, for peaches. For my part—because I love to camp and because I've had some of the peaches before and they are truly obscenely, post-coital-cigarette good—I am willing to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday. If you knew me, you would know I do not get up at the crack of dawn. In fact, not until long after dawn has finished cracking and has splintered into a million pieces. And maybe not even then.

Kicker #3: It's raining. It's the middle of July in a city that normally has no rain in the summer...and it's raining.

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IT'S DULAAN DAY!!
Unless something has come up, today is the day when all of the fleece blankets and knitted and crocheted items start their 10,000 mile journey to MongoLEEa. I truly feel that there are no empty spaces in either of the two containers. Whatever spots are not filled with boxes are filled with the thoughts and prayers of all the people who worked so long and hard on this project and who wish only a brighter future for the Mongolian people.

Please join me in wishing the containers a bon voyage!!!!

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Stitch & Pitch

For anyone who's going to the Stitch & Pitch, an article for you. 1,200 tickets?!!!! I'll bet the Mariners don't even know what hit 'em.

Posted by Ryan at 10:18 AM | Comments (11)

July 20, 2005

NORma!!!!

A story for Norma:

Those of you who are faithful readers of Norma’s blog know that she is proud of her ability to swear like a drunken longshoreman, and, further, you know that her favorite phrase in Shoremanese is “For f**k’s sake!”

Those of you who are faithful readers of my blog know that The Mysterious K likes to play video games.

Combine a complicated and frustrating part of a video game with the fact that TMK is a faithful reader of Norma’s blog and you get TMK bellowing “For f**k’s sake!” at the TV screen.

Enter me. Now, mouth-wise, I’m not exactly Da Voigin Mary. I’ve been known to let loose with Shoremanese on many occasions.* However, the difference is that, for TMK, Shoremanese is a regular part of her vocabulary, to be trotted out at the least provocation and, sometimes, even without provocation. For her, it's not necessarily a sign of anger but of enthusiasm, excitement and extreme emotion. If you hear Shoremanese coming out of my mouth, however, you'd better cover the family jewels and either apologize or run. That, and I can’t wrap my head around the idea of swearing a blue streak when theoretically you’re doing something fun. I just Don’t Get It.

TMK is acutely aware that loud and unjustified swearing makes her Princess (yes, me; don’t laugh) uncomfortable, so the last time she played a video game (I was knitting and back-seat driving, as I always do) and was confronted with one of the aforementioned complicated and frustrating parts, instead of yelling “For f**k’s sake,” she smirked mischievously…and let out a loud, guttural and resounding “Norma!!,” with a distinct emphasis on the “Nor.”

It has now become A Thing. Frog something for the fifth time? Yell “NORma!” Drop something heavy on your toe? Yell “NORma!!” Drop the last and most delectable brownie on the dirty kitchen floor? Yell “NORma!!” See that the neighbors are setting up for the twelfth “garage sale” of the summer which they insist is a “garage sale” but isn’t really a “garage sale” but an endless flea market where people actually drop off things for them to sell consignment-wise and which causes lots of traffic and noise? Yell “NORma!!”

Try it. It’s very satisfying.

*In fact, to this day I remember the very first time I ever said the Eff Word. I was on a high school ski trip and the group was getting ready to go up the mountain on the t-bar, which requires you to partner up. As is always the case in high school, no one wanted to partner up with The Class Dweeb. Suffering from a certain dweebishness myself and having a lifelong soft spot in my heart for underdogs, I asked her if she wanted to go up the hill with me. Sure enough, halfway up the mountain, her right leg drifted way over the invisible yet supposedly inviolable mid-line and her ski boot immediately locked in mine, which meant we were inescapably destined for a nasty fall somewhere between that point and the top of the mountain. And somewhere between the locking of the boots and what did prove to be a nasty fall, complete with snow stuffed up my nose, in my ears, in my hat, inside my jacket, one ski rapidly self-locomoting down the mountain, and the appearance of some interesting bruises as the day progressed, I said the Eff Word for the very first time. Loudly and viciously, with feeling. It felt great.

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Knitting-wise, I’m still plowing along on the first of Cuzzin Tom’s socks, which, because rumor has it he has size 12/13 feet, is turning out obscenely long. In fact, for a picture of the Ferals being bowled over by the length of the sock, go to Karen’s blog. (Ignore my hair. It was hot. I had used haircombs to pin up the sides and put the rest in a ponytail but apparently, unbeknownst to me, half of said hair had escaped, making me look very much like a chicken. How embarrassing to find out 24 hours after the fact.)

And just when you thought I wasn’t going to inflict some stupid holiday on you, Happy Ugly Truck Day, Happy National Nap Day, and Happy National Tapioca Pudding Day.

(Afternoon Update: An important note for local knitters. During her visit to Seattle, Stephanie will now be appearing at two places, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Weaving Works. Per her itinerary: Third Place Books, 3:00pm; Weaving Works, 6-7:30pm. I am planning on attending the 3pm get-together. Heck, I'm even taking the afternoon off from work to do it!

P.S. You will be amused to know that when I emailed Stephanie to tell her that there is more than one Third Place Books and her Web site doesn't indicate at which one she will be appearing, she emailed me back and apologized for having "NORma-ed up." What a hoot!)

Posted by Ryan at 09:55 AM | Comments (19)

July 18, 2005

Git Out Yer Fryin' Pans!

friedegg.GIFGood morning, Dear Readers, and a sincere “Happy Sidewalk Frying Day” to all of you!

If food prepared on a filthy city sidewalk doesn’t float your boat, then how ‘bout National Ice Cream Day (mmmmmmmmm), National Caviar Day (not mmmmmmmmm), or celebrating the birthday of the Weinermobile? All together now! “Oh...I...wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner…”

And for all you married types out there, don’t forget that tomorrow is Flitch Day.

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Thank you everyone for the enthusiastic response to the CafePress idea. We were elated by the twenty-something people who said they would be interested, with some die-hards already scheming to buy multiple items! And a special nod to Larry, whose comment made both TMK and me bray out loud, together, in unison (no, it wasn't pretty). Now you definitely need to order a girly-t, Larry. And wear it. And take photos. And post them on your blog.

In anticipation of doing Dulaan again, TMK is already working on a modified logo. I’ve seen it; it’s spiffy. I’ll let you know if/when all the pieces come together.

We see the benefits of the CafePress idea as being threefold. Most importantly, of course, by wearing a t-shirt, toting a tote or waving a mug around in the air, you get to proudly proclaim that you are a member of the Dulaan Brigade. Yee-haw!! Secondly, by wearing a t-shirt, toting a tote, or waving a mug around in the air, especially strategically near other knitters, you can help us “advertise” Dulaan and get more people involved. And thirdly, perhaps we’ll be able to steer a few shekels in F.I.R.E.’s direction. They can never have enough shekels. (However, I will leave it up to them to find a way to convert the money from shekels to Mongolian tögrögs. My head is already spinning.)

Now, if we could only figure out if I had to pay taxes on the profits, especially since it’s going to benefit a charity. Anyone know? (Update: Rachael, who has experience with these things, says "nuh-uh." I just hope she visits me in jail. And this AFTER I ran a scam! Is there no end to the evil in me?)

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This weekend TMK exploded in a frenzy of gardening. See?

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What do you mean it doesn’t look like much? What do you mean it doesn’t look like the result of any kind of explosion or frenzy? What do you mean you’re not impressed? Well, okay, okay, we agree. When, after about ten hours of work, including the laborious unloading of a yard of heavy dirt, TMK finished the final watering, stepped back and surveyed all her handiwork, she wasn’t impressed either. But she knows the secret; she knows how this whole gardening thing works; she knows that, in a coupla years, that patch o’ dirt with its few sparse plantlets will be a wall of flowers from one side t'other. In fact, the penstemon in the back (which you can’t even see now) will, in no time, be four feet tall and four feet wide and covered with dense, bright magenta, trumpet-shaped flowers. And you also can’t see the foxglove seeds which, by next year, will produce 8-, 9-, 10-foot-tall shoots covered in white, pink and purple flowers. (Not too shabby for a plant whose seeds are half the size of a grain of salt.) New flower beds—always a cause for celebration!!

More importantly, for those of you who are still consumed with curiosity, TMK finally agreed to allow me to photograph her face-on, if for no other reason than to show off her my new gardening hat.

While TMK was slaving away, I played sous-gardener, sort of like a sous-chef, only not. And I worked on this sock knit from WoolPak 14-ply:

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A gold star for anyone who can tell me who these are for and specifically how these socks relate to that person.

Posted by Ryan at 11:08 AM | Comments (13)

July 15, 2005

Queen for a Day

crown.GIFWent to the dermatologist this morning and had something suspicious and oogleh frozen off my face. And now my entire right cheek is red and angry and swollen. So why the big smiles? Because, coincidentally, today is “National Be a Dork Day,” which means, thanks to my dermatologist's finely honed skills, I get to be Queen of the Dorks simply by parading my face around. Yeah!

(Unfortunately, my illustrious reign is going to be extremely short-lived since at 12:00:01 AM it stops being National Be a Dork Day and becomes National Fresh Spinach Day. Oh, and National Hot Dog Day. And International Juggling Day.)

The Latest From F.I.R.E.: Meredith tells me that, “The shipping date has moved to July 22. We are sending two 40-foot containers this year, 1.5 with clothes [that would include our stuff, Brigadeers!!], the rest with medical supplies. I am putting together the volunteers right now, six doctors and nurses to provide medical training, nine for the clothing, and maybe a film maker.

We got a lot of great coverage for Dulaan in the local paper and TV. You should be able to link to the articles via our site in the next month or so.

A local film maker is trying to raise the money to make a documentary about F.I.R.E. She wants to enter it in film festivals and I want to send it out funders/schools/churches/knitting guilds. We should definitely include the Dulaan project somehow.” How cool is that?

Question: Some of you may be familiar with CafePress where anybody and everybody can sell their own designs on t-shirts and mugs and such. IF we do Dulaan for another year and IF we sold Dulaan clothing and stuff with TMK's spiffy logo and IF I sent every dime of the profits to F.I.R.E., would anyone be interested? (I’m just trying to gauge the level of interest. If you say “yes,” I’m not committing you to anything.)

(Update: Look at this fun thing I just found on CafePress!)

Posted by Ryan at 01:34 PM | Comments (28)

July 13, 2005

The Debriefing

girl.gifNiece has returned to the Land of Preadolescent Girls and People Who Understand Them, and peace and quiet have returned to the Land of Crotchety, Childless Spinsters. Other than Countermeasure #12, we are pleased that we had to activate only:

Countermeasure #6: Daily Trip to Community Swimming Pool to Tire Out Preadolescent Girl. Side note: This had the unexpected side-effect of also tiring out the Post-Adolescent Girl, so we had to activate Countermeasure #7.

Countermeasure #7: Coffee, coffee, coffee. (Not for Preadolescent Girl.)

Countermeasure #15: Trip to Discount Bookstore to Show Preadolescent Girl That Reading Isn’t As Lame-o As She Thinks. (I see from the TMK’s field notes in the margins of the Manifesto that this was a great success. I see liberal applications of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “A Wrinkle in Time” in the Preadolescent Girl’s future. Any other suggestions, Dear Readers?)

Countermeasure #19: Sit Preadolescent Girl in Living Room, Turn Her Head Toward the TV, Insert Spiderman II DVD, Hit Play, Race to the Office to Squeeze in a Call to a Client. Repeat as Needed.

Countermeasure #39: Go Bicycle Riding...and Then Tell Preadolescent Girl Your Old Bike is Now Hers to Take Home. You can imagine with what giggles that was received!

Countermeasure #51: Feed Preadolescent Girl Ham and Cheese Sandwiches. Two Days in, Discover Preadolescent Girl Doesn’t Like Ham and Cheese Sandwiches. Activate Countermeasure #52(a) or #52(b)

Countermeasure #52(a): Feed Preadolescent Girl Hotdogs.

Countermeasure #52(b): Feed Preadolescent Girl a Heaping Plate of Spaghetti.

Countermeasure #66: Because the Dear Readers Say This is Safe and Normal, Let Preadolescent Girl Spin Self on Chair Until Nauseous.

Our only failure was in the area of Countermeasure #22: Reassure Preadolescent Girl When She Gets Homesick. The Homesick Preadolescent Girl woke TMK up during the wee hours of the morn. This did not go over well. This will be noted in the Manifesto.

On to the next Manifesto, "How to Help Your Partner Recover from a Visit by a Preadolescent Girl." So far, I have: Chapter 1: Chocolate. Chapter 2: The Sympathetic Ear Chapter 3: The Health Benefits of Adult Companionship.

This second manifesto is going to have to be effective to counteract the fact that I frogged the entire Jigsaw Puzzle sleeve Monday night, a fact which I know will make TMK break out in hives and run screaming from the room. But, me, I’m a happy camper. My Dear Feralites hauled out their pens, paper, calculators and collective wisdom and helped me figure out more accurate increases for the sleeve (increase every 6 rows with an occasional 8th-row increase thrown in for a lark, as it turns out). A million thanks, a hug, and a couple of cheek-pinches to you, Kit, June and Andrea. Now, Dear Readers, help me convince TMK that the sleeve was actually just a particularly large triangularly shaped swatch with lots of increases and curiously intricate patterning that was meant to be frogged from the very beginning.

Note to Sam: Turn right. wink.gif

Posted by Ryan at 10:20 AM | Comments (15)

July 11, 2005

Why We Never Had Children...

Our reluctantly assumed roles as two middle-aged, childless spinsters came back to bite us yet again this weekend when The Mysterious K’s niece came to visit for three days while her parents enjoyed a second honeymoon in Las Vegas. Oh, what a couple of fussy old biddies, complete with sun bonnets and small glasses of sipping sherry, we turned into, as we desperately tried to figure out what one does with an 11-year-old girl. To us, it's akin to baby-sitting a supremely rare and valuable tropical creature with exotic dietary habits.

In preparation for Niece’s arrival, TMK and I spent many a night huddled together over the kitchen table, tossing out ideas, trotting out what we knew about child development (not much, it turns out), trotting out what we knew about things to do around Seattle (in comparison, quite a bit), and ultimately producing our carefully crafted and detailed manifesto, “The Care and Feeding of Preadolescent Girls,” which considers such questions as: How do they think? What do they eat? How do they behave? What kind of entertainment do they require? How quickly do they get bored? What's a good bed-time? What does one do if the PG talks back or displays other unsavory behavior? What movies are too adult for her age? What does one do if she becomes homesick? If she gets out of hand, can we just have her hitchhike home? And the most important question, How many times can we get her to walk the dog before it is considered uncompensated child labor?

Like the lily-livered coward that I am, I solved my half of the problem by scarpering before Niece ever arrived to, in my defense, get many of the things done around my house that needed doing. However, TMK and I have kept tabs with each other over the days, carefully marking off from the Manifesto completed event after completed event and completed task after completed task. Everything seems to be going well. Or, at least, niece hasn’t yet climbed up on the roof of the house, pelted TMK with coconuts, and refused to come down.

(Update: TMK just called to report that she has discovered Niece spinning aimlessly around on one of the office chairs. After much analysis and much consulting of the Manifesto, we have determined that Aimless Spinning is Symptom #4 of Problem #6, Preadolescent Boredom. After further analysis, we have decided to activate Countermeasure #12, The Liberal Application of Lunch Foods.)

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I have not been getting much knitting done lately, or, more accurately, the knitting I have been doing has been too dull to blog about (heck, even I don't want to read about the knitting of the second of two navy blue socks). However, I remembered I had on my camera photos of someone else’s astonishingly beautiful work that I wanted to share with you. This sleeve was knit by Norma, one of the Feralites, from yarn that she dyed herself. Is it not gawjus? I mean, who woulda thought that magenta, gold, mint green and turquoise would go together, but somehow Norma makes this work.


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Speaking of which, Feralites tonight! Andrea, Rebecca, Patti: Will any of you be there? If so, I’ll bring your Stitch & Pitch tickets.

Posted by Ryan at 01:11 PM | Comments (13)

July 08, 2005

Use #469 for Kitchen Tongs

How much of a sign is it that your refrigerator has to be cleaned out if the lids of half of the containers in it have burped open and the other half have sucked in? (I suspect this is going to be one of those take-no-prisoners refrigerator cleanings where contents and container alike end up in the garbage. I try as much as possible to wage a one-woman campaign against plastics in landfills but when your own refrigerator has become a mini-Chernobyl, is glowing a ghastly green, and you need tongs to touch anything inside it, what’re you gonna do?)

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In the Dulaan arena, I am happily astonished by the number of people who have (a) asked if there will be a Dulaan 2006 and (b) dispensed with the niceties altogether and are already knitting furiously away. To answer everyone's questions, the decision as to whether Dulaan will continue for another year rests with F.I.R.E. The good folks in Arizona currently have their hands full with sorting and packing this year’s items in time for the July 15 ship date. After that, I’ll get in touch with them to find out if they want to continue the project for another year. They have always said they will continue to accept whatever knitted items we send their way but I want a final confirmation before I leap head first into my cheerleading role for a second go-round, which I will, mind, be very happy to do.

What’s important to remember is that if not one of you ever knits another item for anyone in Mongolia ever again, Dulaan 2005 was an astounding success, and 4,517 Mongolian men, women and children will be able to survive the winter a little better because of you.

We ran a heck of a scam, eh, people?

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Due to the focus on Dulaan, I didn't write about our 4th of July weekend—which is all for the better because the finer details would have bored the Dear Readers into a collective stupor. However, we did have a marvy barbecue (the hoibed butter was to die for) and the rest of the weekend was dedicated to TMK and Ryan's Great Bicycle-Buying Adventure.

TMK and I currently have matching Fuji mountain bikes which we rode like demons in our younger years—even taking them on the ferry to the San Juans for a leisurely but long tour of the island countryside—but, lately, not so much. We had noticed recently that we were getting off the bikes extraordinarily s-l-o-w-l-y and would spend the rest of the day massaging our wrists, elbows and nether regions back into their happy places. Which is how we knew it was time for A Serious Change and why we marched into four bicycle stores and declared loudly and unabashedly, “Hey! We're looking for bicycles for two fat, out of shape, middle-aged old ladies! Whatcha got?” Once the sales clerks recovered from their shock, we were shown a variety of what, in the biz, are diplomatically called “comfort bikes.” And here is TMK’s new baby, a Raleigh SC200 '05:

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Here, yet another fat, out of shape, middle-aged old lady wonders how her short legs are going to reach the pedals:

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My slightly different baby is on order and may be here today. Then, watch out, Seattle! Two old farts coming through!

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TMK also spent some of her time finishing this for some friends of ours.

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The middle part is a lid that opens up and gives them a place to store all their child's toys. Is it not truly beautiful and substantial? And knowing that the owners are going to cover the top with thick, upholstered pillows, don't you just want to curl up on it on a rainy day with a good book and a cat? Oh, and chocolate in some form, either liquid or solid.

And, me, I kept slogging away on the Jigsaw Puzzle Sweater. I’m pretty happy with how the sleeve is turning out buuuuuut I now know I would like a longer cuff and the width seems to be increasing too fast, so I do foresee a major and complete frogging in the future. Don’t tell TMK. She will have a cow.

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Posted by Ryan at 11:18 AM | Comments (16)

July 05, 2005

Who Woulda Thunk?!

(Wednesday Update: Leaving this up for today so as many people as possible can see The Good News!)

It being Tuesday, I was not planning on posting but I find that I have to because, well, in newscaster speak, this just in:

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4,517!!!!

 

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I'm speechless. Even towards the end, when The Number was creeping ever upward, I never imagined we would actually reach 4,000, much less go over by this much. The poor, dear folks at F.I.R.E. must have been suffocated under an avalanche of boxes these last few days--yet, somehow, I'm not inclined to apologize. Instead I'm inclined to climb up on the roof of this (unfortunately short but it's what I've got) building and shout:

Dulaan
Knitters
and
Blanketeers
RULE!

What's next? Now F.I.R.E. is in the mad rush to get everything sorted and packed before the ship date of July 15 and gearing up for their trip to Mongolia in October to distribute your contributions. In the meantime, a huge Thank You and a virtual hug goes out to:

  • Each and everyone of you, from Washington to Vermont to Croatia to Germany to Tasmania, for the time you spent making the 4,517 wonderful, warm items that will soon be going to Mongolia
  • Everyone who spread the word about the project, thus bringing an amazing number of people on board
  • The LYS's who were willing to display the Dulaan flyers
  • MaryLee and her mentally, physically and learning-challenged children for their contributions to Dulaan. You and "your" kids touched me in ways I can't begin to describe, MaryLee.
  • The Girl Scouts in San Diego who made a mountain of blankets for the project
  • My dear niece, nephew and sister for their support and their contributions
  • The knitters who designed and shared unique patterns exclusively for the project, such as the Pinwheel Hat, the Ken Hat, the Dulaan Scarf, the Dulaan Hat, the Easy-On Mittens and so many more
  • Cuzzin Tom who who so quickly grew to understand and believe in the power and generosity of the knitting community, who had a vision, and who made it come true
  • TMK for designing the Dulaan logo and flyer, both of which were crucial in giving the project a strong and unique identity and which made it easy and enjoyable to proselytize about the project
  • MaryB, for her inspiration, encouragement and Impossible Numbers which turned out not to be so impossible after all
  • F.I.R.E., for the photos, for the regular reports on the growing numbers of items, for patience above and beyond, and for an unflagging belief in what they are doing
  • Although they will never know the role they played in all of this, all the postal carriers around the world
  • And, lastly, the little Mongolian girl who, for me at least, started it all.

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    Posted by Ryan at 10:58 AM | Comments (28)