October 31, 2005

A Feeble Attempt at One-Upping in the Weird-Jobs Competition

black_cat.GIFHappy All Hallow's Eve, Dear Readers! I’m back, albeit minus half a tooth, thanks to something hard in a gyro sandwich (you know, the kind of thing you don’t want to investigate too closely lest the truth of what you're really eating is revealed to you in all of its awfulness).

My dentist is my hero. I split my tooth in half on Friday; he had me all patched up, emotionally and dentally, by 8am Saturday morning, even though he doesn't usually have Saturday hours. (And, for Cuzzin Tom all of you soulful romantics out there, when I got home, I surprised TMK trying to sneak out of my home after having left some pudding, a banana, a mango, and a Frappuccino—all the soft foods she knows I lerv—on my kitchen counter. Let me tell you how wonderful it was to go back to bed (the day sort of devolved into a mental health day), get up, grab a Frappuccino and a banana, and crawl back into bed again. Remember the day she carted me off to her house because I was too sick to know I was sick? Yeah, it was kind of like that. Thank you, sweetums.)

And now, before I say anything more about anything, I just have to get this out of my system: Goat Farting?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who knew that TMK would unleash such a cloud of closely held “weird jobs I’ve had” secrets from the Readers. I am so impressed. Thank you, everyone, for your stories. I wish I could contribute, but my early jobs were for the most part of the administrative, front desk, secretarial type. Although, the summer right after I graduated from college, I did work as the weekend manager of a horse farm belonging to some snootie-patootie rich Princetonian folks. “Manager,” it turned out, was the fancy name for a stable boy girl. But I handled my responsibilities passably well with the exception of:

(a) Attaching a horse to a hot walker and then turning the hot walker on so it went in reverse. Fortunately, although the horse, Jeremiah, was huge (a good 18 hands, for those of you who speak the lingo), he was the gentlest of creatures (unlike the equally tall Noah who was the spawn of Satan*) and proceeded to walk backwards, as calm as you please, not questioning the change in standard operating procedures.

(b) Weed-whacking right through a huge pile of poison ivy, splashing the resulting liquid up and down and…er…between my legs. I was wearing shorts. Need I say the next few weeks were not fun? I found interesting ways to sit. And discreet ways to scratch. And, as my desperation grew, not so discreet.

On the Halloween front, Frankie has decided to go as an elephant this year:

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You can imagine what it took to get this photo. Some other attempts:

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And here, she reveals what her “trunk” really was, one of a pair of Dulaan Stashbusting Socks made of Lorna’s Laces worsted weight and a bit of red Cascade 220 thrown in to stretch my yardage.

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The funniest thing about the "elephant" photo session? Right after we took the last photo, TMK and I got distracted by something and started jibber-jabbering away at each other about whatever it was...and five minutes later, looked down at Frankie, who was still sitting there, perfectly calmly, with the sock still on her nose. That dog.

No postings from me Wednesday or Friday, Dear Readers, although there is a rumor in the wind that the Guest Blogger may have a Guest Blogger. Curious....

*When I first typed this, I made a typo and wrote “spawn of Stan.” Poor Stan. He’s always getting Satan’s phone calls because their names are so close together in the phone book.

Posted by Ryan at 12:34 PM | Comments (11)

October 28, 2005

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about TMK

Well, as you know, Ryan tagged me. And she’s conveniently out of the office again. So, you’re stuck with the TMK brand of writing for one more day. Here’s some stuff about me, presented for your entertainment.

10 YEARS AGO
1995. Working as a graphic designer in my own firm since 1987. Holding down the fort for Ryan while she dealt with her Mom’s death. Giving our boy kitty fluid injections every day for his failing kidneys. The Mariners win their first American League Division title. Still living in an apartment. (We hates apartment living.)


5 YEARS AGO
2000. Still working as a graphic designer.

Ryan and I took a cruise to Alaska for a week. The first vacation together in many years. Much to our surprise we ended up on a raft floating down a river in the rain to look at wet, bedraggled bald eagles sitting on the ground. (We thought we were going on a big, motorized pontoon boat. As we were bouncing down a dirt road in an old Bluebird school bus in the wilds of Alaska, with our guide giving instructions like “if you fall out of the raft” and “if the raft gets stuck,” we realized we had made an excursion boo boo. We actually ended up having fun, even though Ryan’s camera got fried, a salmon tried to jump into our raft, and bear prints were just filling with water as we came around a sandbar.)

Sang with the Seattle Choral Company for two seasons.

Had owned a house for three years. Discovered an obsession for gardening and plants. Took many horticulture classes. (We loves living in a house.)

Painted my office Anthem Red much to the dismay of Ryan and my mother.


1 YEAR AGO
2004: Still working as a graphic designer. Had just celebrated my 18th anniversary with Ryan. Learned woodworking this year.

Thought about painting the kitchen walls tangerine. I got the look from Ryan when I mentioned it.


FIVE SNACKS
Chocolate, pastry, steak, smoked salmon (alder- not cold-smoked), homemade bread, salami, cookies. (Okay. The real answer is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate!)


FIVE SONGS I KNOW ALL THE WORDS TO

1. The whole Elton John “Two Low for Zero” album
2. Carmina Burana, in Latin
3. If I Were a Carpenter by, ironically, the Carpenters
4. I am Woman, Helen Reddy
5. The entire Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack

(There are many, many more, but I’m trying to play by the rules. And, how weird is this combination of know-the-words-to songs?)


FIVE(?) THINGS I WOULD DO WITH $100 MILLION

1. Buy Ryan her dream house, dream horse, dream dog. Hire someone to clean and manage the dream house, dream horse, dream dog. Install my dream kitchen in Ryan’s dream house.
2. Buy a 2005 Mustang convertible. Heck, buy a new one every year if I like the style.
3. Open a corgi and pygmy goat rescue farm. (The corgis have to have a job!)
4. Donate money to the Humane Society and the ASPCA.
5. Buy my mom a Corvette because it’s a sportscar and the seat comes up close enough for a shorty to drive.
6. Have my own jet so I never have to share airplane-air with strangers again.
7. Invest the rest and live off the interest.


FIVE PLACES TO RUN AWAY TO

Having really never been anywhere, I could run pretty much anywhere and it would be new and exciting.


FIVE(+) THINGS I WILL NEVER WEAR

1. A dress, skirt, skort, gauchos (you get the picture)
2. A bikini, (though, for the record, I used to look pretty good in one)
3. Stretch jeans. The fabric gives me the willies!
4. Anything with ruffles, lace or frilly of any kind
5. High heels or other girly shoes (although I like these types of shoes on Ryan—how’s that for a double-standard?)


FIVE(+) FAVORITE TV SHOWS

1. Red Dwarf
2. Smallville
3. Good Eats
4. Charmed
5. Nip/Tuck
6. Dirty Jobs
7. Monster Garage
8. British comedies on PBS: Good Neighbors, Solo, Keeping Up Appearances (you get the idea)

FIVE(+) BIGGEST JOYS, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

1. Frankie
2. Owning a house
3. Landscaping the yard
4. Rainy afternoons with Ryan knitting, while we watch a movie or play video games
5. Cooking for Ryan
6. Tanning in the sun (I know, I know, very naughty)
7. Reading
8. Being near the ocean
9. Playing Travel Scrabble with Ryan, at the beach


FIVE(+) FAVORITE TOYS (and Games. Ed.)

1. Camilla, Ryan’s convertible
2. Playstation2
3. My Macs
4. Cribbage
5. The Mantis rototiller (electric version!)
6. My woodworking router (as opposed to the networking router)
7. Ryan

FIVE PEOPLE I WILL TAG WITH THIS MEME:
Since I’m not normally a blogger, I’ll pass on tagging anyone.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Posted by Ryan at 08:41 AM | Comments (16)

October 26, 2005

Odd Jobs

TMK here, again. It seems Ryan has a couple weeks of work and vacation obligations that preclude her from upholding her blogging responsibilities. Hmmph. She needs to get her priorities in order! I mean, really!

Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to attempt to entertain you during her absence. One thing I should tell you right from the start—I’m not a “word” girl, I’m a “picture” girl. The thing that frightens me the worst (except for algebra) is a blank page that I have to put words on. I mean, right out of thin air words are supposed to land on the page and make sense. Give me a few words and I can doodle a drawing or logo or layout that will illustrate the words visually—just don’t ask me to explain it to you in writing!

So you’ve been warned. Read further at risk of having your brain atrophy.
_____

I’ve had a job of one sort or another since I was fourteen. Some have been pretty cool, some have been really bad. A couple of them have been plain weird. Jobs you probably don’t even know exist. For example, the summer between high school and college.

I went to high school in an agricultural area in Eastern Washington.(The place where they make Aplets & Cotlets.) That’s pretty much the town’s claim to fame. They even renamed two of the streets Aplets Way and Cotlets Drive or some such drivel about five years ago to keep the company happy.

Needless to say, there are a lot of fruit packing plants. What’s a fruit packing plant, you ask? Well, it’s a big warehouse where fruit comes in, and, primarily, women used to stand at huge rotating “buckets” and pull out each piece of fruit, wrap it in a piece of paper and pack it in a box. Nowadays, I think they just place the fruit in those cardboard, apple-shaped, tray thingies and forgo the paper. But, I digress. So the summer after I graduated from high school, I had continued working at my perfectly respectable job feeding residents at a nursing home. A friend of mine told me that the sheds (slang for fruit packing plant) were hiring “pear pullers” for the pear harvest. It paid twice as much as I was making, so I quit the nursing home a couple weeks earlier than planned and headed over to pull pears.

So what’s a pear puller, you ask? Well, basically, you sit in front of a tiny pear-sized conveyor belt that’s the length of the warehouse. And you sit for eight hours watching pears go by. You’re not allowed to read or do crossword puzzles or anything mildly entertaining. You watch pears march by all day on the off chance that a pear stem will get stuck in the belt and backup all the little pear buddies coming along behind. So “pulling” comes into the plan when you “pull” the offending pear off the belt and place it back on the belt facing up so it can continue on its journey. I have to tell you there’s nothing like the sight of 100 pounds of pears cascading eight or ten feet down to the floor of the shed when a pear gets really stuck! There were six or eight of these pear belts in the shed. For excitement the pear pullers would, what else, throw pears at each other when the supervisor wasn’t looking. This is hands-down the dullest, oddest job I’ve ever had.

The stickiest job I’ve ever had. Wait there are two. One was picking apricots (did I tell you I spent my high school years in farmer land?). Once those things start hitting the ladder, it’s only a matter of time before you’re covered in ripe, sticky apricot goo. You pretty much have to hose off, clothes and all, before Mom will let you back in the house.

The other weird and sticky job I had was at a vegetable packing plant, during corn season. I don’t even have a full recollection of what I did. I just remember having to wear white clothes, an apron, a shower cap thing and ear plugs. I can still see thousands of cobs of corn bobbing by in steamy hot water. I only worked one shift at this job. It took me two hours to get all the corn bits out of my hair and ears and other places at the end of the day. That’s when I decided I wasn’t cut out for agricultural work. I went out and found a job managing a couple of Shell stations. Cleaning the men’s bathroom at a gas station was preferable to processing corn!

Anyone else ever have an odd job?
____

On another note, go visit Elaine’s site where she has illustrated our first meeting at the Dulaan Knit-in, including a darn good likeness of me.

Thanks for stopping by. Ryan will be back. I promise.

Posted by Ryan at 08:50 AM | Comments (28)

October 23, 2005

Estrogen Overload!

Good morning/afternoon/evening, Dearest Readers. Your blogmistress here, squeezing in an entry before her Two Weeks of Frantic Weirdness begin…

Considering the fact that yesterday Mother Nature blessed us with the most dreamy fall day imaginable—warm and breezy with cloudless blue skies and that special golden wash of autumn infusing everything, the kind of day that would make even the most committed Dulaaner contemplate playing hookey—we had a fantastic turn-out for the Knit-In: Sandy, Karen, April, Flora, Susan, Elaine, Leslie, Diana, Perclexed, Rebecca I, Rebecca II, LindaK, Beth, Marilyn (TMK's mother who schlepped over from Eastern Washington to join us), Theresa (who schlepped over with Marilyn), MaryB (the hostess!), me and, of course, The Mysterious K.

Oh, and I musn't forget the most important participants of all, Charlotte, the Knit-In Cat…

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…and Mongol LEE, the Knit-In Camel, playing, yet again, king of the (very small) mountain. He tells me he much enjoyed being fondled by all the ladies, hubba, hubba.

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Here is the embryo of what will eventually be the Northwest Dulaaners' MegaPile, including my contributions so far as well as a pastel green blanket, a Danish Earflap Cap from Hat's On, a Dulaan Pointy Hat

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…and this from Sandy, a cheerful red sweater with the occasional variegated accent stripe…

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...and this Zud Hat knit by Diana and modeled by TMK...

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…and this, knit by the lovely model herself, Rebecca I, from superbulky yarn winged at her head by the Mariner Moose during the Stitch & Pitch, and finished and added to the pile during the course of the party!

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Here, pictures of the ladies hard at their knitting:

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From left to right, Theresa, Sandy, Rebecca I, Beth, Diana and Perclexed

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From left to right, Diana, Elaine, Marilyn, Theresa and Beth

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From left to right, April, MaryB and LindaK

Note the orange can in the last picture. This wonderful and unexpected contribution, which says in jaunty letters on the outside "Coins for the Dulaan Project," was brought by Sandy so anyone who was so inclined could deposit her pocket change, lint and all, into it.

Now, if we were truly just seeking pocket change, a quarter here, a dime there, maybe the odd dollar, how is it that by the end of the evening we counted an astonishing $114? Because someone, who I assume would prefer to remain nameless since she is historically modest and humble in her generosity, brought a large amount of high-quality stash to share with the knitters with two remarkable stipulations:

1. If you were going to use the yarn to make something for Dulaan, you could have the yarn for free.
2. If you wanted to purchase the yarn—which she was selling for an obscenely modest amount of money in an effort to reduce her stash—for yourself personally, all the money paid would go directly to Dulaan, i.e, into the orange can. Voila! $114!

Thank you Modest, Humble and Generous Stash Lady and anyone who contributed to Ye Bright Orange Can of Charity. As with the money from CafePress, the money gathered in the can will be contributed directly to F.I.R.E.

And lastly, a photo of me opening a surprise gift from MaryB. Apparently when we organized the Stitch & Pitch, MaryB, as the person who purchased the block of tickets, was given a Mariners sweatshirt which said, under the Mariners logo, "Group Leader." Yesterday MaryB chose to give the sweatshirt to me in honor of my role as the "group leader" of Dulaan! MaryB, I am wearing my wonderful new sweatshirt as we speak, although—sigh—I already dripped sticky syrup on it at breakfast this morning. Oink.

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Thank you everyone for a wonderful party! We hope we can see all of you, and especially those who couldn't make it this weekend, at the Summer Dulaan 2006 Knit-In!

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

October 21, 2005

Some Things About Me(me)

(For the next coupla weeks, I'll be attending a plethora of classes and then I’m heading off for the annual knitting retreat again so posting will be spotty. However, good news—The Mysterious K does seem willing to be The Guest Blogger for at least one or two entries.)

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A coupla entries ago, I was meme-pinged by Marfa!! Thanks, Marfa! This one was fun!

10 YEARS AGO
1995, 35 years old. Working as the technical training manager for the doomed law firm. Recovering, slowly, from the unexpected-yet-kinda-not death of my mother—brought on by cussed stubborness—in April.

5 YEARS AGO
2000, 40 years old. My boss had embezzled $2 million dollars, the law firm had gone in the crapper after 108 years in business. Had landed my Worst Job Ever in tech support for an astoundingly dysfunctional stock brokerage firm. Volunteered to be laid off during a downsizing, and was—hallelujah! Bought a book on web design and HTML coding, studied it for a week and landed a job as a web editor and technical writer, where I remain, although now I am Bosslady of the (very small) department.

1 YEAR AGO
2004, 44 years old: Had just celebrated my 18th anniversary with The Mysterious K in a manner which did not, that year, happen to involve museums or ultra-ordinary plates of spageeeeeti but did involve gold jewelry. I likes me gold jewelry!

FIVE SNACKS
Chocolate, grapes, apples, crunchy Cheetos, brie and crackers, strawberry rhubarb pie, kettle corn, dried cranberries, elephants ears, donuts, Fritos, strawberries, bananas, cherry tomatoes, fried mozzarella sticks, cornbread, cherries, ice cream, brownies…Oh, you said five?

FIVE SONGS I KNOW ALL THE WORDS TO
Oh, this is going to be embarrassing.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

The Happy Birthday Song

The National Anthem

Oh, and Handel’s Messiah if I’m singing along with it. But that’s it. I’m not much of a music girl. (Although just this morning I was able to hunt down online the tune and lyrics (who knew!) for the Popcorn Song. We had sung it incessantly once on a road trip but, from that day forward, whenever we tried to sing it, it would come out as the "Maxwell House" percolating song. It was driving us both nuts.)

Update: Big Sister called me to remind me of all of our childhood songs whose lyrics I know. Among them was this gem:

"Black socks, they never get dirty,
The longer you wear them the blacker they get.
Sometimes I dream of a laundry,
But something inside me says “Don’t send them yet.”

FIVE THINGS I WOULD DO WITH $100 MILLION
Buy a “hobby farm” with a storybook yellow house with a white wraparound porch. Populate the farm with lots of animals, particularly Arabian horses, colored sporthorses like this beaut, a quarter horse for TMK, at least one pygmy goat and one miniature donkey, a corgi, and a borzoi, but no llamas, alpacas, vicuñas or sheep. I’ll leave those to the shearers and the spinners, especially after reading Cuzzin Tom's blog entry today. (Go, read it, even if you're not a regular reader of DODR. Fiber-related and too funny.)

Hire someone to manage the farm for me because I would very quickly realize the farm was a stupid idea and I couldn’t possibly manage all those animals.

Hire a housekeeper because I would very quickly realize my dream house would require a lot of colonic housecleanings, and we all know I suck at that.

Hire a cook because, well, we all know I suck at that.

Donate money to animal causes.

And the rest, believe it or not, I’d invest. I’m pretty sensible with my money. Until I stumble across a Mata Ortiz pot.

FIVE FOUR PLACES TO RUN AWAY TO
Switzerland (every bit as beautiful as the postcards, although there’s more smog than one would think)

Venice (experienced the most beautiful moment of my life there when some silver cobblestones, gold fall leaves, and the pink rays of a fall sunset came together in a mind-numblingly beautiful tableau that I will never forget)

Vienna (the art, oh, the art!)

Paris (lives up to its billing, especially at night)

FIVE(+) THINGS I WILL NEVER WEAR
A bikini, although let the record show I was skinny enough to once upon a time, then puberty happened and…well, I refer you to my snack list.

Gold lamé spandex

Double-knit polyester (Had enough of that as a child. I don’t know what my mother was thinking.)

Cat-eye glasses (Ditto. They were blue. They were awful. I was a geek among geeks.)

A leotard. Oh, my God, just the thought, especially the thin ones that invade your butt-crack.

Anything made of faux fur. Actually, anything made of real fur. (Although I did have a black bomber jacket made of rabbit fur once…until the moment I realized what I was actually wearing, and instantly sold it at a garage sale for a pittance.)

A Hallowig.

FIVE(+) FAVORITE TV SHOWS
Red Dwarf

Mr. Bean

Many of the other British comedies like Are You Being Served, As Time Goes By, Keeping Up Appearances, The Vicar of Dibley, Good Neighbors, Coupling. The list goes on.

Any newsmagazines like 60 Minutes, Twenty Twenty or 48 Hours

Currently, Surface

And my guilty pleasure: America’s Next Top Model, especially this year because one of the women is baby-butch gay, looks ridiculous with make-up on, and clomps up and down the runway like horse. What is she thinking?

Food-tv-wise, we are currently hooked on America’s Test Kitchen.

FIVE(+) BIGGEST JOYS, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Reading (and going to the Friends of the Library Sale to get yet more books)

The people who knit for Dulaan

Knitting

Frankie

Rainy afternoons with m’girl, especially days when we make challah

Dahlias

Borzoi

Horses

This blog and my Dear Readers. Seriously. And the other people who write the blogs that I read regularly. Seriously.

Ferals.

Funny phone calls with my sister, made all the more precious by the fact that we have had some difficult years. Hugs, sis!

FIVE FAVORITE TOYS (and Games. Ed.)
Camilla, my Chrysler Sebring convertible, although she can be a real pain in the tuckus.

TMK’s Playstation II

The Net

Cranium

Cribbage

Scrabble

FIVETWO PEOPLE I WILL TAG WITH THIS MEME:
TMK! (Hey, you SAID you thought the memes were fun—and I thought you might need some inspiration.)

And, for a lark, Cuzzin Tom. (No obligation, Cuzz, but I thought you might find it fun.)

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Everyone, please join me in wishing Nathania a fairy tale wedding and a long and happy life with her honey. They are getting married tomorrow!!!

Lastly, proof that I have been knitting, the finished SuperDeeDuper Ultimate Extreme Over-the-Top Cascade 220 Stashbusting Dulaan Scarf:

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Posted by Ryan at 11:05 AM | Comments (18)

October 19, 2005

Ryan Regains Control

Phew! Order has been restored to the universe. I have wrested control of the blog back from The Mysterious K with a minimum of bodily harm to either party—although a few priceless Ming vases were shattered along the way—and this blog entry is being written on a PC, as it should be. "Macs rule," indeed. Harrumph.

But, really, thank you to Ms. Mysterious for filling in for me while I was learning how to take the web-design world by storm. I think she liked it more than she's willing to admit...and practically burned out the Refresh button on her Mac. The good news is she may have more opportunities to post next week, if she’s up to the challenge… What say, Dear Readers?

Yes, the Tiffany exhibit was outstanding, if you don’t count the witchy old lady who crabbed at us Not To Touch when we…well…weren’t. I have to say, museum guards are really Up There on my list, along with people who don’t pick up their doggie poop and The Guy Whose Truck Has Been Taking Up All Three Parking Spaces In Front Of My House For The Last Few Weeks Because He Parked It a Little Too Close to the Tree Behind Yet a Little Too Close to the Mailboxes in Front. There’s a special feeling of awe, silence and reverence that accompanies being at a perfect museum exhibit, that accompanies being surrounded by unparalleled beauty and genius (enhanced, of course, by the smug and holier-than-thou feeling of doing something edumacational) and then, wham!, a guard comes along and makes you feel small and stupid. I hate that. Hate. It.

Witchy Old Museum Guards aside, as I said in a comment, you locals, if you get a chance to go, go! Folks from Vancouver, WA—come up. Folks from Vancouver, B.C.—come down. Folks from Eastern Washington—come left. Folks from the Peninsula—come right. Some amazing, beautiful stuff. Stained glass is just the tip of the iceberg. You have no idea.

And the dinner was great, too...although there was a moment when I realized that, although I had ordered something with a high-class-sounding name—something like Tagliatelle a la Salsa Bolognese Fresca e Semplice—I had actually ordered...spaghetti. A special anniversary dinner at one of the fanciest Italian restaurants in town, and I order...spaghetti. Sure, the noodles were flatter and wider than I'm used to and, sure, the sauce was particularly rich and meaty and the flavors perfectly blended and, sure, the presentation was bellisima, but you can’t fool me. It was spaghetti (or, as we've called it ever since we saw it mispelled on a roadside sign, "spageeeti.")

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cameltoasties.jpgAn Anniversary Disclaimer: If I were Someone On the Outside, I would look at the photo of TMK’s new Typing Toasties and think, 19 years and all she gets are some lame-o, baby-sh_t brown fingerless mittens?! Let The Record Show that TMK requested the lame-o baby-sh_t brown fingerless mittens, or, more specifically, MongoLEEan camel yarn fingerless mittens...which happen to come in only MongoLEEan camel color, which happens to be...you guessed it.

How was the yarn to knit with? Well, that in itself was a saga. In the ball, the yarn feels nicely soft, quasi-merino-ish. When I started to knit with it, however, I discovered that it was chock full of pieces of Gobi Desert grass—which was actually quite enchanting. I mean, how many knitters get to pick little pieces of Gobi frickin’ Desert grass out of yarn spun from the hair of a Gobi frickin' Desert camel?! And the picking of the grass continued to be enchanting until I realized that the combination of the slight roughness of the fiber, the small, sharp pieces of dry grass, the fact that I am a tight knitter, the unorthodox and convoluted way that I hold the yarn in my right hand, and the action of rapidly pulling the yarn up and over and around my fingers caused the yarn to actually cut right into my skin like a miniscule bandsaw. Ow. Many applications of bacitracin (or, as my sister calls it, “basset razzin”) and Band-Aids were required.

The yarn redeemed itself, however, when I washed it. The first mitten, which I just washed in dish detergent, came out quite acceptably soft. The second, which I washed in dish detergent and rinsed in a very rich conditioner, came out about 25% softer. But, alas, still babysh_t brown. I think I see a dye vat in the mittens’ future, if I can wrest them back from TMK, who has thoroughly and completely proclaimed them hers forever 'n' ever.

As for me, I was given a beautiful pair of gold earrings. Which I wore Saturday while I was being crabbed at by Witchy Lady, while I was gaping breathless at yet one more piece of amazing stained glass, and while I was showing how cosmopolitan I am by ordering spaghetti. And Sunday while the challah rose, I knit, and TMK played Sly Cooper. And Monday while I learned all about the mind-boggling intricacies of cascading style sheets. And Tuesday when I spent the day wishing I were back in class, at the museum, at the restaurant ordering spaghetti, or knitting. And today, ditto.

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Knit-In
I emailed everyone a flyer with the details of the Knit-In. If you didn’t receive it, or have any questions, please let me know. The number one thing we need are folding chairs to accommodate the 27 (!) people who responded.

Posted by Ryan at 09:47 AM | Comments (17)

October 17, 2005

We Control the Vertical, We Control the Horizontal

Shhhh! TMK here. Don’t tell Ryan, but I’ve taken over Mossy Cottage. She left to go to a class today so I grabbed her mouse and ran. I’m feeling the power. Oh, yeah. And just to show you how much power I really have...I posted on Sunday! (Really, I was afraid to do this without Someone walking me through it. I didn't want to blow the blog up with the superior power of The Mac.)

Hmmm. Now that I have your attention, what to say, what to say…

Over the weekend, we celebrated our 19th anniversary!

Ryan is ga-ga over stained glass and the Seattle Art Museum is having an exhibition of Tiffany glass, so it seemed like a great anniversary activity. Off we went to SAM to look at Tiffany pieces and git us some culture. It was way more interesting than I thought it would be. Turns out Tiffany was driven to be creative. Dude painted, created ironwork, designed glass with a million different textures and treatments, designed jewelry, carved wood (I mean seriously carved wood), designed wallpaper, lighting fixtures. And, oh yeah, stained glass. I don’t know when he had time to sleep let alone pay attention to his wife!

The museum in downtown Seattle is in a fairly new building. It used be part of a beautiful Olmsted-designed park in an older Seattle neighborhood. A few years ago, a property tax levy passed (we hates levies) and the city built a gleaming new art museum, complete with the several-story-high Hammering Man. He represents the “working man” so he hammers 24 hours a day except on Labor Day.

We’ve missed the one interesting exhibit they had, Da Vinci…because we were too lazy to go downtown and see it. So when we saw that the Tiffany exhibit was starting the same weekend as our anniversary, well, it seemed like it was meant to be.

And I lucked out because they happened to have a Frederic Church exhibit going on as well (we likes Frederic Church). He paints the most amazing clouds and skies! (Ryan thinks I’m nuts because I hate pulling over at rest stops for potty breaks but I’ll pull over in the middle of nowhere to take a picture of a cloud.)

So, after taking in SAM, we had some time to kill before going to dinner. So we wandered around downtown doing some window shopping and being amazed at the changes. We both used to work downtown and know our way around. But with all the construction in the last few years, it’s easy to lose your bearings. It’s starting to turn into one of those places that the sun never touches because the buildings are all so tall.

Then…dinner! At the best Italian restaurant ever, Il Fornaio. I swear my Sicilian grandmother has been reincarnated in their kitchen. Their food smells so good and tastes so good, it’s more like eating memories than food. And the ambiance is just romantic enough without going over the top. When our waiter brought us our dessert, there was a candle in it. So nice!

As an anniversary gift I received these!

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A pair of Mongolian Camel Wool typing toasties made by Miss R. herself. I’m feeling quite smug knowing I have the only MongoLEEan Camel Wool typing toasties anywhere!

Sunday, we woke up to a pea soup sky and leaves blowing off the trees. So we stayed in. And made challah. Us, the Episcopalian and the Catholic. It was mah-ve-lous! Frankie also approved.

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Turns out, challah has to rise three times, before you bake it, so we had a few hours to kill. Ryan spent a lot of time going through her bag of Cascade 220, which seems to multiplying instead of reducing, while trying to decide what her next project would be. I peeked. I think she’s making multi-colored kid socks for Dulaan. What did I do? I battled evil all afternoon with my buddy Sly Cooper and his Band of Thieves.

I now return control of the blog back to you knitters.

(Macs rule!)

Posted by Ryan at 06:43 PM | Comments (26)

October 14, 2005

June Cleaver I am Not

Oh, hi. Sorry…just having an extremely juvenile moment here. The DJ on the country music station I listened to on the way into work mistakenly called the song that’d just played, “Boot Scootin’ Boobie.” Boobie. Tee, hee, hee.

cleaning.GIFShort entry today, Dear Readers, because, instead of knitting, I’ve been doing the house-cleaning equivalent of a colonic, cleaning from the absolute inside out. I cleaned the space between my counter and the refrigerator which hasn’t seen the light of day in thirteen years. Euw. I cleaned “Mordor,” the space between my stove and my portable dishwasher where I dropped the grilled cheese sandwich. Double euw. I cleaned the inside of my microwave. I scrubbed my shower. I dusted. All of which went painfully slowly because I have to make sure not to kill any spiders. Seriously. I sweep up a pile of dust, I check it for spiders, especially baby ones. If there is one, I put it outside or I leave the pile until the spiders have hied themselves off to a new home. Which means that the simple act of sweeping my kitchen floor can take two, three hours. (Anyone groaning, or rolling their eyes at me? I know TMK is. I know Cuzzin Tom is not. He gets the spider thing.)

Colonic housecleanings are further complicated by the fact that I don’t have a handheld shower which means that I rinse the shower walls by heaving a containerful of hot water at them, which immediately splashes off the walls and lands on my face or in my hair or in my shoes. Joy.

I’ve also discovered the horrible truth that the Secret Colonic Housecleaning Society doesn't want you to know, that this type of cleaning makes your house look a million times worse than it did when you started because all of the things in, under, or on The Areas to Be Cleaned have to be moved somewhere else, resulting in great chaos and clutter. How does this housecleaning stuff work exactly? Perhaps someone who colonic housecleans more than once a year or doesn’t have a spot in their house that can be likened to Tolkien’s source of all evil can explain it to me.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel, not because I'm anywhere near being done, but because I get to run away to TMK's house for the weekend and leave the worsening clutter far behind. Besides, Saturday we are celebrating our 19th anniversary, first, by going the Tiffany exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum and then going to the Bestest, Fanciest Italian Restaurant Ever Which, Curiously, Is Still Reasonably Priced, Il Fornaio. Yay!

dulaan2006.jpgOn the Dulaan front, we have heard from Meredith!! (For you recent additions to the Dulaan family, Meredith is the Executive Director of F.I.R.E.) She reports that she is still in Mongolia and plans to return to Flagstaff on October 24th. She had some complications with customs and has had to spend more time in Mongolia than she expected but she also reports that she did get some photos of the handknitted items being distributed, so I am very excited.

Lastly, on a very serious note, although I’m sure this is winging its way through the blogvine the blindingly fast way things do, Stephanie has suffered the sudden and tragic loss of an unimaginably dear and close family friend. If you are so inclined, please go let her know you are thinking of her. You will find that she writes as eloquently about her grief as she does about her day to day life and her love of knitting.

(Since I will be in class all day Monday, learning just enough about cascading style sheets to be dangerous, rumor has it that Mossy Cottage may have a guest blogger that day. Come'on by!)

Posted by Ryan at 11:01 AM | Comments (22)

October 12, 2005

Adding to Your Edumacation

For someone who has no interest whatsoever in actually learning how to knit, Cuzzin Tom has certainly immersed himself in the history and the culture of knitting, especially as it relates to MongoLEEans. For example, he recently sent me this excerpt from The Desert Road to Turkestan, written by Owen Lattimore, and published in 1929. I tease, I tease, Cuzz, but, really, this was good stuff!

camel.GIF“The idle weeks of the ‘herding camp,’ as it is called, are the best for the men as well as the camels. The men are given leave in turn to go to their homes, and even in camp extra men are taken on to help with the herding, and the regular men do only one day’s herding and one night on watch, followed by five to seven days “easy.” During this time they are busy with the curious pastime of knitting. The trade in camels’ wool or hair, as it is indifferently called, is new, and has been developed entirely by the encouragement of foreign merchants. Younghusband, in 1887, observed that the trade was just beginning. A picul of camel hair was then worth about taels 5.00 in Tientsin. It is now worth as much as taels 70.00 for a picul of 133 pounds. Before the foreign demand, the hair shed by camels used to be left to blow about the desert, sometimes rolling into huge balls. A camel sheds on the average about six pounds of hair, with another pound and a half or two pounds of coarser, less valuable hair from the mane and the bunches of hair above the knees, on the forelegs.

“Knitting is a newer thing still. The caravan men say that they learned it from the White Russian soldiers deported from Chinese Turkestan. Some hundreds of these men were sent down to the coast, divided into small parties traveling with different caravans, and their way of knitting and crocheting socks was eagerly learned by the camel men. All of the hair from the camel herd belongs, of course, prescriptively to the owner, but in fact he loses a great deal of this because it has become a perquisite of the men to use as much as they like for making socks for themselves. They never steal the hair to sell in town, but they do make a lot of extra things on the quiet, which they sell. Long scarves knitted or crocheted by camel men were all the fashion among the richer Chinese at Kuei-hua when I was there. When we first started, many of the camels had not finished shedding, and it was an amazing thing to see men knitting on the march; if they ran out of yarn they would reach back to the camel of the file they were leading, pluck a handful of hair from the neck, and roll it in their palms into the beginning of a length of yarn; a weight was attached to this, and given a twist to start it spinning, and the man went on feeding wool into the thread until he had spun enough yarn to continue his knitting.”

Er, apropos of nothing, Cuzz, I thought you’d be interested in this page on the FBI web site.

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Thank you everyone for the kudos on the Superdeeduper Ultimate Extreme Over-the-Top Cascade 220 Stashbusting Dulaan Scarf. You can imagine how easy it is to knit! The quick 'n' dirty specs are:

  • Any leftover balls of Cascade 220 or similar worsted weight yarn (in my case, I was able to knit 11 colored stripes before I had to repeat)
  • A leftover ball of black Cascade 220 (or similar worsted yaddayaddayadda)
  • Size 6 needles
  • 30 stitches
  • First and last eight rows and leftmost and rightmost six stitches in seed stitch. The rest in stockinette.
  • The colored stripes are about 1.5 inches long, which works out to 12 rows (for me, anyway, the World's Tightest Knitter)
  • The black stripes are four rows.
  • The scarf is only about 6" wide but it's meant for a wee one.

And don't let the thought of weaving in all those ends deter you, Norma. They're actually a great excuse to take a break when your hands are tired of knitting but you're not ready to give up on all fiber-fondling for the evening. Besides, don't forget how noble weaving in ends can make you feel when you're actually just farting around on the couch watching "Surface."

Posted by Ryan at 10:26 AM | Comments (14)

October 10, 2005

Oh, Rats!

If you don’t include finding a rat living in one of TMK’s bird houses, this weekend was remarkably quiet. Which is how I had the time to knit half of the front of a Guidepost sweater, stand up, walk into the kitchen, and summarily toss it and the remaining yarn into the garbage can because I realized the sweater felt like cardboard or, worse, slightly gummy cardboard, and that the more I knit, the more cardboard I was creating, and that no child, no matter how desperate or cold, should spend one hour wearing a piece of gummy cardboard.

Which then freed me up to start working on the Superdeeduper Ultimate Extreme Over the Top Cascade 220 Stashbusting Dulaan Scarf:

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This scarf is the one thing I will have trouble putting in the Dulaan box. I lerv it. I want it. I wanna keep it. But I won’t. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Because, I repeat, the weekend was quiet and because work has gotten insanely busy, today’s entry will be short and unimaginative. I will, however, leave you with a funny link. Robbyn’s acquisition of three new gerbils has led a lot of her commenters, ever the creative crafters, to discuss hamster and gerbil clothing. Which led me to find this (lots of photos; may take a long time to load). My faves, the gerbil with the wedding veil actually over its face and the one of "Lilly" sitting up.

P.S. Speaking of gerbils, hamsters and other rodents, by way of gentle but firm and unrelenting poking with the business end of a rake, the rat was strongly encouraged to go live elsewhere. Which was when he leapt straight out at us from the bird box. But then he skittered away, having expended all of his bravado in one giant leap and basically having peed his little rat pants. But we don't care; we will not be making him any replacement pants. Or, if it was a girl rat, anything with a veil.

Posted by Ryan at 10:43 AM | Comments (15)

October 07, 2005

Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.

spaceinvaders2.JPGI’m inordinately proud of my most recent FO, a hat based on my Mafrash Pattern—now renamed the Ram’s Horn Pattern because, (a) let’s face it, “mafrash” is just downright unattractive (en par with, oh, “spoor” or “uvula” or “phlegm” or “rectum”), and (b) because, according to my research, the main motif has something to do with rams’ horns and virility and machismo and dragging women to your cave by their hair and...oh, let’s just say it, penises, apparently curly ones. Not that I want to celebrate the Neanderthalian “crush a beer can on your forehead” mentality but I do want to, pardon the pun, tip my hat to the history and culture behind the original inspiration for the pattern. (The pattern came very close, however, to being named the “Space Invader Hat” because the main motif looks a whole heckuvalot more like the alien attackers in the old arcade game than a ram’s horn, does it not?)

The original inspiration for the hat:

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The hat:

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Ultimately the hat didn’t really work because, well, what is with that nerdy flare at the bottom? And I decreased too sharply at the top, but that’s what I get for assuming the decrease that works for one 92-stitch hat will automatically work for another 92-stitch hat when the yarn weight, the needle size and the circumference are completely different. Another knitting lesson learned (like: The holes in the sweater front are not mistakes; they are button holes that you are deliberately making, you ninny).

On the positive side, this is the first stranded-knitting project I designed 100% from scratch. One could argue that I “designed” my Janine Pillow but the truth is Janine’s pattern spoon-fed me all the specs, and all I did was cobble together existing charted motifs from books. (In fact, Janine even picked out the colors of yarn for me. I believe the extent of my contribution was to say things like, “Oooo, pretty.” And sighing, “Janine, when I grow up, I want to be just like you.”) For this pattern, however, I started with nothing more than a picture of the main motif, and had to work my way up from there—although to give credit where credit is due, Ms. TMK herself suggested the beautiful black and terra cotta! Thanks and smooches to all my Feral peeps for giving me the know-how and courage to get from “there” to “here.” It really is possible for knitting with both hands simultaneously to become second nature. Who knew?

(Poop. In deleting some spam from my blog, I deleted some of the legit comments from my last entry. My apologies to anyone whose comments I deleted. I did get to read them before my apparently uncontrollable Flying Fickle Finger of Fate made them disappear. $%^#@!@#! spammers.)

Posted by Ryan at 10:00 AM | Comments (22)

October 05, 2005

Bag Lady

In the interests of on-the-fly Dulaan stashbuster knitting, and because I live a weirdly nomadic life, dividing my time between the office (8 hours a day), my car (2 hours day), my house (weeknights), and The Mysterious K’s (weekends), I’ve been lugging around with me one of those crinkly supermarket sacks crammed to bursting with all of my Cascade 220 odds and ends (actually, this is bag #2 since “crammed to bursting” proved to be not an exaggeration for bag #1). Which was all well and fine until Monday morning when I semi-squashed the overly full bag into my knitting tote and set both on the front passenger seat of my car. At some point during my commute, I had to hit the brakes hard…and small, medium and large balls of brightly colored yarn immediately ping-ponged all over the inside of my car. Sigh. Maybe there is something to Washington state’s “click it or ticket” law after all, despite the fact that the catchphrase is woefully stomach-turning. I always wear a seatbelt, but perhaps it's time for my knitting bag to sport one, too. (A thought just occurred—thank God none of my windows were open!)

(To make matters worse, when I arrived at work, my phone was ringing. It was TMK calling to report that, even before I had gotten got into the car, and long before a single ball had caromed off my dashboard, I had dropped, a la Hansel and Gretel’s fabled trail of crumbs, a trail of Cascade 220 balls behind me on her driveway.)

(To make matters even worse, normally I would have just left the balls lying where they were and shepherded them all back into the bag (or maybe, genius that I am, a bigger bag that they actually fit in) after I got home but, that day of all days, a friend asked me to drive her to the mechanic's, so at 8:05am, you would have seen me wedged into the passenger side of my car, plumber’s crack most likely showing, groaning and grunting and sighing as I groped around in all the dark corners of my car trying to find that one last ball of yarn and praying to God that something gross wasn’t stuck in it.)

These travails aside, The Lugging Around of the Mini-Stash has worked well since this weekend, although I was at TMK’s abode and far away from The Holy and Revered MotherStash, I was able to spontaneously churn out these:

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And this:

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The checkerboard socks are from this fun and easy pattern. They took about 4 hours total to make, blocked out nicely and proportionately, and look like they would fit a 1-2 year old. I’m tempted to make just a huge rainbow-y pile of these.

The little hat pattern is from here. Super simple, super easy, although all I had with me was size 10 needles when the pattern calls for size 13s, which meant that the hat turned out quite small—newborn, maybe even preemie size—but it’s adorable, and took about 1.5 hours to knit. (Update: Churned out another one last night using size 13s, which came out to loose and floppy so I felted it, which, dang it all, made it become too short. I think this pattern has a lot of felting potential if I just knit more than the 20 rows stated in the pattern, maybe 30.)

Hey, rumor has it Dulaan has been mentioned in Vogue Knitting again! True?

The First 2006 Dulaan Knit-In

We have reached full capacity for the Knit-In. MaryB has a few people that RSVP'd directly to her, and on my list I have:

Devorah
Andrea
June
Perclexed
Rebecca Long
Rebecca Supergirl
LindaK
Lisa from Oregon
Kim
Karen
Patti
Elaine
Libby
Irina
MaryB, me, TMK and perhaps TMK's mother! (Hi, Marilyn!)

MaryB and I will be sending out address and direction information soon. I am so looking forward to this!

Posted by Ryan at 11:17 AM | Comments (9)

October 03, 2005

Day Three of Grandpa's Endless Slideshow

Good Lord! Who knew it would take as many days to post these entries as the vacation was long! Either we did a lot in Arizona or I’m extremely long-winded. (Uh, no comments from those of you who know me, especially from you, Cuzz…) The good news is that the slide projector is starting to overheat and should go on the fritz very soon.

Tuesday
Our Grand Plan for Tuesday was to drive to the Painted Desert and the Crater Thingy, a Holy Grail of mine for a long time. But we had been doing a hellacious amount of driving over the previous three days and, besides, we hadn’t had a chance to tour Sedona itself and bless the tacky tourist shops with a liberal infusion of our untold wealth (har, har). And a further besides, we weren’t overly impressed by the Crater Thingy’s web site, and we learned that the Crater Thingy was privately owned and controlled, which meant that how/when/where you can actually hike to and see into the crater itself was a little iffy. So shopping it was.

We learned very quickly that the two sides of the main shopping drag in Sedona are identical, almost as if only one side were developed and then a giant hand wielding a ginormous mouse copied it, rotated it, and pasted it to the other side. In fact, a coupla companies seem to own every single store on the strip, which means that Store A sells e-xactly the same thing as Store B which sells e-xactly the same thing as Store C which sells e-xactly... In fact, after a while it started to feel as if there were only one set of clerks for the entire town who would magically disappear from whatever store we had just left and rematerialize in the store we were just entering. Spookay!

We did, however, find a coupla good stores, and, if you are ever headed Sedona-way, I strongly recommend dropping in at “Uniquely Southwest.” They carry beautiful, legitimate, high-end yet not overly expensive pottery, rugs and jewelry that respect and celebrate the beauty and spirit of Native American art. No glow-in-the-dark kokopellis, no candy cleverly marketed as antelope poop, no velvet paintings of the red rocks and a whirling vortex. Besides, it’s where I fulfilled a dream that I didn’t even know I had: I purchased a piece of black-on-black Mata Ortiz pottery. (Now, watch me very deftly relate all of this to knitting: The only reason I knew about Mata Ortiz pottery was because I stumbled across it a couple of years ago when surfing the Net for South American textile patterns I could translate into knitting (much as a did with the Turkish Mafrash pattern). Ta-da!)

mataortiz.jpg

After a few hours of shopping, we were sorely in need of a break, partly because it was hot and humid and partly because TMK was starting to succumb to the Headcold That Ate New York. (See, TMK works at home alone. Which means she is rarely exposed to the various germs that the rest of us, who work in buildings with questionable ventilation and air-filtration systems, are bombarded with every day. So, take someone with a quasi-boy-in-the-bubble immune system, slap her on an airplane with 138 other people, make her breathe moist, germ-laden air for 2.5 hours, and you’ve got a recipe for respiratory disease. Happens. Every. Time. Although she gave as good as she got on the trip home. By now, the Headcold That Ate New York has probably traveled to all four corners of the earth. Yeah!)

So, what to do, what to do... I know! Let’s hunt up a coffee shop, have coffee (TMK) and a strawberry smoothie (moi), and then play King of the Mountain with Mongol LEE.

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Okay, well that killed 11.5 minutes. Again, what to do, what to do...Oooo, I know; I know! How about an extreme Hummer ride? Which is how at 2:30 in the afternoon, you would have found TMK, me, and our tour guide Mr. Ed jouncing and bouncing our way up and over and through some of the rougher parts of the Sedona countryside. I do believe I even went “Wheeeeeeeeeeee!” a coupla of times as my tushie flew off the seat. It was a blast.

roughroad.jpg

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(And yes, we blurred out TMK’s face just to annoy, giggling all the while. The truth is, 2.5 years into the blog, she really doesn’t care if anyone sees her face, but it’s become A Thing and when something becomes A Thing, even the blogmistress has no control over it.)

We ended the day with Lunchable-equivalents, lots of resting and for TMK, liberal consumption of Airborne.

-----------------

Wednesday
A day or two before we left Seattle, I received an unexpected email from a very good friend of Cuzzin Tom’s who generously and hospitably invited us to spend Wednesday with her and the Cuzz in the small town of Jerome, where she and her husband live and which is about ½ an hour outside of Sedona. Since we already had plans to take the Verde Canyon train that afternoon, which leaves from another town very close to Jerome, we jigsaw-puzzled the day together, spending the morning and evening in Jerome, and the afternoon on the train.

Here, Mongol LEE learns something historical about Jerome:

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Here, Mongol LEE proves that we did indeed visit at least one yarn store while in Arizona, Knit One Bead Two.

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Here, a photo of the Jerome tourist office. No, it’s not your imagination, the sign is almost as large as the actual office.

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At about 12:30, after a quick but fun tour of Jerome and a great lunch which, thank you, Jesus!, did not include Lunchables, TMK and I headed off for the train and 4-hour trip through red rock canyons.

Mongol LEE enjoying the train ride, even though some fresh strumpet is squeezing his felted butt.

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Proof that the train comes vewy, vewy close to the canyon walls.

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A picture of the open-air cars where you could stand to get a good view.

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Sadly, at the end of the train trip, Mongol LEE was carried off by a giant bald eagle. But we didn’t care because we had an evening of homemade fajitas, watermelon, and camaraderie waiting for us in Jerome.

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Sarah, if you’re out there, thank you for playing tour guide for us and the wonderful dinner!

Friday
Back to Phoenix, where we spent half an hour lost in a very scary part of town looking for the airport, and home to Seattle and Frankie, who was not very happy to see us, because she was perfectly happy right where she was, thank you very much.

(Side note: Cuzzin Tom has revved up his blog again. Hoo-ah!)

Posted by Ryan at 11:25 AM | Comments (21)