February 28, 2007

Watch the Birdy!

(Aggravating commute.

Curtains of gray, oily rain sploodging down my windshield.

Heavy, slow, looky-loo traffic on the bridge, thanks to an accident coming the other way.

Exhaust fumes filling the car.

Feeling tired, a little bleary-eyed.

Wondering if radio stations play anything but commercials.

...

Bald eagle sitting on a lamppost.

Aaaaah. All’s right with the world.)

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In honor of Stephanie, if any of these words...

Color
Fiber
Canceled
Woolen
Labor
Check
Centre
Draft
Donut
Behavior

appear in today’s blog entry, they will be spelled, with great defiance, the Canadian/British way. (I'd like to think that I come by the use of these spellings legitimately since I spent my high school years in post-Colonial Singapore and thus used copious Britishisms and spelled everything the "British" way for years...until I became a technical writer and lost a bloody and violent spelling battle with the American version of Microsoft Word. I bear the scars to this day.)

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To wrap up my Saturday adventures, after my unexpected side trip to the wilds of Mongolia with 65 Girl Scouts, and with my precious Shrinky Dink magnet clutched firmly in my hand, I headed off to yet another Dulaan event—a knit-in hosted by a local yarn fibre shop, Hilltop Yarn East. About ten knitters—most of whom I didn’t know, which made it all the more fun—gathered around a table, did a little bit of "gettin' to know ya'", and munched on mutton, goat cheese, salted tea, boortsog...I mean, crackers, cheese, cold cuts and fruit, as a pile of finished Dulaan items grew in the centre of the table. And I believe a little bit of accidental shopping happened. How else do you explain the skein of Cascade 220 Lichen Heather which didn’t arrive with me but was certainly burning a hole in my knapsack when I left?

(Thank you, Becky and Hilltop East staff for supporting Dulaan in this generous way. Let me know when the next gala will be and I’ll try to be there!)

Then, exhausted, and filled with Dulaan goodwill up to my eyebrows, I tootled home to my girls, one of whom had a cold, and one of whom had had surgery on her hip to remove a cyst. I’ll let you figure out which one was which. (Not to give anything away, although this totally will—our vet charges for surgery by the minute. Holy Toledo, Batman! Mel, is that normal?)

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Ever since the 222 designers-to-be of the Abbdar pattern decided that Abbdar is a gansey-like hat in earth-tone colors, I’ve been trying to make this vision—cloudy as it is—into a reality. Due to my questionable designing skills—and my inability to visualize anything (just ask TMK; she will be more than happy to tell you)—I’m hitting various roadblocks, to wit:

One of the commenters said that the word “Abbdar” felt “Egyptian” to her, verbalizing a vague feeling I’d been having all along. Yes, very definitely Egyptian. So, continuing on with this lunacy of designing a knitted item based on a nonsense word, I went online to find a few likely Egyptian motifs. I snagged a coupla geometric motifs from a sarcophagus or two, charted up something very off-the-cuff...

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and churned out a swatch (not in the final colour, obviously)...

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...which looks exactly like the Parthenon. Greek. Very Greek. Not Egyptian at all. In fact, there isn’t the faintest whiff of Egyptian about this design.

Back to my papyrus, my sharpened reed dipped in ink, and my mud-brick shack by the Nile. Now, what was the hieroglyph for “purl?”

Posted by Ryan at 10:46 AM | Comments (25)

February 26, 2007

For Cuzzin Tom

(Picture-heavy post, Dear Readers!)

I spent Saturday morning at a local church with 65 Girl Scouts and their troop leaders. Me. Church. 65 Girl Scouts. Has the world gone mad? But it was Girl Scout “World Thinking Day” and, thanks to Dear Reader Saralyn, the Girl Scout troops involved had chosen to dedicate their day to learning about Mongolia and to making blankets for the Mongolian people. Which made it a Dulaan event. Which meant I needed to be there. And I am so glad I went.

Granted, at first I was Scroogily skeptical about how things would play out. After all, how were the Scout leaders going to get 65 restless, energetic, giggling, chattering Girl Scouts of various ages to focus on, think about, learn about and care about people in a country that three years ago even I, erstwhile world traveler that I am, had barely heard of? But they pulled it off. And in the most remarkable way.

To start, the girls stood around in a circle while various Scouts recited facts about Mongolia. (Who knew that, in the entire country, Mongolia has fewer people than we have in Seattle and environs?) Then the Scouts that had provided the food described what they had brought and why. (It killed me when they said they had made everything small so it would be easier for the nomads to carry.) Here, crackers, goat cheese and deep-fried boortsog cookies (although I have no idea how the can of squirty cheese fits into the traditional Mongolian diet):

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And tea with salt…er, minus the salt to appeal to our American palates:

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And printouts of recipes:

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Next, a rousing round of “Feed it or Eat it?,” a game in which a Scout held up these posters and the girls guessed if the animal was something the Mongolians would feed or eat. (Yes, Cuzzin, that is a picture of a marmot. The girls had done their homework! And, yes, the answer to the horse picture was “both.” And, yes, all the Girl Scouts said, “Euuuuuuuuw!”)

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Next, the girls broke up into four groups and went to four different stations to participate in Mongolia-related activities. At Station #1, they watched the YouTube videos about Mongolia and Dulaan:

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At station #2, they made Shrinky Dink magnets out of maps of Mongolia. A Shrinky Dink before it was cut, colored and put in the oven...

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...and a finished magnet made by Girl Scout Elizabeth.

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Me, showing off my magnet, my first Shrinky Dink ever. It’s ironic, is it not, that the end result of my running a Mongolian charity-knitting project would be an American cultural experience?

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At Station #3, in order to teach the girls that you can’t go to school in Mongolia unless you have proper clothing, they had relay races where the girls had to bundle up in winter clothes, to the point where they looked like tiny Michelin men, run to the end of the hall, and take all the winter clothes off. It was hysterical. There was much tripping over pant legs.

At Station #4, they played knucklebones (or shagai as a quick search on the Net tells me) with fake sheep ankle bones made out of shaped and oven-dried clay. (The girls reported that they tried to get the real thing from a butcher but no go. Given the delicate sensibilities of some of the mothers, this was probably a good thing.)

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I manned an extra “side station” where I displayed enlargements of blog photos showing the Mongolians, some of the many items the Dulaan Brigade has sent over the years, pictures of "our" happy children and “our” cria. The photos were a hit!

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Then the girls got down to the serious business of making the fringed fleece blankets. For security reasons, I’m not posting any pictures of the girls, but I did take one wonderful one of all the young ‘uns sitting cross-legged on the floor, heads bowed over their blankets. By that time, believe you me, the Scrooge in me was loooooong gone. Here, the ten finished blankets, soon to be on their way to Arizona:

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What a day.

Wednesday—the other Dulaan event I attended on Saturday, plus an update on Abbdar!

Avalanche Yarn

I had a good 40 or 50 requests for Avalanche yarn. Wow! Right now, I can, obviously, only accommodate the first 10 requestors, those being:

Pat Packer
Carrie Garrod
Rachel Debasitis
Lynn in Tuscon
Mary Barnett
Elizabeth Durand
Angie Marshall (3 boxes)
Jessica Cooper

If your name is not on this list, you are on a waiting list. Since the waiting list is so long, however, I doubt very much I’ll be able to accommodate everyone but I will keep you updated as we go along.

Posted by Ryan at 02:17 PM | Comments (18)

February 21, 2007

Reigniting the Dulaan Fire!

(No posting on Friday, Dear Readers. The classroom beckoneth yet again.)

Dulaan 10,000 or Bust
Kudos and smooches to the “Dulaan 10,000 or Bust” participants who conscientiously send me emails as they finish their five…or six…or seven…or, in the case of Janet Elliott, 65 (!!!) items. As of this weekend, these additional—and completely and utterly awesome—knitters have been marked Done on the "Dulaan 10,000 or Bust” list, bringing us to 108 people done, 540+ items knit:

Abby Bush
Ann in PA
Anne Podlesak
Ariel/Stariel
Barbara Coley
Carol Proctor
Chelsea Dinsmore
Christine in Kent
Danby Ludgate
Diane Wise
Donna Schmidt
Elizabeth Galle
Holly
Janet Elliott
Jennifer Dale
Joyce Fitzgerald
Kary Miksis
Kathryn Mascall
Kelly
Laura Donovan
Leanne Cooper
Mary Lou Egan
Patti Blaine
Rachel Folk
Sandy Soreng
Sheri Roy

If I’ve left anyone out, please let me know. Remember, if you finish your five (or more) items, you can participate in the drawing in June!

CafePress
Thanks to TMK and her rare combination of design-y and techie skills, we have launched CafePress for 2007. The products we are selling this year display this image, one of the most popular, on the front…

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…and will have the Dulaan logo on the back. As always, 100% of the profits from CafePress will go to F.I.R.E. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I've ordered some of these items myself and have been greatly pleased with the quality. Please help us help F.I.R.E. get three containers shipped to Mongolia this year instead of the usual two!

Avalanche Yarn
I’ve finally foisted as much of the Avalanche yarn off on local knitters as I can (it’s been much like getting rid of homegrown zucchini during the height of the summer growing season) and am ready to start shipping a few boxes out to anyone else who is interested. As you can see, the burly, sweaty guys in my warehouse have been working hard getting the boxes ready to ship:

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If you have didn’t see my earlier posts about the Avalanche Yarn, it is a bulky, medium-quality (not soft but not harsh either) 100% wool yarn donated to Dulaan by Rosemary Hallgarten. It's referred to as "Avalanche Yarn" because they sent me an avalanche—1,000+ skeins!—of yarn.

Here is how this is gonna work:

1. To keep myself having to guess how much something is going to cost to mail, from having to make a zillion trips to the post office, and from getting all fang-flashing surly, I’m using the post office’s all-you-can-fit-for-one-price box and am cramming as much yarn into the boxes as I can. After much scientific and scholarly study, I have determined that nine skeins fit in one box. This means you will be purchasing nine skeins (approximately 60 yards each, 540 yards total) for a flat shipping price of $8.10. (FYI, 9 skeins is enough to make 9 Avalanche Hats or two Avalanche Vests with one skein left over.)

For this set price, I can only ship within the United States.

2. Each box will contain at least some gold or mustard yarn since it is what I have the most of. Here are two pictures showing representative contents of the boxes. The first shows a collection of mustard, terra cotta and silver; the second shows a collection of gold, red, and liver brown. The other boxes contain similar but slightly different collections.

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3. I currently have 10 boxes to ship. They will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. If you are interested in receiving one of the boxes, please email me. If you are one of the first ten, I will email you back to get your address and give you mine. As soon as I receive your check for $8.10, I will mail your box out.

I will be putting together more boxes in the near future so I'll keep a waiting list of the people who are interested but weren’t able to squeek onto the list of the first ten.

A reminder: Due to a tax agreement between Rosemary Hallgarten and F.I.R.E., this yarn has to be used for Dulaan.

Dulaan Knit-In
Dulaan cheerleader, dear friend, Feralite, and knit-designer extraordinaire Janine will be hosting a Dulaan Knit-In at her house on Saturday, March 17, from 1pm to 5-ish/6-ish. Keep an eye on Janine's blog for further details. I hope to see you there, especially some newbies!

Dulaan Yarn Discount
Dear Reader Kris, who recently started an online yarn shop, Sonny and Shear, is offering a 10% discount to anyone who wants to buy yarn for Dulaan for her shop. In order to receive the discount, you need to enter the code EMHY78LK.

Thank you, Kris! I hope we get to spend more time together at the next Madrona!!

Posted by Ryan at 11:26 AM | Comments (19)

February 14, 2007

With Friends Like These...

(No posting Friday or Monday, Dear Readers. But come back Wednesday
for an announcement about the Dulaan 2007 CafePress store!)

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Happy Valentine’s to my Dear Readers!

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u_monkey2.jpgIt’s the sock monkey’s tail, people, T-A-I-L. Oy. As if flashing my uterus around the Net weren’t bad enough, my readers are seeing things where there is nothing to see.

The part I left out: The whole uterine kit and caboodle—including the rhinestone zipper, which secretly appeals to the princess in me, even if it is attached to viscera—was made and assembled by my friend LindaK, who, during the party, insisted on delivering it to me slowly and majestically on a blue velvet pillow while everyone in the room hummed “Pomp and Circumstance.” I couldn’t make this up if I tried. (Rabbitch, as if you didn’t feel bad enough about not being able to make it to the party in the first place, this is what you missed. But we couldn’t have fit you in the living room anyway. You would have had to watch all of this from outside, through the picture window. In the rain. With blue-icing-stained teeth and lips. And your blue French-cut underwear on your head.)

As I hinted on Monday, the uterine high jinks were only the tip of the iceberg. I now present to you the gift I love to hate and hate to love, a unique gift among unique gifts, a knitting sock monkey, hereinafter known as “Clementine.” (MaryB, you just said I had to name her; you didn’t say it had to be a good name.)

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Once I get past the horrendous sock-monkey-ness of her—the whorishly red lips, simpering monkey smirk, mottled “fur,” spiky eyebrows, and pasty white muzzle and extremities—what I love about her—and I truly do—is her sunny yellow knitting bag, complete with a mint-green UFO (which, because I see an unfinished edge but no sharp pointy sticks, I think she yanked off the needles in frustration after forgetting one yarnover too many) and miscellaneous balls of yarn. Since she’s not really using the red yarn for anything, I suspect it’s her equivalent of the Adirondack yarn I carry around with me simply because I love it almost to the point of perversion. If it were a celebrity, I would break into its house and steal its underwear.

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I am also particularly fascinated by Clementine’s ability to knit with no fingers or thumbs. A true talent. Sort of like gumming your way through a knitting project.

So I, who loathe sock monkeys with an unspeakable passion, now own two. And carry one around with me wherever I go, on my keychain. And, yes, LindaK and MaryB knew exactly what they were doing. They were not offended in the least when I recoiled in horror from my birthday gifts and made a pinched, sucking-on-a-lemon face. That was exactly the reaction they’d been hoping for. You’re a coupla cards, you two, you really are.

Posted by Ryan at 10:01 AM | Comments (16)

February 12, 2007

Surreal to the Max

Sometimes having a blog, and wearing your electronic heart on your electronic sleeve, can come back to bite you on the arse. If you are thinking about starting a blog, be warned.

This weekend we had a knit-in/spin-in/birthday get-together. It was, of necessity, very small, given the size of TMK’s living room which holds 9 people and 4 spinning wheels, which we discovered as we shoehorned in 10 and 5, respectively. To move around, we had to operate very much like those puzzles where pieces of a picture are laid out in a grid with one blank space and you have to move piece A to the left, Piece B to the right, Piece C down and piece D up, ad infinitum. But our lovely guests, also known as Puzzle Pieces A through H, were very patient and we made it work. It didn’t hurt that we bribed them with this, TMK’s lasagna, made from scratch:

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And this, a cake TMK special-ordered (even supplying the artwork) which was scrumptious, despite the fact that the dark-royal-blue icing gave all of us blue lips and teeth. Not a good look.

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One of the rules of the party was “no gifts.” Who was I kidding? With that group?

The good news: I got my uterus back. Even better, it is now bright pink, cuddly and almost kitten-y soft.

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The bad news, my uterus now has a rhinestone zipper. Even worse: It still has fibroids. Lots of fibroids.

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Even worse: My uterus now also contains a sock monkey. A small sock monkey, granted, but a sock monkey all the same—and we know how I feel about sock monkeys. Shudder.

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The quite unexpected acquisition of a new uterus led to many surreal utterances over the course of the weekend, such as:

Me: "Honey, where’s my uterus?" Her, without blinking an eye: "I dunno. Where’d you last leave it?"

Or:

“Ack! One of my fibroids just rolled under the kitchen table.” Immediately followed by, “Frankie, put that fibroid down!”

Or:

“Should I put my sock monkey back in my uterus or put it on my keychain?”

Or:

“I almost forgot to pack my uterus in my overnight bag.”

Or:

“I wonder if I could fit sock yarn, a pattern, and four dpns in my uterus and use it as a project bag.”

But it didn’t end there. Tune in on Wednesday for more madness.

Posted by Ryan at 02:21 PM | Comments (7)

February 07, 2007

Abbdar Defined

(No posting on Friday, Dear Readers. I must hie myself off to Day 3 of "The Managerial Use of Medieval Torture Devices.")

For all of you who were convinced to the very core of your knitterly being that Abbdar was Fair Isle, you’ll appreciate this screenshot I took of the polling-software’s chart after one vote (TMK’s as it happens).

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Your happiness will be short-lived, however, since this is how it looks now, after the polls are closed, leaning in “gansey’s” favor:

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As I said in the comments, this particular vote was truly a horse race. Fair Isle started out winning strongly but then the ganseyites made a run for it. Fair Isle stumbled at the finish line, and we ended up with a 54.9% to 45.1% finish. All the Fair Isle-ites, please report to the glue factory.

So, to recap, we went from a randomly generated nonsense word to a knitting concept for an earth tone, gansey-style hat. I find this to be extremely cool. Thank you, again, for playing along! Now, what do you think a "zraaiq" is? I kid, I kid.

While on the subject of design and colors and such, here's an interesting site I stumbled across while mulling over the idea of color families, ColorSchemer. This section of the site contains thousands of color schemes that you can search by word. For example, while thinking about Abbdar-as-earthy-Fair-Isle (needlessly, as it turned out), I searched on “earth” and got 65 matches, out of which I pulled these two four-color beauts:

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To search on this site, click on Search Schemes.

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Yesterday, Mother Nature, with some help from TMK, hauled me kicking and screaming into my 47th year (well, to be chronologically accurate, 47th birthday, beginning of 48th year.) But the high drama and coyness was all for show because the truth is, as you can see, I was spoiled beyond all spoiling, thanks to Big Sister, niece, nephew, “mother-in-law” and my other half. As is required by my sister—who knows where I live and will hunt me down like the dawg I am if I don’t—I wore the Birthday Tiara, a little worse for the wear after many years of having been shuttled between Seattle and San Diego and back. It’s not on crooked; the feathers have just been, er, artfully rearranged. (Ignore the schlumpy Jabba the Hut look; let’s just blame it on many, many, many layers of winter clothing. Yeah, that’s it.)

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In the packages, a luscious cornucopia of books, clothing, kitchen supplies and, ironically, given my last entry, a Dirt Devil Broom Vac. But I think this piece of equipment and I will be able to come to a meeting of the minds because it’s not a loud, roaring, life-sucking monstrosity but sort of cute and tail-waggingly agreeable, like Frankie in vacuum form. I will keep you posted.

Posted by Ryan at 12:44 PM | Comments (7)

February 05, 2007

Move Along, Move Along. Nothing To See Here.

Since, post-Madrona, life has been mundane enough that 100% of my readership would go belly-up with ennui were I to write about it, and because I haven’t humiliated myself quite enough over the last almost-four years, here're two more Weird Things About Me that I remembered this weekend:

1. I’m afraid of vacuum cleaners.

vacuum.gif(Please, God, somebody jump up, wave your hand excitedly in the air and say, “Me, too!, Me, too!” so I don’t feel quite so barmy. In fact, it would help if you also said, earnestly and with great verve, “I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to say the same thing so that I would know I wasn’t alone, and now I can leave the house for the first time in 30 years with my head held high. Where have you been all my life? I adore you. I worship you. I can’t live without you.” That would make me feel much better. Although, you know what would make me feel even better? If you and your new-found self would pop on over to my house and get the lint and dog hair off my dining-room rug. That’d be good.)

2. When I eat fried chicken, I pull all the fried bits off. And it has nothing to do with counting calories. You should see the look on TMK’s face when I do this. It’s priceless.

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Knitting-wise, I’ve been slummin’. This is what saved my sanity last night when I catapulted the $%^!#$!%! Olympic Squirrel across the living room and started stabbing the $%^!#$!%! Tropical Juice with a metal dpn. This washcloth was, in a word, medicinal. I am feeling much better.

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Spinning-wise, TMK has not been slummin’. I present her first foray into the world of silk spinning, a 2-ply skein of merino silk:

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What'd you say, MaryB? You were expecting this back once TMK had spun it up for you? Um. Yeah. Well. Oh, look at the pretty birdy!

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The last Abbdar poll. Perhaps. Who knows what the hell else I'll come up with. Suggestions welcome.


Posted by Ryan at 11:02 AM | Comments (38)

February 02, 2007

Hodgepodge Friday

Apologies for the lack of posting on Wednesday but I warned you, I did, I did. Plus I was in management training, learning how to beat employees without leaving any telltale bruises. However, when I told my employees exactly this, they laughed and laughed and laughed and went back to playing Warcraft and Sims respectively. This is not going well.

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If you haven’t yet been privy to the gender-identity circus going on on Cuzzin Tom's blog, make sure to read his recent entry about Floki, including the comments. I mean, I understand he’s taken a vow of celibacy but surely you don’t forget everything? Even his Maw and nephew have chimed in on this one. To die for. Worth a visit.

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Wherein I humiliate myself for Stephanie.

In her first post after Madrona, Stephanie wrote:

“I thought about taking a picture of the fog and the way it looked like nothing, and then realized I was on the brink of taking a picture of nothing and thought maybe I didn't want my standards to slip that low.”

Fortunately for her, the high standards in my world are miles below the low standards in hers so, here, on Stephanie’s behalf, a picture of the Tacoma fog, taken through our hotel room window.

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There's no "little cat feet" or dainty "haunches" about this fog. It's a ginormous, 40-pound, furry cat arse smothering the entire city, the cat of which then stands up, covers up the doodies it made, and stomps off to demand food. Welcome to Washington weather.

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219 votes later, we have a clear winner in the Abbdar-color blog poll:

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I do have at least one more poll question but none of the poll softwares available online are behaving themselves today so we will have to go without. Maybe next week.

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Still struggling along on the Diamond sweater using TMK’s Tropical Juice homespun. Last night I discovered that it’s a whoppin’ 4” wider than it should be. That’s, what, a whole ‘nother half of a baby? I think I can compensate for this but I've put TMK on notice that she may have to whip me up some more Tropical Juice. And she has put me on notice that she is not happy about this. And I've put her on notice that that's just too bad. And she's put me on notice that I suck. And I've put her on notice that she sucks equally much. And she's put me on notice that I suck more. Etc., etc., etc.

Posted by Ryan at 10:49 AM | Comments (12)