July 30, 2007

More About My Neighbors Than You Ever Wanted to Know

Before anyone thinks that the comment question left by Beth—“Was it the morning sex neighbors?”—was just gratuitously odd, I assure you it’s not. Beth’s question is a legit one, from, apparently, a long-time reader with a remarkable memory. So funny, so unexpected, Beth; you made me shriek out loud.

What Beth is referring to is the lead-in anecdote for this long-ago entry. And the answer is, no, Beth; it’s not, ahem, "those" neighbors. In the noise department, the two caballeros who live there have been rather more well-behaved lately—the latest hoochie mama must have moved on—although they were the ones who chopped down my cherry tree. (Sounds very George Washingtonian, doesn’t it, although it doesn’t have the same uplifting, epigrammatic, Aesop-esque ending. There were no lessons to be learned; the tree is just gone, I am none the wiser, and I will never be President of the United States. Thank God.)

The house that disappeared—poof!—in one afternoon belonged to my other neighbors to the north. And it seems to be one of those economically inscrutable real-estate transactions where the new owners paid almost $400k...simply for the privilege of tearing the house down. Nothing of what they bought for their $400k remains standing. But, then again, another house which is going to be sold for $1.3 million is being built across the street from my extremely modest cottage, so all bets are off. The neighborhood has gone completely wacko.

Which reminds me of a story having to do with the previous owners of The House That is Now Gone. It took us a long time to meet them and, thereafter, I probably spoke to them only three or four times during the 14 years we were neighbors. One year, however, roundabout some holiday—Christmas, New Year’s, I don’t rightly remember—the wife suddenly brought over a basket of goodies: tea breads, crackers, jams, spreads. Which seemed quite lovely and neighborly...until we discovered that everything in the basket had already been opened and used, was stale, and/or was months—even a year, in one case—past its pull date. What the...? This mystery was never solved since there’s no polite way to ask to your neighbor, “So, why exactly did you bring us a basket full of crap?”

Speaking of food, here’s the difference between the fate of food at TMK’s house and the fate of food at mine.

My house: I bring home four peaches, eat one, the other three fill the kitchen with fruit flies and are summarily tossed into the garbage can.

TMK’s house:

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Yep, peach crumble. And for breakfast the next morning? Peach pancakes.

The peach crumble was our offering at this month’s knitting get-together at Naomi’s. Which was followed by another knitting get-together on the other side of Lake Washington, at Ellen’s, with the same rabble-rousers. Which is how TMK has already managed to spin fully half of her new bamboo/merino roving (which is turning out much lighter, almost with a pastel watercolor look, and much prettier than my woefully inadequate photo shows)...

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...and how I managed to knit half of my Transylvania hat:

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And tonight there’s Ferals, so we be just churnin’ up the fiber, y’all!

Posted by Ryan at 10:49 AM | Comments (14)

July 27, 2007

A Fool and His Gold Are Soon...

Not much to write today, although I will share with you a life lesson learned:

tchest.gifThe freshly picked, dewy, plump, sun-kissed, golden-delicious peaches? Filled my kitchen with a cloud of fruit flies.

The interminably boring black ribbing which had me seriously questioning the value of knitting? Now a fun and thoroughly interesting hat that has me waiting impatiently for my lunch hour so I can grab it and keep going.

And, along these same lines... My immediate-next-door-neighbor’s house that was there when I left yesterday morning? Gone yesterday afternoon. Pulled down in just a few hours.

Life keeps you on your toes.

Posted by Ryan at 10:00 AM | Comments (11)

July 25, 2007

As Good As It Gets

I am rich in so many ways.

I am rich in the Dulaan-y way. 17,376 times in the Dulaan-y way.

I am rich in the family-y way since I just spent an unexpected yet wonderful half-hour yakking and laughing on the phone with Big Sister.

I am rich in the peach-y way, thanks to TMK's mother, who arrived yesterday bearing gifts of gold, picked from their tree:

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I am rich in the yarn-y way, thanks to KT, a guest at the Cuzzin Tom/Seattle Brigadier Bash, who arrived at the party bearing gifts of gold. And pink. And green.

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Rich, rich, rich. Which is what I keep reminding myself and reminding myself and reminding myself as I knit, frog, knit, frog and knit again the ultimate in dull—ribbing, black ribbing, black ribbing on size 0’s for the Transylvania Hat. When this all comes together it’ll be worth it but, oy. All of you designers out there, my hat’s off to you. Or it would be...if I hadn’t just frogged it again.

Red Cross Report: Frankie is doing much better, TMK is improving slooooowly—although she’s not too sure about the big cone I put around her neck. It makes it hard for her to get through doors.

Posted by Ryan at 11:03 AM | Comments (15)

July 23, 2007

To Dream the Impossible Dream

The envelope, please.

The final count for Dulaan 2007 is...

17,376!!!!!!!!

Can you believe it, Brigadiers?! Especially after we started with a mere 4,000+ items a few years ago?!

I am stunned. I had no idea. At distribution time, this year, fer sher, we will really make a difference.

A BIG thank you goes out to Stacie at F.I.R.E. who does the counting and gives me the numbers. Thank you for your ever-faithful reporting, Stacie! It's what we live for!

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One thing you can say about the Cuzz, thanks to his ramblin' and his 'Net surfin' ways, he seems to know people, and well, wherever he goes. He left Seattle yesterday to visit another friend—not the one here in Seattle, not the one from Portland, not the one from Olympia—who lives on Vashon Island, and then back to the sandy wilds of Mongolia he goes for, he says, at least another year. Bon voyage, Ramblin’ Man!

And, we, all of a sudden, seem to have become the Seattle House of Pain. Frankie is on muscle relaxants and pain killers for, per the emergency-room vet, a currently undiagnosable ailment that left her whining, limping, and trying to sleep in a wobbly and unsteady tripod position that was the only way she could get comfortable. (Why undiagnosable? Because the two, not one, two times, we took Frankie to the emergency room on Saturday, she stopped limping, stopped whining, and trotted along as happy as you please, all doggy smiles, leaving the vet quite stumped.)

Whatever Frankie has seems to be contagious since this morning TMK decided to go thisaway and Mr. Spinal Cord and his close friend, Dorsal Musculature, decided to go thataway. She, too, is now whining piteously, limping, and trying to sleep in a wobbly and unsteady tripod position. Actually, she’s on her way to the swimming pool to see if she can get things to sort themselves out, but I couldn’t resist the image.

On to some miscellanea...

As a “thank you," Cuzzin brought us this unique and adorable felted, for lack of a better word, “diorama” consisting of a map of Mongolia, a twee ger, and three white camels.

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The camels look so content and perhaps a little smug, as if they’re thinking, “See how many days you can go without water, dude.” In return, we say, “Sure, but at least we’ve got two legs. You’ve got, what, none?”

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Other than the Big Brigadier Bash, the last week or so has been curiously fiberless for both of us. I’ve been slogging away on size 1’s on a swatch for a black and terra cotta stranded-knitting hat I’m designing, based on a pattern from Charted Peasant Designs of Saxon Transylvania (while also reading Dracula, which is all a bit too ironic. BTW, Dracula? Good book that. Not at all the cartoonish story of the undead I expected. It’s no Moby Dick but it’s dayum fine. But I digress. Way digress.)

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Why isn’t the pattern centered, and why is there an extra smoodge of seemingly pointless black on the left, you ask? Because, for some reason, when I finished casting on 24 stitches, the number I needed and wanted, I just blithely kept right on going to 28, ultimately making a shambles of my swatch measurements and stitch counts. This does not bode well for the 168 or whatever’all I’m going to have to cast on for the real project.

Feeling the need for a little fibery infusion, TMK and I did spend some time at Village Yarn and Tea on Saturday. TMK scored some of this astoundingly beautiful bamboo and merino roving from DragonFibers. TMK is not, as you know, a SABLE* kind of gal. Having a stash actually makes her twitchy and anxious, but this, this was a must-buy.

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I can’t speak for how she feels about it, but I’m the one who hung it from the mantel so that I could sneak a peek whenever the mood struck me. I believe I even gave it a backward glance as I headed out the door for work this morning.

It's good to be back blogging again. I hope all is well with you, Dear Readers!

*Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.

Posted by Ryan at 11:43 AM | Comments (15)

July 18, 2007

The Brigadier Bash!

<Very picture heavy post, Dear Readers.>

Huh. I think I forget to mention that blogging will be spotty as I take time off to show the Man in Red the sights and sounds of The Emerald City. My bad. Blogging will be spotty as I take time off to yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.

Somewhere, God and Buddha are sipping iced double tall lattes together and having a righteous chuckle over the sight of two nine-to-five “civilians,” if you will, who live very much on the grid and lead tightly and anally structured lives, trying to entertain a monk who lives very much off the grid and just goes with the karmic flow, and vice versa. But we’re all happily making do. Right now he’s in Portland with good friend Sarah and plans on being back here this evening. Perhaps. Maybe. We think. Let me check my Day Timer, my Outlook Calendar, and my BlackBerry.

Those of you who read Cuzzin Tom’s blog know that when he’s not all about the Buddha and the Mongolia and the religion and the politics, he is all about the birds. It’s no surprise, therefore, that here we are at Meadowbrook Pond, ostensibly to see the beavers that come out every evening, but, as always, the Cuzz is scanning the skies, the shrubbery, and trees for some new beakčd friend. Or some old one. He’s not particular. And, look, he seems to be sucking me in as well…

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We spent much of the next day at the Union Bay Natural Area continuing our hopeful scan of the skies. Since the UBNA is located at the Center for Urban Horticulture, we were also able to enjoy some beautiful plants. The plant-list box was annoyingly empty so all you get are pictures and the thoughts and impressions of this know-nothing amateur.

The Center’s outdoor display consists of a central point marked by a fountain, with paths radiating out from it in a 360-degree, spoke-like pattern:

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We saw ethereal white poppies taller than one’s head, perhaps a day past their prime, but this only made them all the more beautiful, like the wings of sad or sleepy fairies:

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A breath-taking, substantial, cascading grass, a green and white frozen waterfall of foliage:

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Light-cantaloupe-colored dahlias with almost-black leaves and a chubby bee or two:

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Dark coral-red day lilies with chartreuse leaves:

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What look like variegated orange-and-yellow Echinacea or daisies. Anyone know what these are? We want!

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Two utterly charming photos that TMK took of a white-crowned sparrow:

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And, look, a turtle! These big galoots were everywhere.

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Sunday was the Big Event, the bringing together of the Cuzzin and the Northwest Chapter of Dulaan Brigadiers. I was deathly afraid that hordes of people would cancel at the last moment—and TMK and I would be left with 5 lbs of minced burger meat, 16 hotdogs, 50 tomato slices, an entire head of washed and torn lettuce, and 24 cans of soda to eat or drink—but my worritin’ was for nowt.

The calm before the storm:

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In full swing!

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Cuzzin Tom being a Tibetan Buddhist monk, TMK and I thought Tibetan prayer flags might add some appropriate ambience to the fęte. I bought these at the most quaint and fascinating little Tibetan hole-in-the-wall, the kind of place you're convinced will do a Brigadoon on you and disappear in the mist. To counteract our Catholic and Episcopalian cooties and to honor the flags as best we could, we carefully researched how and when they were supposed to be hung which is, apparently, in the morning, in the sun, in the breeze. The morning part cooperated, the breeze part cooperated, the sun part not so much. However, after many false starts, many yells of “Quick! Quick! The sun is out!” and many dashes out into the yard, only to have the sun disappear, success!

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Cuzzin Tom holding court and charming da ladies...

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...and wearing a hat knit for him by MaryB. (What do you suppose was going on in my mind that I was making that face? I was eating ice cream! Who makes a face like that around ice cream?)

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Local Brigadier Diana, on the left, and Camela, who drove all the way up from Portland, showing off her fetching smile and a felted Mongolian sheep pin she won in a little parlor game we played.

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Carol in Seattle who, we were surprised to discover, lives in Olympia, not Seattle at all. But she was spiffy, and we hope our paths cross again!

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The twins, MaryB, and the back of Naomi's sister’s head.

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Lastly, incontrovertible proof that the Cuzzin was here:

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I can’t begin to describe how wonderful the party was, the food, the company, the knitting, the weather, the Cuzz, and all with the knowledge that another very successful Dulaan year was behind us.

Wait. Did someone say “successful?”

Lookee here, people:

16,465!!!

And more to go.

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

July 11, 2007

The Buzz on the Cuzz

Am I the only person who goes to the bathroom at work and somehow, in the confusion of all the layers of clothing, gets her security card unclipped from her shirt and clipped to her underwear?

And now, going literally from the ridiculous to the sublime, I get to (drrruuum rrroollll!) Pimp Da Monk! Sounds like a new and highly tasteless game show, doesn’t it, something they’d use during the summer when all the good stuff is on hiatus? But, in all seriousness (okay, some seriousness), this coming Monday, Cuzzin Tom will be giving a talk and PowerPoint presentation in Olympia. The vital stats:

Date: Monday, July 16
Time: Doors open at 7 p.m., talk starts at 7:15 p.m.
Topic: "Marx to Buddha: The Post-Communist Rise of Mongolian Buddhism and the Role of the West"
Location: Olympia Public Library, 313 8th Avenue SE
Library Phone Number: 360-352-0595

And because I am nothing if not a full-service pimp, a (somewhat blurry but still serviceable) map:

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And because Cuzzin Tom is nothing if not a full-service monk, to try to lure you into coming, he sent this picture of himself and his Mongolian friends Sansarbat (the other monk) and Altangerel hangin' loose and lookin' fly in the Gobi Desert. How’s it working?

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Lastly, if you read Cuzzin Tom’s blog, you know he’s not just a monk, he’s a scholar, a thinker, and a philosopher who walks the walk, talks the talk, lives the life, and devours, and is willing to share, anything he can which is related to his one supreme passion, and all with humor. If you’re at all interested in the melting pot of Buddhism, the Buddhist monastic life, philosophy, Mongolia, and international politics, there’ll be a seat waiting for you. I'll bet he wouldn't even object if a little accidental knittin' happened while he was talking.

How’d I do, Cuzz?

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As promised, today was the day I drew a name from the list of people who completed their five or more for the Dulaan 10,000 project. One click on the random-number generator...(wait for it)...and the winner is #201:

Naomi Paskin-Parsons!!

Thanks to TMK, the prize basket is now also going to contain a skein of this, her merino-yak three-ply handspun Sock Monkey yarn!

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TMK has wanted, very sweetly and earnestly, to contribute a skein of her yarn ever since she knew there was going to be a prize. Is she or is she not a punkin’?

Naomi, I'll email you for your snail mail address.

Thank you everyone for participating in the insane "Dulaan 20,000 or Bust" roller-coaster ride we started way back in October 2006. I’m not completely sure how well my scheme worked…but I think the numbers speak for themselves. As of 2:51 p.m. yesterday, F.I.R.E. reports that they have received:

Thirteen

Thousand.

Four.

Hundred

And.

Eleven.

Items.

13,411. 1,325 more than our goal of 12,086 with at least 1,000 more items yet to count. Stay tuned!

(No posting Friday, Dear Readers. Oh, and Dale-Harriet, if you have any questions about the BSJ, feel free to email me. I promise to confuse you further.)

Posted by Ryan at 11:33 AM | Comments (11)

July 09, 2007

I Survived the Second Bungee Jump

What happens when:

(a) a knitter with little to no design sense

(b) gets ahold of four balls of purple yarn (Why, God? Why purple? Why not, say, a nice subtle, sage green?)

(c) underestimates how much garter stitch gobbles up yarn and

(d) runs out of every color before the end of the project and has to get creative, which explains why the stripes start to get lame-o at the bottom and why the jacket doesn’t close.

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Looks a little kimono-esque, don’t it? Fortunately, I was able to predict that I was going to run out of yarn (which is the point of stash-diving, after all. On that score, at least, I was supremely successful.) and didn’t make buttonholes. My crystal ball tells me, however, that there are five i-cord loop closures in my immediate future.

On the positive side, I “get” the BSJ pattern now—but only because I've reconciled myself to the fact that, at least in the case of this pattern, one man’s “increase by 10” is another man’s “increase by 14.” And I’m good with that. Or so my therapist tells me I will be—with time.

While I tortured my poor brain contemplating the true meaning of knitting, purling, increasing, decreasing, casting on, casting off, art, beauty, life and death, the smarter one of this Seattle duo was doing the satisfying, the fulfilling, the simple of the simple opposite—painting the bat box black:

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For those not in the bat-box know (which would’ve included me until a couple of months ago), this is to ensure that the box and, hence, the bats, stay as warm as possible. (TMK kept the inside plain in order to keep as much of the chemicals from the paint away from the bats as possible.)

Speaking of which, Saturday night I was convinced I heard bats in our yard—which boded well for TMK’s long-term bat husbandry plans—until I noticed that the “bats” had followed me into the garage, into the kitchen, into the living room, and into the bathroom and were, in fact, two quarters clinking lightly together in my pocket. It's a good thing my future includes a lot of knitting and little, if no, animal science.

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Thanks to a few goober-headed slip-ups on my part, I’ve had to update the Dulaan 10,000 list again so if you emailed me to say, quite rightly, “I knit my five items. I mailed my five items. You told me my name was bolded. But it’s not. Pleeeeze bold my name!,” check the updated list. I think I’ve got it right now.

This last week, I’ve been working on gathering things for the prize. So far the basket includes:

Three balls of pink oh-so-soft Cashmerino
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Two balls of one of my all-time favorite yarns, Muench Tessin
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Three skeins of beautiful blue and green Koigu, generously donated to the cause
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A Franklin Habit tote, also generously donated
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And some scrumptious chocolates, which I'm trying very hard not to eat because that wouldn't be at all sporting
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I will pick a winner on Wednesday!


Posted by Ryan at 11:52 AM | Comments (9)

July 02, 2007

Huh. That's All There Is To It?

j4.GIFNo posting Wednesday or Friday, Dear Readers. Wednesday TMK, Frankie and I will be huddled under a bed somewhere, hiding from the fireworks which we detest with an unutterable detestation, and crawling out only long enough to wolf down some barbequed steak and corn. Friday, meh, I’ll just be on vacation.

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A weekend of small successes.

I drank this without incident:

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I completed this:

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And accidentally started a new one:

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I think the difference between your first and second BSJ is like the difference (as I imagine it to be) between your first and second bungee jump. During the first jump, you plummet head first towards the earth, screaming, twisting, thrashing, making unrealistic promises to God, most likely doing unspeakable things in your pants, and making your displeasure known to anyone within shouting distance. Then you get back on the crane or the bridge or wherever you jumped from the first time and think, “Huh. That wasn’t so bad. I think I’ll do it again.

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I’ve finished updating the list of people who finished their ”Dulaan 10,000 or Bust” items. These names were marked “done” as of today and are the last names which will be entered into the prize drawing.

Angela Grant
Anj
CeCe Braun
Elizabeth
Jenn Walters
Kirsten
Linda K
Robbyn
Ruth
Sarah
Seanna Lea
Shannon Buck
Sharon
Sue

The complete list of people who signed on and the ones who completed their five or more can be found here, sorted, as always, alphabetically by first name or nickname. A total of 261 people met their goal, meaning they donated a minimum of 1,305 items. Many, many participants donated more (we won’t even mention Nancy O., who knitted and crocheted the equivalent of contributions from 31.4 other people) so that number is actually much higher.

I’ll finish gathering items for the prize this week and do the drawing, by random-number generator, next week.

Thank you all for participating and helping keep that infamous Dulaan energy level up, up, up! I have my fingers crossed that we get an updated number from F.I.R.E. soon. I can’t wait to see what kind of “damage” we did this year!

You are all A-Number-One angels of the first order!!

Posted by Ryan at 10:56 AM | Comments (18)