November 28, 2007

So Close, And Yet So Far Away

The ultimate in ennui: After waiting for five hours at the airport for your delayed flight, you run out of things to do, slump down onto the floor, and start photographing your feet, because they’re there:

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For variety, you photograph the one thing that has kept you sane during the wait, the sage-and-cream BSJ you’re knitting, the stippled, ugly wrong side presented for your viewing pleasure since I wasn’t thinking very clearly by then, it being 11:30 p.m. and my travel plans having gone all to hell:

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Soon after this, the Voice of God said my flight had been cancelled anyway and here were the directions for getting the voucher for the hotel where everyone would be staying for the night, have a nice night, and thank you for choosing WalkingWouldBeFaster Airlines. *%$!%#$*^!

After a grueling 24 hours, ameliorated greatly by a seat in first class won by flirting shamelessly with the young man behind the counter, I made it home. (You know you're back in Seattle when the first thing you see when you walk into the airport is a massage bar. I was sorely tempted, but the pull of the taxi stand and home was greater.)

Didn’t take many photos on the trip but here is the moment when I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore:

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Avocados. Lots and lots of avocados, the zucchini of the southern garden, the fruit neighbors foist on neighbors to foist on neighbors to foist on neighbors, all from one tree in the backyard of the sister’s in-law’s.

Another not-in-Kansas moment, this astounding olive tree. This thing was massive, iron-hard, awesome, very Middle-Earthian and felt truly as if it were occupied by an ancient, wise soul. Or perhaps something evil that caused the roots to crawl into nearby houses at night and steal first-born children. Couldn't quite tell.

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On Sunday, a trek to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Here a couple of pictures of how the wildfires came right, and I mean right, to the perimeter of the park. The darker area at the top of the hills? Burnt by the fire. The fence and road right where the dark area stops? The perimeter of the park.

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Again, dark area at the top: Outside the park, burnt. Green area: Inside the park, not burnt. And, most importantly, animals: Not burnt.

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Here, one of the many wild avian squatters who slum at the zoo's open-air ponds. Incidentally, no zoom was used in the taking of this photo. Dude was fearless. And wanted to everyone to know, this rock covered with bird poop? His. And that rock covered with bird poop? His. In fact, the bird poop? His. Scram, all’a youze.

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And strictly for its cuteness factor, a picture of everyone’s favorite, a meerkat. This particular animal was in a hole when I got to the exhibit, came out of the hole, waddled veeeerrrrrry slowly and veeerrrrry deliberately over to me, got as close to me and the Plexiglas divider as he could, looked slowly up, and stared and stared and stared and stared into my eyes. I quite lost my soul to him.

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Thank you, San Diego family, for a wonderful vacation, even if you did make me eat Mochi ice cream.

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The latest on the Baby Harris Project:

A few people inquired about financial donations. Here is the link that was sent out to the company today.

I'm working on gathering everyone’s email addresses for a mass emailing about the knitting project. As a reminder to locals, I will be at Guild tonight if you want to make a hand-off. Thank you again, everyone!

Posted by Ryan at 02:00 PM | Comments (16)

November 25, 2007

You Guys Rock! (And Make Me a Little Weepy. In a Good Way.)

What a great response to my impromptu proposal! Thank you, thank you, everyone. You are truly my knitting angels! (I just can't imagine being a wife, being pregnant with my first child, and not knowing that you will lose your husband and the father-to-be to violence before the baby is born. Which then makes me think of the military wives and their husbands and Iraq and...ack!)

So, I've mulled this over quite a bit and read everyone's questions and suggestions, and here is my plan.

My priorities are (a) to keep things simple and (b) start and finish the project in very short order, soooooo....

1. I would like to receive everything by Saturday, December 15.

2. Because almost 40 people responded--which is amazing--I'd like to limit the contributions to one (or two, at the most) items per person. That will make for a very healthy box of gifts and will be more than enough to let the new mother know we are thinking about her.

3. I'd like to receive hats, socks, sweaters or blankets in sizes for 6 months to 1-2 years.

4. Because my timing is awful, and because I don't want to intrude on everyone's holiday knitting time, ideally you'll have something which is already done, which is just waiting for a good home, and which you can easily just ship or give to me. For example, I have a sweater that missed the Dulaan deadline, so I'm going to throw it into the box. If not, and if you think you can make and ship or give me something by the 15th, please get those needles clacking!

5. During the next two or three days, I will send everyone, local and out-of-state knitters alike, my address and phone number. Local knitters, feel free to contact me regarding meet-ups and drop-offs if that's what will work best for you. I will be at Guild this month, if that helps.

Answers to Questions:

What is the gender of the baby?
I don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, so unisex is the way to go.

Where does the baby live? What climate does it live in?
The baby will be born here in Seattle, so knit for cold, rainy weather in the fall/winter/spring, hot weather in the summer.

What can we do for the mother? Has a fund been set up?
Because the father-in-law left for Brazil and then I left for San Diego, I haven't spoken to him recently. Hopefully, I will find out more from him when I get back to work on Tuesday. I will pass on whatever I find out.

I can't thank all of you enough for stepping up. Together we can bring a little sunshine into an unimaginably dark time.

Posted by Ryan at 08:33 PM | Comments (10)

November 21, 2007

Hello from Not-So-Sunny Southern California!

Why is it that no matter how small an airplane lavatory is, it's still impossible to find the toilet paper? The aerospace engineers seem to take evil delight in making each bathroom just full enough of buttons and slots and drawers and niches and levers and knobs and panels that finding that one essential is always a challenge. Or maybe it's just me.

And now, on to something much more sobering, and something I want to run by local knitters (and anyone else who might be interested). You may have read in the news about the American basketball player who was found dead (most likely murdered, in my opinion) in Brazil. The father-in-law who went to Brazil to help in the search and ended up helping to identify the body is a good friend of mine from work. The wife of the basketball player is eight months pregnant, due to give birth in December--and is now suddenly without a husband. I would like to see if I could gather a few knitted baby items to give to her. I don't know her; I've never met her, but I can't imagine going through what she is going through right now. This is all a very vague plan right now but I just wanted to see if there was any interest. Lemme know.

Posted by Ryan at 10:03 AM | Comments (40)

November 14, 2007

Wherein I Insult My Readers' Intelligence, Betray Their Loyalty, And Beg Forgiveness

tk.gif[Friday, November 16: Just when I start posting regularly again, I find myself jetting off to brave the fiery wilds of San Diego for the Thanksgiving holiday, so no postings next week or the Monday after, Dear Readers. Although......if I find myself not living in a dentist's office, yet near a computer, with a camera, the right cable, and even mildly entertaining pictures to download, an entry might spontaneously appear. Stranger things have happened.

Happy Thanksgiving, all, and here's to better days ahead!]

For today, just a mish-mash of pointless photographs, things left in the queue from the last few weeks but which never got used so, what the hell.

First, two pictures of the spectacular fall foliage of a Japanese maple in TMK’s yard. On my monitor, at least, the colors are pretty accurate:

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Secondly, a knitter’s delight: Sock-washing day! What I love about this picture is that, the second time I looked at it, I realized each pair of socks has a story that goes with it: The socks made by MaryB with the initials "TMK" knit into the pattern; the socks I knit out of Lorna's Laces Rainbow which TMK wore with her red Converse tennies; the socks local knitters team-knit for TMK when she was pouting about not having any socks knit out of Koigu; the first of many pairs of socks that I knit using Evelyn Clark's Railroad-Rib pattern; the second pair of socks I ever knit... So much of my knitting, blog, life, and relationship history is all wrapped up in this silly little picture.

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And lastly, a super-duper-simple roll-brimmed hat I knit out of Naturally Vero Tweed (color 55 on this page), a yarn which is described as a 12-ply but looks more like a one-ply unspun bulky yarn. This yarn has a lot of tweedy and flecky and water-color-y character, and as you can see, stripes very arbitrarily yet regularly and pleasantly in a hat. Lerv it!

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So, that's it. That's all I've got. Pathetic, n'est-ce pas?

Things will get better; I promise. For example, right now I'm working on the World's Ugliest Washcloth, a ghastly purple and lime green concoction, so you've at least got pictures of that—and a good laugh with overtones of nausea—to look forward to.

Posted by Ryan at 02:27 PM | Comments (14)

November 12, 2007

Whuffle, Whuffle, Whuffle

bear.GIFYou know how, on TV nature specials, they show bears starting to wake from hibernation and how they uncurl and stretch from the cramped, curled position they’ve held for three months and eventually they poke their noses out of the cave and whuffle the air? Well, that’s me right now; I’m a whuffling bear. You can't see me but I'm waving my large, leathery, liver-brown nose around in the air to see if I’m fully prepared to reengage with the world yet.

While I won’t go into any details, suffice it to say, relationships: Sometimes, not all they’re cracked up to be. Friends, family, relatives, knitting buddies: Everything they’re cracked up to be. And more. So much more. Chicken soup made for you by caring friends: Elixir of the gods. But things are improving on all fronts and, at the very least, I’m up to blogging a bit.

Because I’ve been feeling so very bloo, I asked my good friend MaryB if she could find a way to entertain and distract me last Saturday. And, boy howdy, did she come through with a vengeance! She and some other local knitters who are retired or who work part-time—and most of whom I know—meet every Friday for a knitting klatch and the group recently decided to get together on Saturday for a “dye day.” MaryB invited me to join in the fun, and the day couldn’t have been more perfect, more distracting, more engrossing. The hostess provided an abundance of working surfaces and tools and dyes and pots and heat sources, and many of the women were experienced dyers who were willing to help the neophytes like Yours Truly, so we had all the elements we needed for a big, successful, companionable dyeing bash. I didn’t take a lot of pictures but here’s what I got.

The unique view of West Seattle and the Seattle container port from the lovely house where the event was held. This picture doesn’t even come close to doing the view justice:

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One of the work tables, covered in plastic sheeting, dyes, tongs, thermometers, paper towels, bowls, scissors, vinegar, detergent and only three of the many large slow cookers—plus a multitude of other pots and pans—that we kept busy all day. This should give you a sense of just how free-wheeling and shoot-from-the-hip the event was. Anything went! (What you can't see, though, is that the host and hostesses own canaries so we were serenaded all day by the most ethereal and sweet birdsong. And then there was the large, friendly doberman who participated in the dyeing process by wandering around and leaning heavily and hopefully on anyone who stood still for even a fraction of a second.)

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MaryB’s emerald-to-forest green success, destined for a shawl:

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One of the things I learned was how to use less water (and even dry dye powder) in the dyeing process. In fact, most of the roving and yarn we used wasn’t even soaked beforehand. While this isn’t one of my efforts (stupidly, those were the things I forgot to photograph), it still shows how little water there is in the pot. The roving was slowly pushed in until eventually it was soaked through but there was still only enough water to barely cover the top:

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Some astoundingly beautiful salmon pink roving, with colors ranging from a blush pink to a dark coral. Yummy!

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Here, a similar but pinker salmon yarn:

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Our reward after a day of fun, a salad potluck which accompanied a remarkably delicious fish chowder made by the hostess:

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Thank you, MaryB and everyone else, for making room for this whuffly bear.

Posted by Ryan at 10:22 AM | Comments (29)

November 07, 2007

Poking My Head Up

Just a short entry to prove that I'm still alive...and am living proof that drama, trauma and stress do not a classier or wiser person make.

I am a big fan of girly, pretty-smelling things, especially soaps, shampoos and conditioners, and I'm very pertickeler. I've been known to spend a good half hour in a drug-store aisle on the hunt for the Next Great Scent, that herbal, lemony, bracing, mind-clearing scent which will raise a shower just that far above the ordinary. But yesterday, when I was doing just that, I forgot the cardinal rule: Beware thou the conditioner fart, that one bubble of conditioner at the top of every bottle that you have to get rid of before you can safely squeeze the bottle to smell the scented air. Which is why I grabbed a bottle, opened the top, brought the bottle to my nose, squeezed, breathed in, and smartly shot a wad of strawberry-scented conditioner straight up my left nostril.

And people trust me around sharp needles?!

Posted by Ryan at 10:26 AM | Comments (22)