February 29, 2008

"I'm Sorry, Dave. I'm Afraid I Can't Do That."

For some unfathomable reason, they’ve put a sensor on the soda vending machine at work, which means you have to let the machine know you’re there, ready to transact some bidness. If you don’t, it takes your money, gives you nothing, and doesn’t return your change. (Reminds me of the two times I was mugged in New York.) The sensor is on top of the machine which means that, to wake it up, you have to do a dramatic, arms-in-the air gesture, like a gymnast after a dismount. (Which works for everyone except the woman who is reeeeally short. No soup soda for her, unless someone is around to wake the machine up for her.)

The machine also flings its cans out with aggressive abandon, which then whack you painfully in the shin, and frequently land on the floor, get dented, and spurt carbonated beverage everywhere. Which means the whole thing turns into a dance: Walk up. Fling your arms up in the air. Put in your money. Push the button. Stick your foot preemptively into the dispensing hole. Grab your soda. Ta-dah! (Or: Walk up. Fling your arms up in the air. Put in your money. Push the button. Forget to stick your foot preemptively into the dispensing hole. Get wacked in the shin, and hop rapidly and painfully to the sink, spraying soda on the floor and walls. Ta-dah!)

Ah, for the days when vending machines weren’t sentient. I think I’m going to start calling this one HAL.

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Anyone out there want to tell me what the fuss around “Brokeback Mountain” was about? TMK and I just got around to watching it last weekend and it left us both feeling a little perplexed. The acting was just okay; the plot was just okay; the make-out scenes were meh (I was prepared to get all prudish and uncomfortable, since that’s how I am but…nuthin’). Personally, I was more taken in by the sheep, but I may have issues related to knitting. (It didn’t help that occasionally we had to turn on the subtitles to understand what Heath Ledger was saying. Who’s dead. Which was totally weird.) ‘Splain how you felt about the movie, please! Or tell us you felt the same.

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Finished a sock but need to redo the toe because the sock is one frickin' quarter inch too short which made me get my panties all in a bunch and start another ribbon dishcloth instead. Which is good because the lovely woman who is making the homemade soaps to go with the dishcloths has gone a little wacko and made about 50. Ack! I was only planning on turning out a dishcloth here and there but apparently I’ll be knitting them for the rest of my natural life (as I chug away endlessly on the StairMaster and TMK comes by occasionally to give me a sandwich and some more cotton yarn).

Posted by Ryan at 11:28 AM | Comments (23)

February 27, 2008

Revenge of the Gym Equipment

Much to my (and, I think, TMK’s) astonishment, except for a week and a half when I was as sick as a dawg, I’m still going to the gym. Loathe it, of course, but I keep going because it seems to be the only thing the Boogey Man of Despair understands. (Although I am getting a little tired of his melodramatic, Wizard of Oz “I’m melting” shtick.)

Last night’s workout adventure was discovering a piece of equipment I couldn’t get off of. Why didn’t anyone tell me that ellipticals, which I had been on before and which I understood, and StairMasters, which I hadn’t and didn’t, are not the same? My first hint should've been that every single elliptical was being used while there wasn’t a single person on any of the StairMasters.

Clueless, I got on the infernal thing and pushed the Start button, the foot thingies started to move, and that was when I realized it wasn’t an elliptical at all but the Gym Equipment from Hell. I immediately started looking desperately around for a Slow Down button or a Stop button and couldn’t find either so I just kept chugging slowly, painfully away, unable to stop. (Anyone out there a Kingston Trio fan? Do you know the “Charlie on the MTA” song*? I had visions of spending the rest of my life like Charlie, doomed to live on a piece of gym equipment until I was old and gray the way he was doomed to live on the subway, with TMK coming by every so often, like Charlie’s wife, to hand me a sandwich.) Eventually, I became exhausted and had no choice but to stop stepping and prepare for the worst, for being flung like a ragdoll halfway across the gym—and the foot thingies obligingly ceased their hellish quicksand-like motion and sank to the ground. I was free! I breathed a sigh of relief, and stepped off in a manner that I hoped was graceful and confident (and athletic; let's not forget athletic!), also hoping, once again, no one had been watching. (Is it just me, or do I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time at the gym hoping no one is watching? First there was the sideways lurch off the treadmill and now this…)

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Although we lost TMK completely to the alternative lifestyle of dieting and non-stop grunting and sweating in the gym for a while, she did recently do some spinning. And the results are wonderful. Rooster Rock from Blue Moon which used to look like this heah...

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Now looks like this heah, in its three-ply form...

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TMK was hoping the color runs would correspond more exactly but the results are still num-num-num delicious, like the mottled looks of some Trekking XXLs. And y’all know how I feel about Trekking! Given the various beiges, browns and terra cottas, and given that we always name her finished yarns after food products, and given how wackadoo things have been lately, I say we call this Mixed Nuts.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I can knit and do crossword puzzles at the same time. Stockinette or garter stitch required, of course. If the pattern required anything else, I think my head would explode.

*For those of you who don't know this marvelous song, thanks to the magic of modern technology, here it is on YouTube.

Posted by Ryan at 11:30 AM | Comments (14)

February 20, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

What a mix of delightful and surreally perplexing the Madrona fiber conference was this year. It was still wonderful enough that I want to go back next year (so much so that I’m willing it to be February 2009 now, damn it!), but the peripheral goings-on were something else.

The hotel is in the process of being remodeled so it was a bit like being in a mash-up of a war zone, a maze, a video game, and Wonderland. Every time you went to the lobby or the mezzanine, the roped-off pathways and the areas where you could go, or not, would have changed, and contractors and equipment were constantly appearing and disappearing. And the results of the remodel from Uninspiring Classic American Hotel to We-Are-Trying-Too-Hard Cosmopolitan Modern? Meh. In particular, the bane of everyone’s existence were the new bowl-like sinks. You know, the kind that sits on top of the counter instead of flush with it? You could always tell when some poor knitter had made the mistake of trying to wash her hands because she would come out of the bathroom with a sploosh of water across her middle and a slightly annoyed look on her face. We learned over time to look politely away because, well, been there, done that.

Then our dear friend Elaine had to drive home in the middle of the night because her room was under the service corridor and the attendant service carts that rumbled back and forth, back and forth, back and forth all night, making sleep impossible. (Pray tell; what was hotel management thinking?) Another guest had to call the concierge to have the people in the room above her (not knitters, it should be known) thrown out because of the drunken ruckus they were making. Then there was the poor woman who had her car stolen.

yarnbuy.GIFWe were lucky enough to escape such calamities, however. Instead, we spent two days recharging our emotional batteries by squatting outside of the fiber market, schmoozing with peeps we either never get to see, or see all the time, or see all the time yet don’t know well. I did a wee bit of damage in this year’s (luscious and huge, by my standards) market: Five skeins of yarn (an angora mix from Toots LeBlanc , one skein of Blue Moon sock yarn, one skein of cheerfully bright, variegated yarn from Two Swans, and two balls of Trekking), three patterns, and the Knit Kimono book.

After the Saturday-night banquet and the fascinating lecture on bison fiber and bison husbandry by fiber swami Judith MacKenzie McCuin, a gaggle of us, maybe 20, sat around the cheerful fire pit—near the full-size horse statue with a lamp sprouting out of its head; further evidence of the wackadoo remodel—and yacked the evening away. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to be away from both of our houses and all the drama and the angst of the last few months. It was also quietly affirming and validating to be able to lean against TMK in public (oooooo!) and know that not a single person in that lovely, supporting group would take offense. If you were there, just know that you were part of a very special moment for us, whether you were aware of it or not. (My ring looks lovely in firelight, by the way. Hee!)

I actually did some knitting and started and completed one ribbon dishcloth. You know your brain’s not ticking over quite right when you have to tink a frickin’ dishcloth, but I eventually prevailed and am ready to churn out my next. (The full story behind these dishcloths is that another employee is making homemade ribbon-shaped soaps which we will then bundle with the dishcloths for my employee to sell at her cancer walk. I am feeling really good about this project. True, it’s no Dulaan, but we’re still making a difference in people’s lives through knitting. Win-win-win!)

A special “hello” to Adrienne who managed to catch us just as we were leaving Madrona. (Literally. I was getting ready to climb into the car.) It was so nice to meet you, and thank you for the warm hug! I wish we could've talked more. And another shout out to adorable Erika and David, our Madrona mascots! We sure wish we could see you guys more than once a year!

Our next adventure? Maui in March! Two of TMK's friends are getting married there so we’re going to make the trek across the wawa to cheer them on. This is A Big Deal for TMK since it involves her first long flight, her first flight through more than one time zone, and her first crossing of (at least part of) the ocean. She vacillates between out-of-her-mind excited and so terrified she pees her pants. Me, my pants are quite dry and clean, thank you.

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

February 13, 2008

Now what?

The logical question now is, what do the the little gold bands mean, given that we couldn’t get married in this here bass-ackward country if we wanted to? They mean as little or as much as you want them to. Mostly they symbolize a new start and a new future—which may involve a day-trip to Canada; anyone wanna tag along?—and they’re a hedge against the raging insecurities that are eating me up the way a Pacman eats those little dots. (But apparently TMK is willing to hitch her wagon to someone consumed with raging insecurities. Who knew?) Mostly, TMK wanted us both to wear rings to symbolize our “connection” and our relationship, and, personally, I think she had had enough of this 21-year shilly-shallying around. Relationship-wise, we still have some work to do, and we’re learnin’ to lerve my little white pills, but the rings gave us a good, if symbolic, goose in the right direction.

Were the rings a surprise? You bet yer sweet bippy (link for you young un’s born after Laugh-In went off the air). I had nary a clue. I think my reaction was something like:

“Oh.

My.

Guh…od.”

Followed by another:

“Oh.

My.

Guh…od.”

Which was then followed by my playing the Parkay/butter/Parkay/butter/Parkay game with the little hinged box because perhaps I wasn’t quite appreciating the solemnity of the moment.

And for those of you who think of me as a big-ass-diamond girl, apparently you’ve been reading your “Field Guide to Northwest Princesses.” But that’s for the future—when one of us can make an innocent comment without the other one bursting into tears or screeching, “And what did you mean by that, exactly?!”—and will most likely be rings that TMK and I design. The gold rings are simple, and simply perfect, for now. The oddest thing is that we both feel as if we have worn them forever.

Thank you everyone for your great support and wonderful comments. TMK and I read and loved every single one, and there was much calling back and forth and "Did you see...?" and "So-and-so commented!" and "Isn't that sweet?". (And thank God for CarolineF and NancyO, who rescued us from languishing at comment #99. And a thank you to the brave lurkers who peeked their heads out. A big howdy to you! Glad to know you're out there!)

Madrona this weekend! Who will be there? We’ll be there Saturday and Saturday night, and will be at the banquet, although you’ll have to look extra hard to see TMK since she weighs, oh, 40 or 50 pounds less than she used to. Since she’s still losing weight, she hasn’t bought a new wardrobe, so just look for a small body schlumping around in yards of loose material.

By the way, in case you didn’t notice this in the latest email sent out by the Madrona folks, an important heads-up with regard to your ability to procure food, er, or not:

"The hotel is being remodeled and is in transition. Please be patient. The 4th floor restaurant grille is closed but the restaurant on the 26th floor is serving all 3 meals. We have included a list of close-by restaurants in your registration packet and there will be a sandwich and salad concession in the Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm."

Now I suppose I should start knitting something so the muggle detectors that’ve been set up at the hotel entrances don’t start wailing and whooping loudly when I approach. Since charity knitting always seems to lift my spirits, I think I’ll start knitting ribbon dishcloths for my employee who wants to sell them at her cancer walk this year. Cotton, size 7 needles, and some mild knitting and purling—sounds basic, easy, non-threatening; I think I can handle it.

Posted by Ryan at 10:01 AM | Comments (33)

February 08, 2008

Birthday Surprise

Do you know how incredibly adult you have to be to turn comments off on (a) a blog entry that was posted as a complete surprise by your honey and (b) has been stuffed with an avalanche of loving, positive, supportive comments from readers about your very own birthday in which, for that one day, you are allowed to wallow unabashedly? Very adult, I am here to tell you. At least 48 years old. But the spammers, who apparently didn’t care that Wednesday was my birthday—or did, and wanted to express their delight by giving until it hurt—spammed the crap out of me. This is all odd, since my blog spamming has been more or less under control for years. I think I’ll have to start turning the comments for previous entries off as I go along. As ever, my mantra: Stupid spammers.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for the many, many warm birthday wishes!! You made my day.

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Long-time blog readers may remember this:

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This is a God-awful birthday tiara that my sister and I have been mailing back and forth to each other for years. And it was Birthday Tiara #2, much uglier than Birthday Tiara #1, and—or so I thought until this year—the most outrageous natal-day head adornment conceivable. Then, this year, my mischievous niece got in on the act and found…this:

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The picture comes nowhere near doing this thing justice so, please, allow me to explain. First, it's made of shiny, fake, white and pink velvet. And is padded, side to side, top to bottom, with astonishing care and precision, much like a warm, high-quality quilt. Embroidered on the front are the words, “Birthday Princess.” The top is a three-dimensional cake. And those pink things on top? Opalescent pink candles with orange-yellow satin “flames.” And inexplicably, sewn into the satin pink lining is a tiny pocket, like the kind you would find in, say, a pair of gym shorts. As if you would actually wear this thing in public, to an event, where people could see you, and would need a place to store, oh, a key. Or an extra tampon. Or a few dollars for your taxi ride home. Stunning and practical, non?

This thing is absolutely insane. And although it was strictly within the confines of TMK’s house, I swear, San Diego family, I wore it for the entirety of my birthday evening. In its defense, thanks to the quilting, my head and I stayed very warm and cozy, although fashion-critic Frankie was not too sure about the overall look:

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The birthday was lovely, despite my bloo mood of late. I was fêted on Monday at Ferals, thanks to TMK and a surprise chocolate-chocolate-chocolate-with-extra-chocolate-added cake, and being serenaded by the Feral ladies. Wednesday, the night of my actual birthday, there was dinner at a lovely restaurant, many lovely gifts from TMK and family, and further serenading by San Diego family.

Oh, wait, there was one other surprise gift but I don’t quite remember…

Let me think.

What was it now?

I remember a box.

I remember something gold, shiny, round. Oh, wait, I remember two things that were gold, shiny, round.

Oh, now I remember!

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If ever a picture were worth a thousand words:

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Posted by Ryan at 11:23 AM | Comments (102)

February 06, 2008

TMK Hijacks the Blog

Good morning everyone! I decided to hijack Mossy Cottage Knits for just a minute so that I can sing "Happy Birthday" to our very own blog mistress, Ryan. Everyone sing along now:

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear Ryan!
Happy Birthday to you!

And a Morrissey tradition:

Parabéns a você,
Nesta data querida.
Muitas felicidades,
Muitos anos de vida.

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Love you sweetie!
TMK

(If the image is too big I apologize. I barely know how to post an entry let alone add an image!)

Posted by Ryan at 06:51 PM | Comments (80)

February 01, 2008

The Lame Entry to End All Lame Entries

So sorry about how the blog comes and goes as I have my good days and my bad—and the bad days still sorely outnumber the good. But, when I do post, I don’t talk much about knitting, and I’m bit of a gloomy gus and a picklepuss so I don’t know if it’s better to post when I’m in the mood or leave off altogether until better days arrive. Today, I’ll post, what the heck.

The good news is I’ve discovered the one piece of equipment at the gym I can’t careen off of—the reclining bike. Heck; I could ride that thing like one of those fake bucking steers in bars, and I’d be good. It’s my new fave. The elliptical, not so much. TMK tossed me on one of the ellipticals to see how I’d like it, and I must say that is one weird-ass piece of equipment, mon—practically designed to make you fall off. And then there’re the people who—and I can barely wrap my head around this—go backwards on the dang thing. Backwards. With wonderous speed, as if they alone are powering the entire city of Seattle. And I have myself convinced that when they slow down, the city lights do, indeed, flicker.

Reported to TMK the other evening that I’d received my first few official ogles at the gym. Lest you think I'm boasting, believe me, it’s strictly because of the bodacious ta-tas. They’ll do it every time. I mean, puhleeze, I’m an overweight, pale, freckled, myopic, 47-year-old with varicose veins, a double-chin, and gray roots but throw some bodacious ta-tas into the mix and the mens will come a-runnin’. Ever-curious, TMK asked, “But how do you know they’re ogling you?” And I said “Because they don’t look just once.” And because if they see you and aren’t positioned just right to get a good stare, they’ll make some fake gesture or movement to get turned around and positioned just right, like some hormone-fueled teenager pretending to yawn and stretch so he can get his arm around you. So obvious. Am I right, ladies? Time to break out my new patented Shapeless Workout Sack.

Am doing a little bit of knitting, specifically the Rock and Weave socks from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in their Farm House colorway. Couldn’t be a better choice for my currently addled and unpredictable brain. The cuff pattern is just repetitive enough to let you relax but requires you to stay thatmuch on the ball to make sure your yarn is in the right position. I’m loving the results. Am almost done with the first cuff. Will probably leave the picot edge off. Good Lord, I’m boring even myself.

Posted by Ryan at 04:17 PM | Comments (27)