March 28, 2008

Maui Travelogue Wrap-Up from Rainy, Snowy and Cold Seattle

Although I’m more or less done with the travelogue, I forgot to mention the most traumatic happening of the trip: the nightmare of the extraordinarily untimely towing of our rental car.

towtruck.JPG The Plan was to leave for the wedding at 5:00 p.m. At 4:55 p.m., TMK happens to glance out the window and see our unmistakably bright-blue Sebring Convertible rental being towed away, five minutes before we were supposed to leave for the wedding, five minutes before the entire reason we were on Maui in the first place. You know how, in cartoons, a cartoon character dashes off so quickly it makes the sound of a gunshot and leaves behind nothing but The Swirling Cloud of Extreme Zippiness? That’s how quickly she bolted out of the condo. Even better, you know how sometimes a cartoon character dashes off so quickly all it leaves behind is empty shoes? That also happened—literally. I turned around and there was nothing in the living room except TMK’s flip-flops, which she had cast off to better her chances of chasing down the tow truck like a rabid cheetah. No TMK, just her flip-flops.

The funniest part was that, in my own clueless, blithery, princess-y world, I was consumed with the excitement of having been able to fit a large-ish brush into a small-ish wedding purse, so excited, in fact, that I was nattering on and on about it (other princesses will understand). The nattering went something like:

“Look, TMK! I fit the brush in my purse! Isn’t that great?! That means that we can brush our hair before the wedding and that I don’t have to bring a bigger ba…

(cartoonish sound of gunshot)

TMK?”

The upshot—not our car. Just one of the hundreds upon hundreds of bright-blue Sebring Convertibles rented out on the island of Maui. We made it to the wedding in plenty of time for me to meet my future husband see the bride and groom enter a state of wedded bliss.

I also forgot to mention the hysterical shtick of the guides on the submarine tour. One memorable bit: On the way out to the submarine, the guide mentioned that we would probably see a lot of whale-watching boats. Our trip did not qualify as a whale-watching tour and “therefore, ladies and gentlemen, if you actually see a whale, Hawaiian law requires that we charge you more.” I howled. Although now, even in the telling, I’m thinking, “I guess you had to be there.”

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Knitting progresses. I hope someday, God willing, to wear two matching socks out to dinner. With these socks, I continue to fall even more in love with Trekking. The fake Jacquard, fake Fair Isle self-striping yarns are fun, but the unpredictable, irregular, soft, water-color stripes of Trekking—that’s what floats my boat (or lowers my submarine; whatever fits). It doesn’t hurt that I’ve finally developed the perfect recipe for making socks out of Trekking for my feet, for making socks that actually fit, not just Pretend Fit. Oh, come on. We all know about Pretend Fit! That’s when you continue to wear a pair of socks despite the uncomfortable rubbing and pinching they cause at the end of your toes, because you knit the socks, you custom knit them specifically for yourself, and you took a long time to knit them, therefore they must fit. You’ve done it; I know you have. Personally, I have about six pairs of socks like that.

The Cotton Club project is going well. I've received beautiful, soft ribbon dishcloths from Erika and No-Blog-Rachel, and rumor has it more are on the way. This week, I emailed everyone that I know to be members of the Cotton Club with final details of the project and my address. If you need this info but didn't receive it, lemme know.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch? A very odd movie. But it doesn’t even come close to the oddest ever: I Heart Huckabees. Discuss.

Posted by Ryan at 11:20 AM | Comments (15)

March 26, 2008

Phobias, Gay Whales, and a Wedding

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your coming to read this claptrap about our trip. As I mentioned after our Arizona adventure, blogs can easily become the modern-day equivalent of grandpappy hauling out the old slide projector and boring everyone to death with grainy slides, but you come and read anyway. Bless you. As your reward, you get more claptrap. A lot more.

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I had to grin a bit at everyone’s confessions about their phobias in the last set of comments because, coincidentally, a large part of this trip, for TMK, at least, was about conquering phobias. With her permission, let’s list them, shall we?

1. Being in a confined space like, oh, for example, an airplane
2. Being in a confined space like, oh, for example, an airplane, for a long time like, oh, for example, six hours
3. Flying over an ocean like, oh, for example, the Pacific
4. Being in open ocean water while, oh, for example, swimming, surfing or snorkeling
5. Fish (Yes, just “fish.” I don’t know the extent or the scope of this phobia, so let’s just say she has a general fear of fish. Big ones, small ones—apparently they all bite. Which they don’t, but never mind.)
6. Major adventures that take her out of her comfort zone like, oh, trips to Maui, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, or being near fish
7. Last but not least, people in general, like, oh, for example, other people who might want to swim, surf, snorkel or be near fish in the Pacific waters of Maui
8. (For Rabbitch, I’ll add mayonnaise but this phobia had no bearing on the trip to Maui. Besides, it isn't a phobia; TMK is just delicate.)

Corollary 1: While not exactly a phobia, TMK had never planned a major trip by herself before.

For starters, just to get to Maui, TMK had to confront Phobias 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 and Corollary 1, which she did with flying colors (especially since she planned the entire trip from flight to condo to car to excursions), with, granted, during the flights, a little help from the wonderful world of chemistry. (Lest she feel picked on, I will confess that the landing in Maui was so rough that I sobbed like a baby at the end. She did not. My thanks go out to the stewardess who cut my sobbing short with the Magically Appearing Cup of Tepid Water.)

On Friday, while I was busy tooling around among coral reefs, fish, and wackadoo free divers, TMK dabbled in the world of surfing. This required facing Phobias 4, 5, 6, 7. When she was done, she was grinning from ear to ear, the phobias starting to become a distant memory. To illustrate and to commemorate, as promised, the first ever Mossy Cottage picture of TMK facing the camera:

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Unfortunately and strictly coincidentally, there was a drop of sea water on my lens right where her face was. (And if you believe that, I’ve got this bridge you might be interested in buying.) That aside, look! She’s in open ocean! She’s near fish! She’s near a person! Heck, she’s surfing!!!

Although she didn’t become obsessed with snorkeling the way I did, TMK did her fair share, her first ever, thus further confronting and diminishing phobias 4, 5 and 6. After some slight panicking and hyperventilating similar to mine, she, too, became a Swimmin’ Floatin’ Snorkelin’ Fish-Observin’ Machine, even confessing that she chased (as in, swam closer to) one school of fish because she wanted them to turn sideways and flash their silver color. (Think of the school of silver fish in “Finding Nemo.” I asked her if they’d formed a picture of the Sydney opera house but she said nu-uh. I was disappointed, but not terribly surprised.) Not to mention that she was the one who saw the moray eel . And did she flee? Nope; she pretty much just said, “Kewl! A moray eel!"

After our submarine/surfing adventures we had a most romantic lunch at nearby Pacific’o. This picture is being posted mostly for its being the Hawaii-est-looking picture of the lot.

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The next day was Gay-Whale Watching Day. Okay, not actually Gay-Whale Watching Day but we went on a gay whale watching cruise which can be hyphenated thusly, for accuracy: gay whale-watching cruise, or thusly, for fun: gay-whale watching cruise. We chose the latter, ‘natch, and headed out to sea with about 50 “brothers and sisters” to look for whales that spouted with a lisp.

But first, I have to share with you this most remarkable fact: You can stand on the frickin’ shores of South Maui and see whales. You don’t even have to go out on a boat! Swear ta’ God! The day we arrived, we spent the afternoon on the beach and, pretty much any direction you looked on the ocean horizon, you could see spouts, dark, curved backs and the occasional breach. They were small and far away, true, but still; the water was rotten with ‘em. Whales! Everywhere! Like rats! It was like looking out your kitchen window and seeing a squirrel...only not. I was stunned.

But watching dark specks and spume from six miles off wasn’t enough, so off we went on our little boat. We saw lots of whales, probably 10, but, to my frustration, every time I looked to the left, a whale would breach on the right; every time I looked to the right, a whale would breach on the left. It felt a little conspiratorial or as if somebody, somewhere had a giant remote control. Mostly I saw baby whales, and the occasional fin or tail (photo courtesy of TMK).

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Because we were there for a wedding, the rest of the time was spent doing wedding things: barbecues, potlucks, picnics, observing all of the peculiar dynamics of the parental-unit ex-wives and ex-husbands who had been brought together for the occasion, and, of course, the wedding itself, presided over by a Hawaiian officiant luscious enough to make me want to change teams. Hubba hubba. He blew a conch shell, which was terribly dramatic; wore handsome, exotic, cream and brown Hawaiian robes; and, most importantly, conducted the ceremony with a quiet intensity that made you believe that he believed that that particular marriage ceremony was the most important one he ever had or ever would preside over, and that he personally would track anyone down who interfered with their sacred union. What a guy!

Oh, and Wednesday night, the food poisoning. Urg.

A coupla extra pictures, just because I have them, the first, me tromping around on the beach en silhouette, the second a "meh" sunset:

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A quick foray into the world of knitting since this is a knitting blog. I’ve discovered something if not worse than, at least more humiliating than Second Sock Syndrome: The First-Sock Couture Faux Pas. I don’t know about all of you, but I get as excited now when I finish a first sock as I did six years ago when I finished my first ever. Usually this means I put the sock on right then and there, to admire, if I’m alone, or to flaunt, if I’m not. The problem comes when you forget to take the one sock off, which is why this is how I was dressed on Sunday when TMK and I went out for dinner, something I didn’t realize until too late:

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Posted by Ryan at 11:30 AM | Comments (25)

March 24, 2008

Snorkeling is the New Knitting

Let’s start with the two short lists.

Short List #1—What Was Not Fun About Maui. Oh, this one’s easy. The food poisoning. Not recommended as a tourist activity.

Short List #2—The Knitting That Got Done: Accidentally dropped six sock stitches off the dpns, shoved the whole shebang back in the bag as is, never looked back. If you’re reading this for knitting content, move along, move along; nothing to see here.

On to The Stupidest Thought In the History of Maui Tourism, courtesy of Me. Friday morning I went on a submarine trip (not TMK; she would rather have been torn slowly apart by a Great White and then flossed out from between his teeth at his leisure). I’d enjoyed my first submariner adventure in Honolulu and wanted to do it again, so I (and 46 other intrepid souls) boated out into the deep blue and watched as the submarine surfaced. I stepped off the boat onto the submarine, grabbed the railing, and thought, “Hey, this boat is all wet!” It was a submarine, people. It had just come up from 130 feet below the surface of the Pacific. I had watched it come up from 130 feet below the surface of the Pacific. And I was surprised that it was wet. Somebody shoot me now.

The boat, the other intrepid souls:

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The submarine nearing the surface:

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Pop goes the weasel!

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This photo shows (a) the underneath of the boat we came out in and (b) the actual colors and contrast to be found in most of the photos. TMK tweaked the rest so you could better see what was out there.

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For the most part there were…fish. Imagine ten other pictures that look pretty much like this.

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130 feet down, a boat that had been sunk to make an artificial reef…

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…and, wait, what’s this? A diver? Okay, not too surprising; people scuba dive all the time. But what’s missing? Look closely. Yep, no scuba equipment. No oxygen, no tanks, no hoses, none of that inconvenient stuff that keeps people, oh, I don’t know, alive? Welcome to the insane world of free diving.

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Mr. Macho waved at us for a while and then, when he was good and ready, went up. Good Lord.

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Just for grins, a science lesson. The farther down you go in the water, the more of the light spectrum gets filtered out until you are left with only, I believe, ultraviolet light, which affects the color of the things around you. I present an accurate picture of my bright orange shorts, which had turned completely magenta.

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The part that was super-fun and borderline addicting? The snorkeling. Oh. My. God. I snorkeled in the Philippines as a child but hadn’t done it since, and was a leetle hesitant, having become a hugely more blobby and uncoordinated 48-year-old, which manifested itself in some spluttering, some hyperventilating, a modicum of petulant whining, and heading back for the safety of shore before I’d made it into two feet of water. But once I developed my sea legs, or sea arms, or sea breathing, or whatever I needed, I was hooked. I think I snorkeled six times in three days, if you count every time I got out of the water, announcing it was the last time I would go in, and five minutes later was snorkeling again. Couldn’t get enough of the fish, the coral, the effortless floating, or the magic of keeping my head in the water without drowning. Not even a bad case of Facemask Suck, an embarrassing malady that leaves the imprint of a face mask all around your face, was enough to stop me.

Me in my (not by choice) pink snorkeling equipment, as I try to get out of relatively quiet surf which was still, however, knocking me forward and then knocking me back, just enough to make things, um, interesting.

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Here, the park ranger rescuing me. You can’t tell but I was laughing my arse off. And what did TMK do while someone else helped me out of the water? Took photos. Some white knight! (And do ignore the highly unattractive and unflattering swimming outfit. The bottom is a real swimsuit; the top is something I grabbed out of my suitcase and which grew ten times its size in the water.)

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Wednesday, the search for gay whales, TMK conquering pretty much every phobia she’s ever had (except that bird thing), a picture with TMK facing the camera, and something worse than Second Sock Syndrome.

Posted by Ryan at 11:30 AM | Comments (19)

March 12, 2008

Mondegreens!

While I’m not a regular reader of Crazy Aunt Purl, I’m so glad I cruised by her site yesterday and, specifically, stumbled across this entry about misheard song lyrics (I’ve always been a big fan of mondegreens anyway, so I was a sucker for this). Even if you’re not much of a comment reader, it’s worth reading every comment associated with this post. They get funnier and funnier the farther you go. Me, I laughed so hard a teardrop or two fell on my keyboard and I had to wipe my eyes before I shorted the durn thing out (no repeats of the Frappucino incident, thank you very much) . If you’re having a bad day or just need a pee-your-pants guffaw, this will do the trick, I garawntee it.

Now, for two photos designed specifically and unapologetically to annoy Norma and Stephanie. When we last saw La Harlot at Madrona, TMK mentioned to her that we were heading home to plant vegetable seeds. La Harlot, who lives in much colder climes and would have to wait many a long month before she could even think about planting vegetable seeds, said, in retort, something very unladylike (I believe the letter “F” was involved). TMK emailed something similar to Norma who also said something very unladylike (the equivalent, referring to Stephanie, of “what she said.”) So here they are, ladies, our lettuce and spinach poking their little green heads up out of the ground (little red circles courtesy of TMK who, as a professional designer, is a little-red-circle-drawer par excellence). Ta-dah! Oh, and neener neener.

Incidentally, please ignore Item #11 on Norma's posting for today. She is delusional from the lack of warmth on the East Coast.

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Here, a very belated photograph. About three weekends ago, TMK and I went to a local spin-in hosted by the Northwest Regional Spinners Association . Here in the Northwest, we don’t do anything by halves (and this isn’t even everybody!):

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The latest lovely ladies to join the Cotton Club:

Andi
Melissa
Petrified
Jocelyn

For late-comers who may not've been privy to all the details, the dishcloth can be any color cotton yarn, but it has to be this pattern.

Dunno when the next posting will be since TMK and I are heading off tomorrow. She is bringing her laptop, though, so anything could happen, especially when it comes to killing those endless two hours mucking about in the airport. (Remember? Last time I was in an airport, you got a photo of my feet.) The challenge so far has been explaining to TMK, who is not big on authority, that, yes, she can only have one quart bag and, yes, everything has to be in small bottles and, no, the TSA is not kidding, and, no, they won’t bend the rules Just For Her. I’m still not sure I have her convinced. Ta’ heck with the rain in Hawai’i; we may not even make it past Seattle security.

Posted by Ryan at 11:24 AM | Comments (16)

March 10, 2008

Dishcloth Mania!

I’m astonished at how many people want to join the Cotton Club! I assumed that because I’m always coming up with one harebrained charity-knitting scheme after another that interest in my latest one would’ve plummeted amidst a flurry of “pshaws” and dismissive hand-waving—but, once again, I underestimate my knitting homies. Not only am I getting emails or comments that say, “I’ll knit one!,” I’m getting ones that say, “Please, please, please let me knit one or I’ll just curl up and die.,” others that say, “What d’ya mean, just one?,” and others that say already, “I’m done! Where can I mail it?” I’m just eating up your enthusiasm. Youze guyz are da best.

So, I say, ta’ hell with it. Bring ‘em on! My employee says that, even though the walk is in early June, they will continue to fund-raise afterwards and will have other opportunities to sell the cloth/soap bundles. (Incidentally, I did pore all over the pattern to see if there was something that said “don’t’ sell anything made from this pattern” and found bupkus.)

I’ve added these names to the Cotton Club list, bringing us to 41 members:

Ann
Barbara M.
Dale-Harriet
Elizabeth S.
Juanita
Karen B.
KarenJo
Pauline
Tina

Here is a truly terrible picture of one of the soaps (they’re actually pink or lavender or gold, not an oily, pasty, lardy white the way this picture shows, and have scrumptious yet subtle rose, lavender and perfume scents):

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And here is one of my cloths plus two artfully tilted soaps, a lavender one on the left and a rose one on the right:

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And the way we’re thinking of bundling them (imaginet this tied up with a ribbon):

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One reminder: This walk isn’t just for breast cancer, so you can make your cloths any color. Here’s a cancer-color guide, but I figure you don’t even need to stick with those. The more varied the display, the better they’ll sell, I think.

The good news? Maui on Thursday! The bad news? They’re predicting rain. The badder news: I have so frickin’ much to do. (Speaking of “frickin’,” why do they bother to show a movie like “40-Year-Old Virgin” on TV when it has to be bleeped so much? TMK and I watched it last night, and the dialog came out something like “If the ___ ___ had a ___ ___ then we could ___ and then ____ ___ and then ____ ___ with a ____ ____. Or ____ ____.” After a while, I began to suspect they were bleeping even normal words, just for the ____ of it.)

P.S. Cuzzin, see KarenJoe’s comment regarding hot yoga, you naughty, naughty boy.

Posted by Ryan at 11:07 AM | Comments (16)

March 07, 2008

The Army Rises Again!

The young woman who is spearheading the ribbon-dishcloth project and participating in the cancer walk is, if not exactly a muggle, then at least a mud blood (but not in the denigrating sense). She’s a knitting dabbler who came into the knitting world a little backwards, a breech birth, if you will: She learned how to knit in the round first and is only now learning how to knit back and forth. In fact, the dishcloth she’s knitting is her first back-and-forth project and has her completely befuddled. It doesn’t help that my explanations to her have come out something like: “Well, you do this on the front, and then you do exactly the same thing on the back. Only the opposite and backwards. Only in some parts it’s the same. Except for the parts where it’s not. Which is pretty much all the parts. Except here. Oh, and there. Got it?” It makes me wonder how anyone learns how to knit. (It’s like those moments when you realize English really is a hard language to speak and you wonder how anyone learns to speak it. Then you wonder how you learned to speak it. Then for the rest of the day your communication skills are ever so slightly off because you can’t get past the fact that you’re doing something technically impossible.)

She will never become as immersed in the knitting world as—cough, cough—some of us are because she’s very sociable and athletic and is torn in many different directions, most of which are incompatible with sitting down like, oh, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, hiking, volleyball and hot yoga (yes, she does all of this, on top of being the chairperson for her cancer walk). This also means she’s unaware of how much knitters give, give and give (I believe Yarn Harlot refers to knitters as “supergivers”) so having all of you come screaming into the project at Mach 5 has left her awestruck. Because she works across the hall from me, I spent Wednesday shouting numbers at her as knitters jumped on the bandwagon: “3! No, wait, 5! Now 7! Now 12! Now 15!” And having her yell back at me, “Oh. My. God.” and “You lie!” and “But…How…Why…Who?” and sometimes just give up and sputter with amazement. Add to that the fact that Erika had a goodly portion of a dishcloth done within an hour after I posted my blog (or something remarkable like that)* and my employee is flabbergasted. My peeps—I’m so proud of you for putting on a good show. Proud, but not surprised. I know how you are. And love you for it.

Our final number as of yesterday was 32 knitters, which means, seriously, I only need one dishcloth from each person, or we’ll have too many. And the official members of what I’m calling the Cotton Club are:

Beebs
Carol B.
Carrie
Cat
Cathy R.
Cathy-Cate
CJ H.
Cynthia
Daisy
Elizabeth D.
Erika
Gail
Jennifer
Kathleen
Kathleen
Kerri M.
Kim
Kristen
Laura D.
Liz W.
Lori
Marianne
NancyO
Rachel D.
Robin W.
Rabbitch
Sandy
Seanna Lea
Sharon H.
Stephanie
Swapna (from India!)
Teresa G.

I'll be in touch with everyone about when/where/how to deliver the cloths.

A few notes on the pattern:

  • When I first started to use the pattern, the photo showed up, but now it doesn’t. Drat. I will try to post a photo on Monday of some of my finished cloths. For now, let me paint you a picture. Gaze up into the corner of your room and imagine if you will, a dishcloth which is plain, mostly stockinette with a garter stitch border. The ribbon motif is in the center and is large-ish, about five inches tall and three inches wide. The dishcloths I’ve knit have come out different sizes depending on the yarn but they average between 7 (a light mercerized cotton) and 9 inches (the old Lion Brand workhorse). Oh, and if gazing into the corner of your room didn't work for you, here's a photo of one I found on someone's Flickr site.
  • Even though I’m a pretty tight knitter, I still found I had to go down a needle size.
  • The unusual “B3” instruction in the pattern just stands for “border 3” and represents the stitches you knit to make the garter stitch border.
  • To get the dishcloth square I had to add few more rows of stockinette above the bottom border and below the top border than the pattern called for. I think I ended up with a total of eight.
  • Other than that, you do this on the front, and then you do exactly the same thing on the back. Only the opposite and backwards. Only in some parts it’s the same. Except for the parts where it’s not. Which is pretty much all the parts. Except here. Oh, and there.

That’s all. Have at! And thank you, thank you, thank you!

*Proving that she is indeed a Knitting SuperWoman, this morning a photograph of Erika's finished cloth arrived:

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Posted by Ryan at 10:30 AM | Comments (20)

March 05, 2008

I Am Defeated On So Many Levels

Something has gone completely wacko with my commenting system, and I have no idea how to fix it. So, to those of you who tried to post comments to my last entry and got a message saying I needed to approve your message before it could be fixed, trust me--that wasn't me; it was a gremlin. Functions are somehow getting turned on and off behind the scenes faster than I can fix them, mostly because I have no blog-software fixing abilities. And this morning I discovered that I can't even get to the Web page where I can approve the comments. I'm starting to think the sensor that's in control of the soda vending machine is also in control of my blogging software. I've tried doing the arms-in-the-air gymnast's gesture in front of my monitor but it doesn't seem to be doing any good.

That being said, I want to make sure no one misses this gem, a poem by Cathy-Cate which she posted in the last entry before things went all wonky:

Let me tell you a story
'bout a knitter named Ryan
who was going to the gym each day
At first she didn't know
How to make the machines go
and she hoped she could just slink away.

But then the StairStepper got movin'
and Ryan found her groove, &
she said, "This ain't so bad, TMK!
But wait, where are the brakes?
I can't get off! For heaven's sake!
I may never leave the YMCA!

It's these sorts of things that make blogging--and dealing with annoying features that keep turning themselves on and off--worth it. Thank you, Cathy-Cate!

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ribbon.gifSo, okay, I will admit defeat. We counted the soaps that we're going to bundle with the ribbon dishcloths and we have...59. Then we counted the dishcloths and we have...five. Hmmm. Can you see that I'm making that "balancing" gesture in the air with my hands?

It doesn't help that the other people at work who were going to knit the dishcloths have bailed. The five? Knit by Yours Truly. Soooo, anyone else out there, especially local folks, interested in knitting one? Just one? I'm looking for maybe 15 or 20 knitters total. The cloths can be any color (we're not sticking necessarily to the cancer-color schemes because we want a colorful display to lure people in), but they need to be cotton, obviously, and need to be this pattern. The good news is you have until the end of May. Did I mention you need to knit just one? Email me at rymorriss at yahoo dot com if you're interested.

Posted by Ryan at 01:21 PM | Comments (24)